Explore Michigan State Parks And Their Recreational Activities

Michigan falls
Image by WikiCommons

Michigan is a great place to go for wide-open spaces, hiking trails, and enjoying the outdoors. The state park system began in 1919 in Michigan and there are 103 in total. There are some diverse Michigan state parks to explore, each of which has a wide range of activities including hiking trails and camping. Here’s a guide to Michigan’s state parks and what you can do once there.

Craig Lake State Park

Located in Upper Michigan, Craig Lake State Park covers 8459 acres. Some parts of the park are only accessible by canoe, making it an intrepid one for those who love the outdoors. There are several hiking trails in Craig Lake State Park. The eight-mile loop around Craig Lake is one of the most popular and scenic. There is also a 7-mile linear walk of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Craig Lake also has camping facilities, fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and hunting within the park area.

Interlochen State Park

Image by Camp Pinewood on flickr

Located in Grand Traverse County, Interlochen State Park covers 187 acres and was the very first of the state parks in Michigan to be opened. The land stretches from Duck Lake to Green Lake and is one of the few places where red pine from the pre-settler era can be seen in the USA; This Park has a lot of boating activities, year-round fishing, camping, and is home to the annual Three Discipline Triathlon.

Maybury State park

There are 944 acres in Maybury State Park which is located in Wayne County, Michigan. This park is mainly a mature forest, rolling countryside, and open meadowland. Maybury State Park has several miles of biking and hiking trails and also horse riding. Cross country skiing trails are available in winter. The park also has a farm that provides educational activities such as sheep shearing and a corn maze in season.

Algonac State Park

Two miles north of the city of Algonac, the Algonac State Park covers 1450 acres along the St Clair River. This is a park of contrasts. On the half-acre of river parkland, visitors can watch international freighters sail by. On the other hand, 83% of Algonac State Park is undeveloped and is mostly savannah land. Nineteen endangered species have made the park their home.

Image by A Healthier Michigan on flickr

This includes prairie plants and butterflies. Activities include camping, fishing, hiking, and cross country skiing. There is also a picnic ground and playground.

Fisherman’s Island State Park

Fisherman’s Island State Park is south of Charlevoix and sits on 2678 acres of the Lake Michigan shoreline. The low levels of water here have resulted in the park is more of a peninsula than an island. There are 80 rustic camping sites here and lots of beaches to enjoy. The park has 3 miles of hiking routes. Snowmobiling and hunting are permitted in Fisherman’s Island State Park. The terrain in the park includes wooded areas of cedar, black spruce, maple, and birch with dunes.

Grand Mere State park

State Park
Image by WikiCommons

Grand-mere State Park is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. It is close to Stevensville and adjacent to Interstate 94. This is one of the Michigan State Parks with unique natural features and is 984 acres of land. The terrain is characterized by deep blowouts, sand dunes, and a mile of shoreline beach. There are some walking trails, paddle boarding, camping, and swimming. Fishing and hunting are also permitted.

Burt Lake State Park

With 406 acres of parkland, Burt Lake State Park is located in the heart of the Inland Waterways of Northern Michigan in Cheboygan County on the Indian River and at the southern shore of Burt Lake. It has over 2000 feet of sandy shores, boating, swimming, and walks. There is also access to fishing via the Inland Lakes Waterway and camping. Some people just come here to see the beautiful lakeside scenery without getting too active.

Fayette Historic State Park

Fayette is one of the best known historic areas in Michigan and the town has been reconstructed into a museum. Also, Fayette Historic State Park is the area in and around the town itself. The historic townsite features a number of restored buildings depicting what life was like here in the 19th century when Fayette was at the center of the iron smelting industry.

Image by WikiCommons

The Fayette Historic State Park has 67 camping sites with electricity and water facilities. There are additional camp pitches at Sand Bay and with boat camping at Snail Shell Bay. The park also has a playground and picnic area. There are 5 miles of hiking route here and these trails are used in winter for cross country skiing. Walks include wooded areas, dolomite cliffs which are part of the Niagara escarpment, and the town itself.

Leelanau State Park

Covering 1350 acres on the Leelanau Peninsula, the Leelanau State Park is another beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors in Michigan. It is home to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum which marks the Manitou passage which separates Lake Michigan from Grand Traverse Bay. The park has 8.5 miles of hiking trails, skiing, cabins, and camping. There are also picnic areas and a playground.

Mitchell State Park

Image by Yi Liu on Unsplash

One of the favored Michigan state parks is the William Mitchell State Park that lies within the city of Cadillac; covering 334 acres. It is a beautiful recreational area with the historic Clam Lake Canal running straight through it. Mitchell State Park is also home to the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center which is a collection of the history of fishing and hunting. There is a 2.5-mile recreational trail within the park with walking trails through marshland and wooded areas on boardwalks and paths.

