The stunning, 1300-acre Leelanau State Park, Michigan, is your vacation destination, sitting at the very tip of Leelanau County. At Leelanau State Park, Michigan, pitch a tent at one of the 55 rustic campsites, rent a mini-cabin or make a day out of exploring the 8.5 miles of hiking trails at this state park, featuring Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum and hidden beaches.
No pets are allowed on the shoreline because the area is a prime nesting ground for the tiny, rare piping plover. Spot them (from a distance)—and find blissful solitude—at secluded Cathead Bay, reached by a ¾-mile walk from the parking lot, over forested dunes nearly as enchanting as the sandy cove beach. Here’s everything you need to know about Leelanau State Park.
Grand Traverse Lighthouse
This 1858 beauty that sits within the equally gorgeous Leelanau State Park has been fully restored. Climb 50 feet to the top of the tower for an unforgettable view of Lake Michigan, and tour the keeper’s quarters and exhibits that feature lighthouse history and archaeology, shipwrecks and area Native American settlements. A rare opportunity to live a lightkeeper’s life is offered through a volunteer keeper program.
Find the Grand Traverse Lighthouse: 9 miles north of Northport on Lighthouse Point Rd.
Leelanau State Park Camping
Up at the tippy top of the Leelanau Peninsula, you’ll wake to Lake Michigan sunrises and go to sleep to Lake Michigan sunsets at this state park that houses a rustic campground and three mini cabins. Learn more about these cabins and how you can book yours today on the Michigan DNR website.
Discover more campgrounds at our Northern Michigan Camping page. Searching for a warm and cozy bed instead of a tented trip? View our Leelanau Lodging Options for Your Northern Michigan Getaway.
Hiking Trails at Leelanau State Park
Six miles of looped trails that cover everything from hills, forested trails, wetlands along serene Mud Lake and dunes make this a lovely hiking destination. Don’t miss the 2.2-mile roundtrip hike to Manitou Overlook, accessed from the Lake Michigan Trail where (on clear days) you’ll see North Manitou and the Fox Islands floating on the horizon. Access the trailhead at the end of Densmore Road, approximately five miles south of the lighthouse/day-use area.
Related Read: Red Hot Best 2021: The Best of Benzie & Leelanau.
Visit Cathead Bay at Leelanau State Park
This pristine bay on Lake Michigan with its 1.5 miles of shoreline (no pets, please), wide sandy beaches and great rock hunting lies at the park’s southern end. Access it from the main trailhead at the end of Densmore Road, five miles south of the campground. Once you park your car, you’ll need to hike about a mile along the Lake Michigan Trail/Cathead Spur to reach the beach—a destination that’s well worth the effort!
Related Read: Northern Michigan Dog-Friendly Parks & Preserves in Leelanau.
Photo by Shea Haddad