Wilderness State Park – A Must-Visit Michigan State Park
Michigan’s Wilderness State Park continues to grow in popularity, as visitors return home and tell others about its unspoiled shoreline on Lake Michigan, miles of hiking trails and secluded campsites. The park recently announced the addition of 15 more walk-in tent camping sites, which comes on the heels of the addition of 28 sites (10 tent sites and 18 full hook-up sites) in 2016. The park now offers 250 modern campsites, six rustic cabins, three rustic bunkhouses and 43 tent sites. Wilderness is known for its stunning sunsets, and excellent views of the night sky.
Wilderness State Park is located 12 miles west of Mackinaw City and about an hour north of Petoskey. It boasts 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, including Waugoshance Point, Temperance Island and Waugoshance Island. This is an extremely dangerous stretch of lake for mariners, which led to the construction of the Grays Reef Light, Waugoshance Light (seen below), and White Shoal Light to mark the area’s numerous shoals and reefs.
The park has more than 22 miles of trail, including 5.5 miles of the North Country Trail. A good portion of the park’s 10,000 acres is wilderness, which makes it a great place to see wildlife and observe trees and plants. Piping plover, black bear, beaver, bobcats, deer, fox, mink, otters and muskrats are just a few of the animals that have been spotted in the park. In addition to hiking, the park is a great spot for geocaching (16 + geocaches are located in the park), swimming, fishing, cross-country skiing, and kayaking. Big Stone Bay has the best beach for swimming and is one of the more popular areas for kayaking.
We’ve professed our love of the Upper Peninsula’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park for its peace and quiet and natural beauty, and we found Wilderness State Park has much of the same appeal – just on a different Great Lake! This is a great place to camp if you’re vacationing in the Mackinaw City area and we recommend checking out the McGulpin Point Lighthouse and Headlands International Dark Sky Park while in the area. Jim DuFresne’s book 50 Hikes in Michigan features an in-depth look at a seven-mile long hike in Wilderness State Park that focuses on the Sturgeon Bay shoreline in the southwestern corner of the park.
Wilderness State Park is located at 903 Wilderness Park Dr. You can find out more about the park on the Michigan DNR site, and find a park map at http://www.michigandnr.com/wilderness_map.pdf. Reservations can be made online at https://www.midnrreservations.com/.