Northern Michigan Attractions: Camp Smart in the Michigan State Forest

Northern Michigan Attractions: Michigan announced earlier this year that budget cuts were forcing the DNR to close 23 state forest campgrounds, but then reversed course in June and decided to keep them all open—for this year at least. Can we get an Amen!

Here, then, is our ode to the state forest campground, 10 we think you oughta seek to find your Michigan bliss this August.

1. Lake Ann CampgroundPerched on the shore of lovely Lake Ann, with that cute village of same name just across the water. Platte River headwaters and good hiking right there. 30 sites. Almira & Reynolds Road, Lake Ann, Benzie County.

2. Platte River State Forest CampgroundWith the Platte River sweeping along its eastern flank, this rustic camp near the Honor Fish Hatchery is the perfect place to pitch a tent, don the waders and cast a fly. 26 sites. U.S. 31 and Platte River, Benzie County.

3. Healy Lake State Forest CampgroundA peaceful little camp laid out along the shore of Healy Lake, east of Bear Lake. Bring a boat (rowboat or canoe are fine on this diminutive water), because the pan-fishing rocks. 24 sites. Northeast of 13 Mile and Healy Lake Rd., Manistee County.

4. Lake Dubonnet State Forest CampgroundJust 15 miles southwest of TC’s bustle, but feels a world away. Excellent fishing with tons of structure that the bass and panfish love. 50 sites (horses welcome), Grand Traverse County.

5. Guernsey Lake State Forest CampgroundPart of the Sand Lakes Quiet Area, this camp is connected to 11 miles of rolling trails and near forest-encircled lakes stocked with rainbow trout and brook trout. 36 sites. South of M-72 on Broomhead Rd. near Williamsburg, Grand Traverse County.

6. Graves Crossing State Forest CampgroundA Lilliputian camp that has long drawn wading trout fishermen because above this point on the Jordan River canoes are banned. Just 10 sites set amid the beautiful and wild Jordan River Valley and, for hikers, right on the 18-mile pathway. M-66 north of Mancelona, Antrim County.

7. Upper Manistee River State Forest CampgroundIn the heart of Michigan fly-fishing and canoeing country, this camp echoes the best of Michigan’s outdoor heritage. 40 sites, but 10 are walk-in only. Co Road 612 & Goose Creek Road, 8 miles southwest of Frederic, Crawford County.

8. Baxter Bridge State Forest CampgroundA classic campground among Michigan outdoorsmen, perched as it is along some of the state’s most legendary fly-fishing waters on the Manistee River. 25 sites. 12 miles northwest of Manton via M-42 and 31 Road, Wexford County.

9. Big Eric’s Bridge State Forest CampgroundA bit of a yank from Detroit, but this camp laid out along the Huron River in the rugged ground west of Big Bay is worth the miles. Rocky river, tumbling water. Wolves howling. Sweet. 20 sites, Baraga County.

10. Emily LakeWith a deep and right-sized (54 acres) lake right there, this mini-camp of just nine sites is ready to deliver both privacy and big fish. If things get too quiet, buzz into the college town of Houghton for a micro-brew 20 miles north on M-26, Houghton County.

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