Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Lake Michigan – Leelanau State Park
The Leelanau Peninsula that separates Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay is known for its scenic beauty, abundance of wineries, excellent fishing near Northport, and Leelanau State Park. The state park sits at the tip of the peninsula and features more than 50 rustic campsites, hiking trails, and a historic lighthouse. That lighthouse is the Grand Traverse Lighthouse (also known as Cat’s Head light), a structure that dates back to 1858 and is now open for tours as a maritime museum. Haunted Lighthouse weekend takes place October 17th and 18th, with “spooky tours,” a “haunted basement,” pumpkin bowling, Halloween crafts and s’mores.
This lighthouse replaced the original one that was built here in 1852 and deemed inadequate after only six years. It was automated in 1972, and its tower stands 42 feet above the lake. The green trim and red roof stand out against the white paint that covers the rest of the building and the tower is capped with a lantern room painted black. The site is listed as a historic site on both the Michigan list and the National Register of Historic Places.
An admission fee of $4 (children $2) gets visitors in to this historic building that remains popular because of its unique architecture and colorful paint. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. through October 31st, then Saturdays and Sundays only in November (except Thanksgiving weekend). The views from the top of the tower are amazing, and part of the interior has been restored to show what keeper’s quarters looked like in the 1920s and 1930s.
Other things to see on the grounds include the fog signal building, short trails to the shoreline, and numerous decorative planters that were constructed out of rocks by former keeper James McCormick. The lighthouse can be reached by taking M-22 to Northport, then taking M-201 through Northport; it will become CR-640 and then CR-629 which will lead the rest of the way to the state park and a parking area for the lighthouse. A Michigan recreation passport is required for entry, it is free to visit the lighthouse grounds but a fee is required to enter the building.