Many visitors come to Northern Michigan to enjoy the outdoors, and some of the best opportunities for recreation and relaxation are in the area parks. A number of city, county and state parks have beaches, trails, and boat and kayak launches. Local parks are also wonderful places to enjoy a leisurely stroll or watch the sunset. Here are five parks to visit on your next Northern Michigan adventure.
Young State Park – Young State Park is located on Lake Charlevoix, one of the largest inland lakes in Michigan with over 60 miles of shoreline. It’s also connected to Lake Michigan through the Pine River channel. You’ll find a sandy beach and a boat launch for boats under 16 feet. There’s even a pet-friendly section of the beach for your furry family members. The park also has over five miles of hiking trails. It’s close to Boyne City where you’ll find restaurants and shops.
Ferry Beach Park – Ferry Beach Park has a sandy swimming area on Lake Charlevoix along with a boat launch and kayak launch. You can also rent paddleboards. Other activities include basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, and a playground. Right next to the park is The Backlot, a unique outdoor dining concept with a bar, food trucks, and outdoor seating. You’re also just a short drive from downtown Charlevoix.
Bear River Valley Recreation Area – The Bear River Valley Recreation Area features a one-of-a-kind whitewater rafting course with a drop of over 75 feet and rapids up to class 3. The course is set up so that paddlers can run the course and then easily carry their kayak upstream to repeat parts of the course. A trail and lookouts allow those who prefer walking to enjoy the sights along the beautifully restored river corridor. The natural, outdoor area is located right in the heart of the city of Petoskey, where you can enjoy the local shops and restaurants.
Wilderness State Park – Wilderness State Park sits on Lake Michigan at the top of the Lower Peninsula and is a designated international dark sky preserve, helped by its remote and light-free location. Its 10,000 acres of terrain features everything from thick forests to wetlands to sandy beaches. Several hiking trails criss-cross the park. Be sure to take a map and compass. It’s easy to get lost in such a vast, undeveloped park. The park is just 15 minutes away from Mackinaw City and the ferries that travel to Mackinac Island.
Clinch Park – If you prefer a more urban experience, Clinch Park is located right in the center of downtown Traverse City, a small town with a big city feel. Clinch Park is home to the most popular beach in the area and is right next to the Clinch Marina. It has over 1,500 feet of beach along West Grand Traverse Bay. A splash pad, concessions, and a recreation trail round out the amenities. With its downtown location Clinch Park is close to many shops and restaurants.