Hardy Dam (or Hardy Hydroelectric Plant) is an earth-filled embankment demand power-plant complex on the Muskegon River in Big Prairie Township, Newaygo County, Michigan. At the time of its completion, it was the largest earthen dam in North America east of the Mississippi. Its impoundment forms a lake with over 50 miles of shoreline. The dam impounds a reservoir with a surface area of 4,000 acres and its power plant has an installed capacity of 31.5 MW.
Croton Dam (or Croton Hydroelectric Plant) is an earth-filled embankment dam and power plant complex on the Muskegon River in Croton Township, Newaygo County, Michigan. It was built in 1907 under the direction of William D. Fargo by the Grand Rapids - Muskegon Power Company, a predecessor of Consumers Energy. The 40-foot-high dam impounds 7.2 billion U.S. gallons (6 billion imp. gal/27 billion L) of water in its 1,209-acre reservoir and is capable of producing 8,850 kilowatts at peak outflow. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979
Tailwater Park is a 9-acre community park located on both sides of Croton Hardy Drive at the southern outlet of Croton Dam Pond. The park, operated by Croton Township in partnership with Consumers Energy, provides boater access (on southside of Croton Hardy Drive) through a one-lane paved approach with a skid pier. This launch site provides access for boaters that wish to navigate the river south of Croton Dam. In 2010 the northside of Tailwater Park was expanded to include 30 boat/tailer units and 10 single parking spaces, along with steps to the river.
Tailwater Park is customized for the transient boater with two paved areas for parking with trailers. The park also features a 750-foot riverfront walkway following the river north to Croton Dam. Some portions of the riverfront walkway are paved, and other portions are gravel. Access is from Croton Hardy Drive, a major east-west traffic corridor for the Township at Swan Avenue. Free launch access makes it popular for river enthusiasts.
Conklin Park is a 12-acre community park located near the community of Croton, overlooking the south end of Croton Dam Pond. The park is the only Township-operated recreational facility without direct access to water. Conklin Park hosts the most diverse array of recreational facilities in the township, with a baseball field and bleachers, two enclosed tennis courts, a concrete shuffleboard/basketball platform, Frisbee golf course, and a children’s playground. The park is a popular family destination because of the play equipment, a large picnic shelter and an ample supply of picnic tables and eleven charcoal grills are located throughout the park.
The park is located on top of a hill overlooking Croton Dam Pond in a primarily wooded area. In cooperation with Consumers Energy, Conklin hosts a ¾ mile easy walking trail that loops through the woods and back to the park. Approximately half way through the trail there is a beautiful overlook of the Muskegon River basin. The area is also habitat for the endangered Blue Carner butterfly.
East Tailwater Overlook
Situated on a scenic overlook approaching the community of Croton, this park serves as a destination for fishermen and visitors. The park leads to the historic Croton Dam, constructed in the early 1900s and listed in the National Historic Registry. The overlook to Croton Pond has parking for up to eight vehicles with kiosks informing visitors of park facilities. The East Tailwater Overlook and Fishing Area is owned and operated by Consumers Energy.
A hardened gravel path alongside a wooden stairwell provides access to a wooden fishing platform on the Muskegon River. The park is accessible through an asphalt paved entry drive and parking area, located adjacent to the disabled accessible vault toilet. A wooden staircase also leads up from the parking area to another overlook area.
A 200-foot walkway, portions of which are poured concrete, provides access to nearby wooded areas and the river.
Al duChemin Jr. Park
This 13 acre parcel has a developed one-acre community park and is situated on the southwest portion of Croton Dam Pond. The park, operated by Croton Township in partnership with Consumers Energy, features a two lane gravel approach boat ramp with a skid pier. There is no access charge for launching boats,or kayaks and visitors have access to a 29 car/trailer gravel parking area.
There are two picnic areas with charcoal grills, with one picnic area located in a small shelter. Two handicap accessible vault toilets are located near the parking lot, with concrete sidewalks leading up to the facilities. A handicap accessible fishing platform is located near the boat launch area.
Local residents and visitors have opportunities to access Croton Dam Pond, as well as enjoy the natural scenery from picnic tables and the fishing platform
North Country Trail
Trailhead located on Croton Hardy Drive, approximately ¼ mile east of Tailwater Park. Nationally-recognized hiking trail located in portions of Croton Township from Croton Dam and heading northwest to Nichols Lake, 37.8 miles of hiking trail.
Coolbough Nature Preserve
The Coolbough Natural Areas, dedicated in October 2001, protects a thriving wetlands system including three ponds joined together by cattail marshes in a 400 acre area. Home of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly, the Preserve is the result of a partnership between Brooks Township and the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which donated 80-acre Ore-Ida Prairie Preserve to the Township. The Nature Preserve contains multiple hiking trail loops, ranging from 1.75 to 3.2 miles.
The Hardy Dam Rustic Nature trail is a cooperative project of the Boy Scouts of America and Consumers Energy employees. The Trail is a three mile round trip along the Muskegon River. The Trail is unpaved and winds over various types of terrain. Also 26 species of trees are identified along the trail, identified with posts so be sure to pick up your trail guide by the trailhead. Parking is available and located by the Hardy Dam at its northwest end.