The park has a number of bird species and plants that can be seen on the trail. In winter there is snowmobiling and cross country skiing. Ice fishing is also available in this park during winter. The park has a campground with 221 pitches and places for boat launches.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and close to the shores of Lake Superior are the Porcupine Mountains. The native Ojibwa people so-called these mountains as they resembled the shape of a porcupine. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is home to 31000 acres of forestry including the largest collection of old-growth northern hardwood west of the Adirondacks.

Michigan state parks
Image by WikiCommons

This parkland has an extensive network of hiking trails which have 87 miles of tracks. This includes a large section of the North Country Trail. The park also has walks guided by rangers, cross country skiing, and boating and swimming areas. There are rustic cabins as well as modern campgrounds on site. Porcupine Mountains is one of the best of the Michigan State Parks for wildlife. This is home to moose, elk, wolves, black bears, bobcats, beavers, otters, and even porcupines.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park stretches for 46179 acres in Chippewa County. This is the second largest of Michigan State Parks and borders Lake Superior. The park broadly follows the Tahquamenon River where the famous Tahquamenon Falls flows into Whitefish Bay. The Upper Falls has a 50-foot drop while there are lower falls and cascades. This is the second most voluminous falls in the USA after Niagara.

The parkland has several good hiking trails. For hikers wanting to walk along the falls there is a shuttle bus in summer called the Tahqua Trekker to avoid having to backtrack on a route. The North Country Trail also runs through a section of Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Most of the park is undeveloped but there are 22 miles of hiking trails. There are rowboats and canoes for the lower falls area. The upper falls are accessible via the visitor center and a paved trail. This parkland has 5 campgrounds with 350 camping sites. It is one of the most popular of Michigan’s State Parks.

Warren Dunes State Park

Michigan state parks
Image by Hide Obara on Unsplash

This is a 1952 acre Michigan State Park that is famous for its dunes. It stretches along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The shoreline and sandy dunes make this one of the most popular of the state parks in Michigan. There are sandy beaches with swimming areas that get busy in summer, attracting visitors. Sandboarding on the dunes is very popular as is boating and swimming.

There are 6 miles of hiking trails and several good picnicking areas. Warren Dunes State Park has 2 main campgrounds with 200 camping sites that are just a short walk from the beaches. The park is also one of the best places in the area for sky watching as there is very little light pollution from cities.

Ludington State Park

Michigan state parks
Image by Yi Liu on Unsplash

Located north of Ludington, Michigan, Ludington State Park is 5300 acres of parkland. It lies between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake and has various ecosystems including a river, dunes, and forestry. One of the popular trails here is the 2-mile hike to Big Sable Point Lighthouse which was first lit in 1876. Another popular hike is around Hamlin Lake. The trails are used by cyclists too and in winter by cross country skiers. The lake actually has two sections and swimming and boating are popular here.

Hamlin Lake is 5 miles long and 2 miles wide. Ludington State Park is also popular with people who like to ride inner tubes. The Big Sable River is especially popular with inner tubers in summer. There are 2 campgrounds in Ludington State park with around 352 camping sites and reservations are obligatory. The park also has a beach café which has amazing views of Lake Michigan.

Hoffmaster State Park

Another state park on the shores of Lake Michigan is Hoffmaster State Park. It is 5 miles north of Grand Haven and has 1200 acres of land. The Gillette Sand Dune Visitor center is located within the park itself and is a collection of material on the dune ecosystem within this Michigan State Park.

There are 16 miles of hiking trails here of which 3 miles is being groomed for cross country skiing in one of the best known hiking trails is the Dune Climb Stairway. The park is popular with bird watchers and has two campgrounds.

Hartwick Pines State Park

State Park Michigan
Image by WikiCommons

The 9,762 acres Hartwick Pines State Park is located in Crawford County near Grayling. This park is famous for its collection of white pines and red pines that are characteristic of Michigan before mass logging began. The Hartwick Pines Logging Museum is a collection dedicated to the logging industry. Visitors to the park require a State Recreational Passport and on arrival head to the old trees in the parkland via an accessible route.

There are several good walking trails within Hartwick Pines State Park. The Au Sable River Trail is one route that takes hikers along the East Branch and is 3 miles in length. Another trail, the Mertz Grade trail is a wooded walk for 2 miles and was named after an original logging route. This park has a campground and crosses country skiing in winter. Michigan is one of the best states in the United States that have great places for the outdoors.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here