KRAKOW TOWNSHIP - Organizers have planned a variety of events showing off Thompson's Harbor State Park's natural beauty to celebrate the park's 25th anniversary.
On Saturday, the Friends of Thompson's Harbor State Park will host the events, ranging from birding tours to informational talks about rattlesnakes occasionally found in the park, friends group President Mike Grohowski said. They'll be getting help from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The day is aimed at promoting one of Michigan's lesser-known state parks.
"One of the unique things is, the dwarf lake iris should be in bloom, given the nice weather we have now," he said. "It normally blooms right around Mother's Day, which is the day after the celebration."
The day's events kick off at 8 a.m., when Bill Grigg will lead tours of birding sites starting from Old State Road, according to the schedule. At the same time, Neil Burchett will lead a geocaching group, beginning from the trail head parking lot.
At 10 a.m., DNR staff and friends group members will have a welcoming ceremony, and children's activities begin at that time as well, according to the schedule. At 12 p.m., Grigg will lead a nature walk starting from the trail head, and Craig Kasmer will lead a tour of the park's quaking bog.
At 2 p.m., Bob Santimo and Aaron Veselenak will hold a talk about the Massasauga Rattlesnake, according to the schedule.
Thompson's Harbor has been a part of Grohowski's life even before it became a state park in 1988, he said. Before then, it was part of a huge tract of land owned by U.S. Steel. He hunted there with his dad and uncles, and still visits regularly now that he lives on Grand Lake.
"We hike out to the sand dunes, spend a full day enjoying the solitude of about two miles of sandy shore, essentially to yourself," he said. "That's not easy to find."
After the celebration, the Friends of Thompson's Harbor will be working to clear numerous trails that criss-cross the park, Grohowski said. Some of them are firebreaks, or old roads cut by U.S. Steel when exploring for limestone, oil or natural gas.
What: Thompson's Harbor State Park 25th anniversary celebration
Where: Thompson's Harbor State Park, Krakow Township
When: Saturday, 8-4 p.m.
A Recreation Passport is required for entry, and will be available for purchase at the park.
For more information on the friends group, visit their website at www.friendsofthompsonharbor.org.