dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/11/16 8:08 a.m.

So I've been wanting to do this for a while now and I'm going to commit to it next summer. My only experience with Michigan is Detroit so hopefully some of you guys can point me towards some ideal camping spots.

I'll be driving up from Cincinnati and plan to spread this out along seven days. Hopefully that will give me enough time to go at a nice pace and not feel rushed.

Plan on taking my bike and most likely a kayak. I'll be tent camping and traveling via either my Mazda 5 or 2 so I'll be packing light and have no off road adventures planned unless they can be done on bike.

PS. have never beach camped and really want to.

Thanks Dan

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UltraDork
6/11/16 12:20 p.m.

What's your travel path? I suggest driving up Michigan's west coast along Lake Michigan. Grand Haven has a beautiful beach and a breakwater that goes way out into the lake that you can walk. And the state park where you can camp is right next to it.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a must-see, along with the Leelanau Peninsula. Lots of good camping there, we stayed at a nice RV resort right on Lake Leelanau last year. Farther up the coast, the "Tunnel of trees" is a must-drive. Then you can make your way to Mackinac and the bridge to the UP.

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
6/11/16 12:46 p.m.

We circumnavigated Lake Superior last summer. We didn't do much camping on the lake itself because we were staying on my parents boat. The one private campground we stayed in on Superior near Ste Saint Marie on the Canadian side was pretty bad. Crowded and noisy. We did visit most of the Provincial Parks around the lake and they are beautiful. The camping areas were very nice, but they are pretty pricey for Americans. I remember $40+ a night for a small camper. Tent camping should be less though.

https://www.ontarioparks.com/reservations This is a pretty good link for the Provincial Parks in Ontario if you are going to hit the Canadian side. Other than the Canadians habit of applying graffiti to every rock, bridge, and flat surface, it's a beautiful area. I'd love to spend a couple of months up there, wandering around.

My only other suggestion is leave the itinerary fairly open and go wherever the mood takes you. We were under a fairly tight schedule, because we were meeting my parents. That took some of the fun out of the trip.

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/11/16 12:52 p.m.

I'm thinking drive north along lake Michigan to the peninsula. Spend some time there. Travel back down along lake Huron. I could easily flip that though but I figure the states beauty is along the coast near the lakes.

Plan to stay within the us and not travel to Canada. I do want to keep it fairly loose but if I'm going to be up that way and it's a must see id like to see it. The whole idea the trip is to have fun, see the natural beauty the state has to offernot, get too touristy.

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke SuperDork
6/11/16 2:20 p.m.

It will probably suck up too much time, but you should check out Beaver Island. The ferry ride out there is about 3 hours iirc. Very forested, 90% gravel roads, couple of nice beaches. You could kayak from Beaver to uninhabited High island and camp there. I did that once. Kinda fun knowing you're the only person/people on the island. Which makes hearing the wild chickens rustle through the brush that much more weird feeling. Also sleeping bear dunes.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy PowerDork
6/14/16 7:20 p.m.

We liked the dunes. Hit the locks. Study up on the Edmund Fitzgerald wreck - interesting.

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/20/16 4:22 p.m.

So the rough plan is to drive thru Indiana and spend the first night at Indiana dunes state park. From there go on to sleeping bear dunes. Travel on to the UP to pictured rocks and whitefish point ( want to spend a few days up there camping and exploring). Then head down on the east side of the state along Huron stopping off at Port Austin. Then jumping back into Ohio and camping on Put in bay island. Those are the spots I want to camp at but I do have stops planned along the way. Do you guys think 7 days is enough time?

WilD
WilD HalfDork
6/20/16 4:34 p.m.

I love Michigan, have lived here all my life and have no illusions I have seen it all. But here are a couple campgrounds that might be on your route that I've stayed at and why they are cool:

  1. Fisherman's Island State Park - Takes reservations and has campsites right up against the Lake Michigan shoreline (as well as some in the woods). The beach here is rocky, and it is a good place to find Petoskey stones. It's a simple park with a few miles of coast to walk and a few miles of trail that climbs a sandy ridge for great views, a few small streams and rustic vault toilets. As a bonus, it is right outside Charlevoix, so has easy access to town stuff. There is also a paved bike path from Charlevoix to Petoskey along the coast, but I believe it starts at the opposite side of town. When I stayed here, my tent was an easy stones toss from lake Michigan, as well as a small stream. Very Pretty.

  2. Little Beaver Lake Campground inside Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - Tiny rustic campground on Little Beaver lake. No reservations when I stayed there, but we did score a campsite right on the lake so could simply push our kayaks in or out of the water at will. Little beaver lake is attached to Big Beaver lake which flows into Lake Superior via a creek, and you might be able to traverse the creek out into Lake Superior (not sure on this point, we didn't make it that far due to crazy strong winds while we were there). There is a trail out to the Lake Superior beach and connects to the lakeshore/NC trail. It is an easy day hike from this campground to Spray Falls.

