While Sleepy Hollow conjures up images of dark, barren woods and a ghostly Headless Horseman, the state park with the same name just outside of Lansing should dispel any such fears — at least until the leaves fall.
The 2,600-acre state park sits smack dab in the middle of central Michigan farmland. It’s a woodland oasis surrounding man-made Lake Ovid, popular with fishermen and bird watchers. More than 225 species of birds, from the blue jay to the eastern bluebird, have been spotted in the park, and bald eagles have been occasionally observed soaring over the 140-acre lake. The woods are teeming with wildlife: white-tail deer, coyotes, and wild turkeys. Black bears are infrequent guests.
The park’s iconic and seemingly out-of-place name and 16 miles of hiking trails lured me for a late summer trek. The 6-mile trail I followed didn’t disappoint, winding through woods, thick with towering maples and oaks, over gentle hills and across small wooden bridges (with nothing frightening lurking on the other side). Near the trail’s end, the reward was beautiful views of Lake Ovid.
Sleepy Hollow State Park loosely derives its name from the famous Washington Irving story; a man named I.B. Crane once owned a large chunk of the park. Each fall, Sleepy Hollow pays homage to one of American literature’s most memorable characters with Ichabod Crane Days, celebrated with horse drawn wagon rides, pumpkin games and an appearance by — who else? — the Headless Horseman.
Check out Ichabod Crane Days to learn more about the event.