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Public Right to Beach Walking

In the State of Michigan members of the public enjoy the right to walk along publicly and privately owned land lakeward of the ordinary high water mark of the Great Lakes (e.g., Lake Michigan).

In the 2005 case Glass v. Goeckel, the State of Michigan Supreme Court held that, "... our public trust doctrine permits pedestrian use of our Great Lakes [State of Michigan’s shores of Lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, and Erie], up to and including the land below the ordinary high water mark.  Therefore... any member of the public enjoys the right to walk along the [State of Michigan’s] shore of Lake Huron [or Lakes Michigan, Superior, or Erie] on land lakeward of the ordinary high water mark."

The majority opinion also includes this description, used from Wisconsin, "[t]he ordinary high water mark lies... where 'the presence and action of the water is so continuous as to leave a distinct mark either by erosion, destruction of terrestrial vegetation, or other easily recognized characteristic.'"