Future trips I am planning
To help me remember some of the places I have read or heard about that I would like to visit someday, I am putting together this page to help me plan my future trips exploring Michigan. I get my ideas from many sources, sometimes they start as just a line in a newspaper article that strikes my curiosity, which leads to further research, which helps me decide on places to go. For example, there was an article about the Saint Helena Lighthouse in the Grand Rapids Press, which caught my interest in the first place, since I am interested in the old lighthouses on the Great Lakes. The article also stated that the rest of the island is owned by the Little Traverse Conservancy as a nature preserve. That really piqued my interest, so some online research lead me to the home page for the Little Traverse Conservancy, where I found they had many preserves in the Straits area that are open to the public. Some have marked trails, others are just completely undeveloped land. Of course, that led me to join that organization, a link can be found on the right side of this page. You don’t have to be a member to check out their preserves, but from what I have seen, they do an excellent job that I am happy to help out with.
Another way I find places I would like to explore is Google Earth. If you are some one into the outdoors and you’re not using Google Earth, you are missing out. They allow people to upload photos to Google Earth, and the other night I was proving a point to some one using Google Earth to make my point. Since I had it open to an area I haven’t visited nearly enough, I was checking out the photos people had uploaded, and found Michigan’s Fayette State Park. I had heard of it, but have never checked out exactly what the park has to offer, silly me. The park includes a “ghost town” of a once busy iron smelting operation, and the town that grew up around it, complete with many of the old buildings. Wow! I have to check that out, I love history. Further checking on Google Earth brought up photos of limestone cliffs in the area, much like the Pictured Rocks, but smaller in stature, but some interesting rock formations as well. Now I just have to go there some day, the sooner, the better.
This list is just the start for now, I will be editing this page often, adding more information and links as time goes on, but this gets me started.
Saint Helena Island and Lighthouse.
You can only reach it by boat or kayak, it is 266 acres, completely uninhabited except for the lighthouse itself. The rest of the island is open to explore, but no overnight camping or fires permitted. I have to find a good spot to put my kayak in to reach the island, but it is only a 3 to 5 mile paddle to the island, depending on where I find to put in from. It will make a great day trip on an extended weekend, weather permitting, to check out the island and the historic lighthouse.
Pigeon River Country.
Always on my list, I have been going there since I was a kid and still hardly know it at all. I will be there again for a week in early May to do some fishing, maybe kayaking, and as always, exploring parts of the Big Wild I haven’t made it to yet. You can read about one of my other trips there by clicking this link, and this one. Gee, I am falling behind here. I did the May trip, I am going back again for the Labor Day weekend. Here’s a link to the Labor Day trip.
The Mason Tract.
A 4,493 acre special management area along the South Branch of the Au Sable River designed to protect the quality fishing waters of this area. The Mason Tract originated from acceptance of a 1500-acre gift from The George Mason family in 1954. Over time, additional acreage has been acquired from the US Forest Service and private individuals through land exchanges. The Mason gift was contingent the area be used as a permanent game preserve, no part shall ever be sold by the state, and no camping be allowed in the area for 25 years. The State of Michigan has continued the no camping restriction in the Mason Tract. The only camping allowed is within Canoe Harbor State Forest Campground, located at the north end of the Tract on the Au Sable River. The Mason Tract offers quality fishing, hunting, and canoeing opportunities. The Mason Tract is home to the pristine Mason Chapel. The Mason Family constructed the Chapel in 1960 to provide fishermen with a place of reverence and has developed into a popular tourist attraction. The Mason Tract also contains the Mason Tract Pathway, which is used for hiking and cross-country skiing. I have fished the south branch of the Au Sable many times, but back when catching fish was important to me, so in a way, I am rediscovering this gem. The river is as awesome as ever, both for fishing and just for looking at, but there is a lot more to the Mason Tract left for me to explore.
The DeWard Tract.
The DeWard tract is a 4,720 acre special management area located in Antrim, Crawford, Kalkaska, and Otsego Counties. Access is restricted in the area to protect the Upper Manistee River corridor and to provide a “quality” fishing experience. Camping is limited to within 50 feet of roads posted as open to protect this sensitive river corridor. The area encompasses the site of the historic lumbering village of DeWard. It also contains the only Pine Stump Preserve in Michigan. In 1958 an area of 42.5 acres was dedicated as a Pine Stump Preserve in efforts to protect evidence of the early logging efforts in Michigan. Several foot access sites are maintained throughout the DeWard Tract providing user access to the river. I just “discovered” this a couple of years ago, and haven’t had the time to do more than poke around a little and start to get a feel for it. It could easily become one of my favorite places to go from what I have seen. So far I have only wandered along the Manistee River, and it is absolutely beautiful! I love the Pigeon River, but this section of the Manistee is really something as well. In the short time I spent there, I didn’t come across any of the remains of the town that used to be there, I have heard only the foundations are left, I hope to find them on one of my next trips there.
This is a little park in Allegan County, not normally something I would put on this list, but this park is personal to me. My aunt and uncle donated the land for this park to the county with the stipulation that it be used as a park. I have finally made it to this park, you can read about it here.
Ludington State Park.
Updated: I hiked the Island Trail, and it was everything I had hoped for and more! You can read about it here, along with photos of course.
OK, so it is far from the more remote areas I normally go, but I just “re-discovered” this park when I was on a mission to photograph the lighthouses on Lake Michigan. Ludington State Park is comprised of scenic sand dunes, a shoreline vista, ponds, marshlands and forests. It is situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan with several miles of shoreline and beaches on both bodies of water, and is approximately 5300 acres in size. We used to go there often when I was a kid, and my uncle Ted had a trailer there for years that he used as a cottage. I have read about the canoe trail there, and have thought about doing that with my kayak, now I think I will. There is also a good system of hiking trails too, and I really want to try out the “Island Trail” there. I just have to figure out how to fit it in. I won’t camp there, the sites are too close together, and the park too crowded for me in the summer.
I am trying out some new things on the page for this area. Please bear with me as I put the entire package together. In the little research I have done so far, not even a week-long trip there would be enough time to cover everyplace I want to see. Once I have all the information assembled on the main page for the area, I’ll break it down into weekend trips, long weekend trips, and week-long trips. I made a scouting trip by vehicle of the area, and you can read about it here.
I am just starting to put this one together, but I already have a map with many points of interests marked and the basics done. I will be adding more to it though.
There’s a ghost town that was the town surrounding an iron smelting plant that is maintained by Michigan DNR to see, plus several kayaking day trips along Michigan’s Garden Peninsula.