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I went to Pentoga many years as a kid, always a good time. They have a decent playground and camp store, the beach is great for swimming and the lake for fishing. They have a dock to jump off about 50' out, and another with a diving board about 200' out. There are trails and a lot of history to discover, it is quite crowded though…
The Michigan State Forest Campgrounds continue to delight us. For $15 a night you can experience camping like I did as a child – simple, unelectrified, and in beautiful outdoor locations. Lots of space in between most sites gives you a good deal of privacy. In mid-October, we woke up to full on winter one morning, so be prepared for anything in the shoulder season. Also, the entrance to this campground is not for low clearance vehicles…it is full of HUGE flooded potholes (small ponds really). Not recommended for 2 wheel drive, low clearance vehicles.
Getting to Big Lake leads you through some marvelous pine meadows and wetlands with browsing deer and pheasants. The North Country Trail (long distance backpacking trail) winds through this part of the UP, and the Big Lake campground would make a perfect starting or ending place for a section hike. Within 10 miles back on the highway is a large gas station/convenience store and café where you could get a hot meal or stock up on a few essentials.
Opportunities for hiking, biking, paddling or fishing abound in this area, so plan to bring your gear with you. There is a small craft launch right in the campground to access the lake, which as it turns out isn’t very big when you compare it to nearby Lake Superior. I imagine that this might be a popular deer hunting campground during rifle season. Bathrooms are simple pit-toilets, and water is accessible year-round with the hand operated well pump.
Great off the beaten path spot. There is a boat launch right at this site and a small private beach that can be used for wonderful star gazing. Sites are small and close together. The bathrooms (outhouse style) while clean, were full of bugs. I was there in early September on a Sunday night and it was my group and one other very quiet. Once the fishers left it was completely silent and secluded. Would tent camp again