  3. You mentioned Kayak, and this is advanced, but there is camping on South Manitou Island, a few miles off the coast from Sleeping Bear Dunes. I have not gone, but my friends think it is something we should try though I am apprehensive of the crossing. There is also a ferry... :p

There is so much more... What kind of bike, MTB or roadie?

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/20/16 8:23 p.m.

Mountain bike. #3 is probably a bit beyond my kayaking comfort level but thanks for posting .

WilD
WilD HalfDork
6/21/16 9:09 a.m.
dankspeed said: Mountain bike.

You may have already found this and it is not 100% comprehensive, but is a pretty good tool for finding a trail: http://mmba.org/trail-guide/

dropstep
dropstep Dork
6/21/16 5:23 p.m.
dankspeed wrote: So the rough plan is to drive thru Indiana and spend the first night at Indiana dunes state park. From there go on to sleeping bear dunes. Travel on to the UP to pictured rocks and whitefish point ( want to spend a few days up there camping and exploring). Then head down on the east side of the state along Huron stopping off at Port Austin. Then jumping back into Ohio and camping on Put in bay island. Those are the spots I want to camp at but I do have stops planned along the way. Do you guys think 7 days is enough time?

put in bay island is pretty crowded during tourist season, good place to go if your going real late or real early in the season though. Spent a few nights there when i lived in port clinton.

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/22/16 3:44 a.m.

I'd imagine most of the places I want to go could be crowded. I've been there before in the off season and it wasn't too bad. I'll have to make my camping reservation there very early to ensure I'll get a spot.

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/22/16 10:27 a.m.

Anyone have any idea what kind of temps I'll see late August early Sept along the lakes?

Kramer
Kramer Dork
6/24/16 4:16 p.m.

Go St Rt 127 instead of I75. Much more scenic. Does take extra time, though. Worth it.

Disclaimer, I grew up 50 miles north of Cinti on 127, so I'm biased. But we'd drive that often when going to Michigan International Speedway.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
6/26/16 6:40 a.m.
dankspeed wrote: Anyone have any idea what kind of temps I'll see late August early Sept along the lakes?

Daytimes 70-90
Nights 50-75

Perfect time of the year.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
6/26/16 6:56 a.m.
dankspeed wrote: So the rough plan is to drive thru Indiana and spend the first night at Indiana dunes state park. From there go on to sleeping bear dunes. Travel on to the UP to pictured rocks and whitefish point ( want to spend a few days up there camping and exploring). Then head down on the east side of the state along Huron stopping off at Port Austin. Then jumping back into Ohio and camping on Put in bay island. Those are the spots I want to camp at but I do have stops planned along the way. Do you guys think 7 days is enough time?

I think you have 4 separate one week trips here.

1: Indiana Coast of Lake Michigan to Traverse City

2: Traverse City to Mackinaw

3: Mackinaw to Upper Peninsula

Add in the Eastern side of the Michigan to any of these.

4: Put-in-Bay and Kelley's Island, Ohio

Here is a rough map of the single trip you have mentioned and it is well over 2,000 miles in just driving. If you covered 400 miles a day you could figure about 8 hours of car travel for 5 days with a stop for lunch.
This hardly leaves you time to "go slow" with the bike or kayak that you are dragging along.

Personally, I'd want more time out of the car and more time on the bike or kayak.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
6/26/16 7:09 a.m.

I will plan you a camping/kayak/MTB trip based out of Charlevoix, MI

Though I live in Sandusky, OH and am intimately familiar with Put-in-Bay and Kelley's Island, my Grandparents on my mother's side were both born on the shores of Lake Charlevoix (one in the town of East Jordan and the other in Boyne City) where they retired back to. As a kid, what we did for the summer was visit them at the Lake. They've since both passed but it remains my favorite place in the world.

Writing this will be long. Check back later when I have more time.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
6/26/16 7:24 a.m.

A couple of questions:

Will you be doing this trip alone?
If no, who else and more so, male or female and what ages?

I'm planning for you 2 river runs via kayak (one per day), could be 3 rivers as well as 2 lake kayak days could be 4 in 2-4 different lakes.
Too much kayak or not enough?

Figure 2 MTB days on tough terrain and 1 full day of paved terrain and some every day on "streets".
Too much or not enough?

Camping via tent every night or some hotel nights?
I'll recommend about 3 different camp/parks you can switch from place to place if you want or use 1 as a central location so as to not have to "set up" every day.
Keep in mind that in this part of Northern MI, the parks "sell out" on reservations about 1 year in advance...really. Movement from park to the other on a whim is unlikely (maybe during the week) but impossible on the weekend.

I highly recommend the week after Labor Day which assures that the kids will be back in school and therefore means a huge drop in demand/prices. Michigan actually has a state law that school can not start before Labor Day which then assures that all schools start the week after Labor Day.

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/26/16 8:06 p.m.

Thanks John! That's awfully kind of you.

I'll do my best to answer your questions. Just me on this trip. All camping. No hotel stays. Beach camping is preferred. While I am bringing along a bike and kayak I don't need to do one or the other every day. Hiking and just walking around checking out the local scenery is also in the mix I'm not a hardcore mountain biker or kayaker so anything I do will need to be moderately easy.

