If you're looking at getting into backpacking or unsure if backpacking is for you, Negwegon is a great place to start. First of all, each of the sites are only a mile or two away from the parking lot of the park. This gives newbies the chance to take a small hike in for that backcountry feel. Second, each site has a fire ring and picnic table… and a vault toilet. This means you get a few of the comforts of car camping but with beautiful views of Lake Huron and limited interaction with humans. Staying at Blue Bell, site #1, we were treated with Lake Huron just about 100 feet away from our campsite. We had the chance to check out site #3– for those that love sand, that is the spot for you.
As for the camping site overall, #1 is a great start. It is about 75 feet off of the trail, but in the fall, foot traffic was very limited. The wind provided us with plenty of fallen limbs and brush to start a fire. If you pack a hatchet, options are expanded to larger fallen branches. There are a few spots on the site to pitch your tent– with it being windy, we setup tucked in a flat area surrounded by thick evergreen trees that provided wind protection. Lake Huron is very clear and we filtered about 10 cups of water to drink throughout our stay.
Going in mid-fall, be prepared for that breeze blowing off of the lake, we came prepared for the cold, if you don't, you'll be miserable. Upsides of camping in the fall, limited to no bugs. We didn't have any issue with bugs and in fact, we saw no wildlife at all– even including a hike up past site #4.
I throughly enjoyed my time at Bald Eagle State Park. We stayed at a tent site, I believe 58 in the rustic camping section. The rustic section was located around a large loop with each site ranging in a few feet from the car-friendly loop to about the 50 foot walk where our site was located. While this is a primitive site, planning ahead you can place yourself near the vault toilets. If there was running water in the bathrooms– we didn’t find it! There are several water pumps located around the loop and we used that for washing dishes. Our site had space for two tents with a nice fire ring and picnic table. The fire ring was actually one of the best I have experienced– featuring a grill grate with adjustable levels for exposure to heat. The site also had a hook for keeping food or garage elevated from critters. Hammock lovers: we had plenty of trees to easily string our hammock near the picnic table/fire ring. Now the trains. An active railroad sits about 75 feet away from several of the rustic sites. We noticed the 7 p.m. train on Saturday evening. What we didn’t expect was being awoken at 5 a.m. to a freight train blowing through full steam– really gets your heart pumping– did not need coffee that morning. The rustic area also has access to a trail that loops about two miles near the lake and rustic campground. It was a fun place!
While it’s frequently challenging to find spots on lakes or bodies of water in general– Van Buren has a short hike to get you to the beach. For those looking for seclusion… this is not your campsite. We had three tents in mid-October and we were within a sea of RVs. Sites are pretty close to each other but our neighbors were friendly. Remember not to move your firewood from out of state! We purchased a mix of firewood from the neighbors off-site and the check-in office. Our site had a nice picnic table and fire ring, however be prepared with your own grill grate or skewers. We had two dogs with us and well behaved dogs would fit in well here.