If you’ve driven south on the US 31 Freeway toward Muskegon, you’ve crossed the White River, between Whitehall and Montague. The southeast corner of that crossing includes the mouth of Silver Creek, and is known today as Hilt’s Landing. The area was known as “The Beautiful” by Native Americans.
John McGarry, executive director of the Muskegon County Museum, on Friday, released the first draft of the plan for what will be known as the Michigan Heritage Trail at Hilt's Landing.
In 2002, Muskegon County was able to purchase the property. After conducting a survey of local residents the county’s priority became primarily to preserve the property in its natural state. And last year, Whitehall Township purchased the property from the county. The Whitehall Township Recreation Plan lists the additional goals for the property as improving the road, building a parking lot, developing a picnic area, and developing a walking Native American / Logging History Trail.
In April 2008, the Muskegon County Historical Museum unveiled a plan to use an open area within the 232-acre property to create a living history trail. The trail stations would include a Native American burial mound, a Native American woodland period village, a fur trader's cabin, a logging camp, an Underground Railroad stop, a Civil War campground and an 1880s farmhouse.
Other educational experiences are possible, such as an archeological dig for children, Civil War re-enactments, and Native American Pow-Wows.
The township has budgeted $5,000 to pay the Muskegon Conservation District to draw up a master plan for the site. Other ideas include cross country skiing trails and hiking trails, interpretative markers, planting native plants and low-impact camping for groups.
Access to Hilt’s Landing is via North Durham Road from the Colby Road exit off US 31.
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