Lost Mansion Trail - South Haven

 

There is a story about a man who, many years ago, wanted to build a mansion in the majestic sand dunes of Southwest Michigan. While acquiring a site near South Haven, and drawing up building plans, he happened to find a fully constructed stone mansion for sale, across Lake Michigan, in Chicago. He bought the mansion and his dream was within reach. He had the mansion disassembled. Then carefully marked and numbered each stone component, carefully packed them, and loaded them onto a cargo vessel. The voyage across the great lake was uneventful. The crew dropped anchor and began the task of unloading the large heavy stones, and moving each one onto shore, and up the dunes to the building site. As luck would have it, Mother Nature chose this moment to throw a tantrum. A massive storm blew in, swamping the transport craft, and much of the cargo ended up in Lake Michigan. Some parts of the mansion had been unloaded, but much of it was lost. You can still find a large number of the mansion parts scattered across the top of the dunes on the Lost Mansion Trail at North Point.

sunsetThe North Point “Lost Mansion” Trail is located in North Point Park south of South Haven, Michigan. The park is commonly known as the "Old Boy Scout Camp", as this area has been used and maintained by Boy Scouts from Southwest Michigan for many generations. They have had several Eagle Scout Projects in the park, including planting of hundreds of indigenous trees, maintaining the trails, and erosion control measures. The trail head is right next to the road where there is a small parking area. This is a natural trail through a forest of tall trees. Stay on the main trail. After some mild climbing, as the trail wanders upward into the dunes, you will come to a dead end, where you can go right toward the lake or left into more forest. Go left and take the short trail down to another T. Here you go right, and after a short walk will have another gentle climb to the mansion ruins, and a fantastic view of Lake Michigan. When you are ready to return, you can retrace your route or take a different path. From the ruins return to the T, instead of going left to retrace your path, you can go straight. This will wind through the forest and eventually bring you back to the main trail, where you turn right to the parking area.

North Point Park contains dunes made of sand deposited in the Great Lakes Basin, as the glaciers receded, thousands of years ago. North Point is part of the world’s largest freshwater dune system, which stretches 100 miles along this part of Lake Michigan. These coastal sand dunes are special environments that support more unique species of plants, insects, and animals, than any other ecosystem in the Great Lakes Basin.