August 18, 2014

Lake Michigan Recreation Area

The Lake Michigan Recreation Area gained one of the spots on my top 5 favorite locations in Michigan.   As per usual Teddy and I decided with a free weekend we needed to put our backpacking gear to good use.   We called multiple hiking trails across the state and wilderness sites seemed to be rather full for the weekend.  Upon calling the office for Lake Michigan Rec Area we found there weren't designated campsites, but rather you could campout anywhere along the trail- our favorite!  

Off we went to the shores of Lake Michigan with our backpacks and tent.  We hiked a mile or so out from the parking lot and found a spot right along the beach before the sun went down on Friday.  We could see other campsites in the distance from ours, but it felt private enough.  We built a bonfire right on the beach (another favorite!) and settled in for the night.  Being so close to the shore gave us peaceful waves to sleep to, soft sand to sleep on, and gorgeous stars to gaze up at through our tent (no rain fly needed!) 

The next day we hiked the entire length of the park along the beach.  And yes we hiked directly on the beach rather than heading back up to the trails.  It was more of a leisurely stroll with our packs rather than a strenuous hike, which was a nice change of pace.  We stopped early to set up camp at the far end of the park.  We then headed off to continue our beach walk sans our packs.  As we walked and talked we turned a corner on the beach and looked up to see the Ludington Lighthouse.  At the time we had no idea how far we had walked, but looking back at the map we had walked at least 12 miles. 

The lighthouse was closed for the evening so there were no tourists to be seen.  We enjoyed having the space to ourselves and walked around the compound.  We headed back to our campsite for another beachside bonfire and relaxing evening. On Sunday we hiked back to our car, which we realized felt much longer on the way back! Lake Michigan Recreation Area, we think you are the best mix of beaching it up and feeling one with the woods.

Final Word: A great place to go if you want to hike out to your campsite, but don't want to be too far out into the woods (think no fear of creatures lurking behind trees.)  You can find a secluded campsite but then splash around in the surf during the day. It is the best of both worlds. 

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