After looking at your map (thanks again) it does appear I'm going to be cramming too much into a short amount of time.

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/26/16 8:07 p.m.

My initial goal was to do no more than three hours of driving a day.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
6/26/16 10:02 p.m.

Trying to incorporate some of your original plan, you could do this:

Day 1: drive from Cinci to Indiana Coast. That's about 4.5 hours of straight driving.
Spend the night there. I have no insight.

Day #2 Indiana Coast to Sleeping Bear Dunes. That's about another 4.5 hours of driving. Pretty things along the way too. Spend some time at the sand. Maybe stay there.
I've been there years ago but have little local knowledge.
Visitors Guide

1.5 hours north will get you to Charlevoix Area so may be that is your final goal for day #2.

OR

Skip Indiana and Sand Dunes and head straight up I-75 to the Charlevoix area on Day #1. It would be an 8 hour drive so leave Cinci early so as to not have to set up your tent in the dark.

Camping locations in Charlevoix Area:
Fisherman's Island State Park in Charlevoix. On the shores of Lake Michigan. Bigger lake can lead to significant amount to wind. Sand beaches but must walk on rocks in the water. Trip Advisor

Young State Park in neighboring Boyne City. Located on inland lake, Lake Charlevoix some much less difficult winds. Not a tiny lake. Lake Charlevoix is roughly 3 miles wide and 14 miles long. Over 150 deep at its deepest but wonderful sand beaches and sand bottom to the lake. Trip Advisor

Whiting County Parkmuch smaller local, county park with camping. Small place but it will likely still be full. You will be able to see Lake Charlevoix from your camp site. Yelp

Petoskey State Park in neighboring city of Petoskey. Trip Advisor

All are good. I have not camped in any in years but I might recommend Whiting as a smaller local vibe. All the other are Michigan State Parks. The Michigan State Parks are very well run. There is a required admission sticker/pass but one pass will bet you into all parks for the day/week/year.

Kayak:
The Jordan River Valley. The Jordan River is one of the tributaries flowing into Lake Charlevoix. The river ends and the lake starts at the City of East Jordan at which point, the lake is known as The South Arm of Lake Charlevoix Through Companies like this you can arange livery service so you can spot your car down stream and only have to maneuver the river along with the current.
Trip Advisor
Informative video

The other tributary to Lake Charlevoix is The Boyne River.
A livery service for Boyne River and a place to call for some local knowledge.
Sample video
When goggling anything about The Boyne River, be aware that there is also a Boyne River in Ireland (the original) which is a much more violent river.

For more rivers, about and hour south there is also the Au Sable River (locally pronounce Awe Saw Ba). This is wider river and very popular. Companies like this will help you spot a car at various lengths. This river is long enough that there is overnight camping available along the way if you want to camp out of a canoe. Located in the area of Grayling, MI. You can goggle a whole lot about The AuSable River.
Sample videos
Sample videos of Canoe Camping day #1
Day 2
You could camp down this way or just come down here for a day trip keeping your base camp in Charlevoix area.

Lake Kayaking:

Certainly Lake Charlevoix.
Many places you can drop in.
For a local vibe and if you can beach launch here is a tip. Find Glenwood Beach Rd in Boyne City This road of cottages dead ends at the water but also at the dead end you come to edge of Young State Park. This is a real "locals" swimming area. Nice sand (mixed with a little grey clay) that is very shallow a long way out but what makes this beach the best is that while the State Park beach will be packed with people, this beach will have maybe one or two other people there even on the busiest holiday weekend. This is fully open to the public and there is some on street parking where the road ends but since it is about 1 mile down a dead end road, only the locals know of its existence.

Here is a picture of The City of Charlevoix, MI.

It boasts that it is a city on 3 lakes.
At the top of the photo you have Lake Charlevoix then a channel to Round Lake and then a draw bridge and channel to Lake Michigan. All of this is within the small city's city limits.

Round Lake is neat harbor. I am not a Kayaker but I think it would be neat to Kayak in the harbor. I must note that this should be done on a week day. On the weekends this harbor gets very busy and a giant power boat could kill you.
I would recommend you put in at Depot Park on Lake Charlevoix. Near the youth sailboats you will find a dock at the park or beach launch. This park is on Lake Charlevoix but right at the mouth of the channel leading to Round Lake. You can the kayak the channel and round lake. Make not to check out Park Island and get a good close look at this boathouse previously owned by the owner of Four Winns Boats
Second video

Another boat house down the street

I can't say I recommend kayaking in Lake Michigan. Waves can be pretty turbulent on the Great Lakes in unprotected water.

I do recommend two other inland lakes in the area. Torch Lake or Walloon Lake.

More later...

dankspeed
dankspeed HalfDork
6/27/16 7:36 p.m.

That's a boat load of info. Thanks!!

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
6/27/16 9:29 p.m.

Next we'll talk biking and "things to do"
The Mackinaw Bridge is just a hour north and that will certainly be on the list of things to do.

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