Bringing Fido on your next outdoor, overnight excursion? With a little planning, your canine companion will enjoy these dog-friendly Northern Michigan campgrounds just as much as you.
Featured in the April 2021 issue of Traverse Magazine.
South Higgins Lake State Park
This 1,000-acre park south of Grayling features nearly a mile of shoreline along Higgins Lake, a spring-fed body of water known for its clarity and fishing. Pitch your tent or park your RV at one of the 400 modern, hardwood-shaded campsites and enjoy the sandy beach, boat launch and picnic area.
Dog-Friendly Hike: You’ll find a self-guided nature trail with- in the park. For a longer and history-filled hike, take the short drive to Grayling and spend an afternoon exploring Hartwick Pines State Park’s trails through old growth white pines—some of these trees stretch more than 120 feet skyward and date back to before the Revolutionary War.
Pro Pup Tip: While all state park and state forest campgrounds are pet-friendly, not all cabins and lodges are, says Maia Turek, resource development specialist with the Michigan DNR Parks and Recreation Division. Visit michigan.gov/ParkPets for a list of options when traveling with your furry family members.
Empire Township Campground
Located about 10-15 minutes from Glen Arbor, this is a rustic and hidden gem of a campground. Reserve one of nine good-sized electric hookup sites, all nestled within towering pine trees, or opt for one of the remaining 51 sites deep in the woods nearby—all rustic.
Dog-Friendly Hike: Check out the more than 21-mile-long Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, which spans from the village of Empire to Bohemian Road at M-22. Start at the trailhead
in Empire, or drive to Glen Haven for a beach walk before hooking up to the trail near the parking lot and bright red Glen Haven Canning Co. building. Most of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is asphalt, but a three-mile section that goes through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District north of Glen Arbor is crushed stone, and there is also a boardwalk section over Narada Lake.
Pro Pup Tip: While Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore generally welcomes pets (Glen Haven beach is OK), certain areas, like the Dune Climb, are off-limits. Learn more at nps.gov/slbe.
Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort
This all-season resort is just eight minutes from downtown Traverse City. Tent and RV sites are available, or stay in one of the campground’s cabins.
Dog-Friendly Hike: Walking and hiking is easier than ever here, with more than 60K of Timber Ridge trails that connect to the popular Vasa trail system.
Pro Pup Tip: For a terrific out-and-back jaunt with your pup, head toward the Bartlett Road trailhead, about three miles one way from Timber Ridge. Just before the parking lot, you’ll reach a wood-planked bridge and the clear waters of Acme Creek—the ideal spot for a water break for your four-legged companion.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Escape to this U.P. treasure along Lake Superior and choose from rustic and modern sites (book early for waterfront sites!).Yurts and lodges are also available.
Dog-Friendly Hike: Head to the southwest side of the park for trails and waterfalls. The East River and West River trails follow Presque Isle River, the largest and most beautiful river in the Porkies. Spectacular waterfalls, cascades and rapids are a short walk from the parking area.
Pro Pup Tip: While it’s tempting to let your dog off-leash, be mindful of leash rules where you’re staying and remember that it’s possible for even the most well-behaved dogs to find themselves in a pickle if confronted with wildlife, strangers or other dogs.
Find this and more Fido-friendly articles in the April 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.