Get Off the Couch — Explore Michigan: Oceana County High Point

February 23, 2012





mcp columnist

Lower Michigan isn’t known for its tall hills. In fact the highest point in the entire state is Mount Arvon in the UP, at 1978 feet. The highest point in the LP isn’t too far away from Mason County, in Wexford County. It’s Briar Hill, at 1706 feet.


Although I’ve never been much of a peakbagger, I’m thinking it might be a fun challenge, just to see more of Michigan. The local high points are pretty far down the county list. Oceana County is 52nd out of 83 counties, at 1083 feet. The “peak” doesn’t even have a name.


I had always suspected Oceana’s high point was somewhere in the vicinity of Crystal Valley, but last week I got serious and looked up the actual info on It turns out that there are four points one should visit to be sure of hitting the highest. Even so, it’s barely enough of a hike to say that you got out of the car.


Peakbaggers says the property is in the Manistee National Forest, but after visiting, I’m sure that’s not true and instead, it’s private land. However, no one challenged me on my brief outing.


So, where is it? If you go east from Crystal Valley to 144th St and turn south, in 1.5 miles you will drive through a cut at the top of a hill. On the east side of the road is a clump of pines with a communication tower in the middle. That’s it, folks. On the west side of the road are three slight humps in the ridge that are the other (approximately) equally high points. I walked to them all and probably walked fewer horizontal feet than the hill is high. I still needed a walk to get some exercise.


Nevertheless, I was rewarded with nice views to the north and east. This shot, to the north shows another set of good hills. Although they are slightly lower, they are arranged in a friendly manner, and are home to the Crystal Valley Ski Area


To the east a low ridge is visible that a study of some maps suggests is on the Oceana/Newaygo County line, near Gilbert Lake.


Of course, the best views aren’t always found from the highest peaks as the viewshed depends upon how isolated a hill is, and how dense the tree cover on its slopes.


But now I’ve been there officially. The adventure has begun.


Get Off The Couch – Explore Michigan” is dedicated to tempting you get out, discover and enjoy the natural world (and maybe some local history). Move those muscles, breathe some fresh air and have a good day!




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