An expansive 26 miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline are hugged by 10,000 acres of wild forested landscapes at Wilderness State Park. Here you will find opportunity to observe nature via numerous trails and plentiful campsites. A huge benefit to the park is its year-round recreational activities and camping opportunities.
In fact, you can look forward to well equipped, modern campsites, as well as full hook-up and tent-only campsites. Moreover, Six rustic cabins and three rustic bunkhouses serve as additional lodging accommodations within the park. You’ll rarely find difficulty locating a spot to stay, as the park consists of 250 campsites that are divided into two units (Lakeshore and Pines), as well as 18 sites in the full hook-up campground and nine sites in the tent-only campground.
When looking for something to do, make sure to check out the multitude of local trails. More than 16 miles of traversable paths wind through the cycle-friendly East Boundary, South Boundary, Nebo, Sturgeon Bay, Swamp Line and Big Stone trails. Furthermore, ten miles of The North Country Trail reside within the state park, as well as the Ride Pine Trail. This national scenic trail hiking route from North Dakota to New York includes more than 1,500 miles of historic foot trails throughout the midwest region.
Kids (and adults) will love the Wilderness State Park geocaching trail. 16 individual geocaches are included in the trail, with four caches in the park for those just starting out. For the creative types, the region is well known for Metal Detecting. Metal detecting is encouraged by the park’s officers and enforcement, however it must be safe and away from any natural resources or otherwise preserved land. Therefore, it’s essential to check in with rangers before taking any finds home, as well as to hunt only in the permitted areas.
Throughout the region outdoor enthusiasts flock to take part in seasonal hunting. This park is known for its excellent deer and snowshoe hare hunting. There are also fowl opportunities thanks to the grouse, duck, and goose. Amazingly, even bear hunting is common, and legal with the appropriate license; although that doesn’t mean you must try it.
As far as other recreational activities, the 26 miles of sandy beach shores and large boat launch draw many in the summer. The shores also have a popular fishing pier, with a populated swim hole nearby.
Due to the large campground size, camping here is relatively comfortable as well. There are widely accessible electrical services, shower houses, RV dump stations, and camper-friendly amenities throughout the campground.
We stayed at Wilderness State Park the end of July. It was out second time camping at the the Pines Campground. There are two other camping options in the park, the East and West Lakeshore campgrounds, but the Pines sites are very nice and just a short bike ride away from the beach areas.
This time of year (summer/July), the campgrounds are completely booked on the weekends, but of you're looking for a site for a night or two, I recommend you keep checking the DNR for cancellations or camp during the weekdays.
The Pines Campground has spacious 20/30 amp sites, but no full hookups available. Each site looked pretty level with room for a tent or popup and plenty of extra room for a screen room. There were a lot of big RVs in the campground, but not a lot of room to move around them. I was surprised to see what some folks were comfortable driving in there.
There are several short trails for hiking and biking. The Pondside trail is about a quarter mile with benches to relax and view wildlife around the pond. My dog liked taking a dip there every day while I enjoyed some photography.
The shower house and bathrooms get pretty crowded with all those sites full of people and only one facility to accommodate them all. Expect a wait if you plan to shower just before quiet time.
Don't miss your chance to spend time on the beach while you're there. My kids and I always find a nice selection of fossils along the shore. The beach isn't very wide, so you may want to take chairs or a thick blanket to sit on in the grassy areas.
If you want a good meal in the area, Darrow's and Pancake Chef are two family friendly restaurants with good prices and a great selection. My son was celebrating his 12th birthday the day we left Wilderness SP for the UP and we stopped in Pancake Chef after packing for breakfast. When our server heard it was his birthday, she brought him a 6" cake with a candle to celebrate later. We thought that was pretty cool because he wouldn't have gotten a birthday cake otherwise.
Overall, Wilderness SP is one of our favorite campgrounds and we plan to visit every year possible. There is a lot to do in the city, like shopping and touristy stuff, if you're into that sort of thing, but if you're looking for relaxation, stay in the park and enjoy yourself.
My wife and I spent the first day and night of Memorial Day weekend at one of the cabins here and absolutely loved it. Private and peaceful with unmatched views of the night sky over the lake. The cabins are simple but perfect for the basics of what you need for a great time outdoors.
This is a beautifully placed campground right near the mackinaw bridge. Most sites are on the water and the campground has water and electric hookups. Unfortunately the sites have minimal trees and are far too close together. The views and the swimming make up for it though. I generally opt for the rustic cabins located on the far end of the park because they provide more privacy and a better area to spread out in. Also a wonderful place for winter camping and star shooting.
Great place. They pack you in in some places but there are some spots that put you right on the beach. Great little camp store for ice cream, wood, and essentials
Great park have camped there multiple times in the cabins and in a tent. Right on the water with great trails for hiking and walking a dog.
Off the main roadways a bit, the road going in needs some work but the park itself is beautiful. Just stay away if mosquitos and flys turn you off
Not much privacy. Nice setting along the lake.
Really cool area, it’s near the only dark sky park to my knowledge in the lower peninsula. Extremely close to mackinaw, and overall the campsites are all secluded and private from each other.
I tent camped here with my parents, and came back often with my own children. Far enough from Mackinaw City for peace and quiet, near enough to visit all the attractions during the day. Tall trees and a beautiful beach. It,s a great vacation destination. One of the best state park campgrounds in a state full of beauties.
We had a great time here. We rented a cabin for the whole family. The cabin was clean a very cozy.