7 Michigan State Parks That Are Genuine Hidden Gems

August 31, 2021

7 Michigan State Parks That Are Genuine Hidden Gems

Boasting more than 3,000 miles of shoreline along four of the five Great Lakes, It’s no secret that Michigan is filled with vast natural beauty just waiting to be explored.  

Although you may have heard of or even visited some of the more popular Michigan State Parks—Saugatuck Dunes, Porcupine Mountain, Mackinac Island, and several others—the Great Lakes State is home to several ‘hidden gems’  that are sure to take your breath away, too! 

7 Michigan State Parks That Are Genuine Hidden Gems

Whether your bucket list includes peaceful nature hikes along scenic vistas, tranquil fishing experiences on pristine lakes, or a quiet night under a vast expanse of brightly lit stars, you’ll find all of this and more at these Michigan State Parks!

Onaway State Park

If a peaceful nature retreat is what you're seeking, then Onaway State Park is for you! These 158 rugged acres consist of remarkable views overlooking Black Lake, lovely white pine forests and striking rock formations. 

Leisurely wander through the park's natural beauty on a three-mile nature trail. Or rent a canoe, kayak or rowboat for a bit of time down-time on the water. And if you're feeling up for a little adventure, seek out the largest waterfall in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Ocqueoc Falls—just ten miles from this Michigan State Park. 

Lake Hudson Recreation Area

You might be surprised to learn that one of Michigan's seven dark-sky preserves is located in the southeast corner of the Lower Peninsula, a little more than 90 minutes southwest of Detroit. And you may even be more surprised to know that this was the very first dark-sky preserve in the entire United States!  

No-wake boating on Covell and Bear Lake makes this a peaceful place to camp, swim, fish and hike. And of course, stargazing here is a must, too!

Menominee River State Recreation Area

Michigan and Wisconsin share responsibility for preserving the Menominee River State Recreation Area as this undeveloped river crosses the Upper Peninsula-Wisconsin border before flowing swiftly into Lake Michigan.  

Almost 10,000-acres of lush forests surround the river, while rugged gorges and vast stretches of calm flowing waters create an ideal environment for whitewater rafting, kayaking, fishing and tranquil wildlife viewing. 

F.J. McLain State Park

If you get the opportunity to explore the Upper Peninsula's Keweenaw Peninsula, don't skip over F.J. Mclain State Park, where you can enjoy brilliant sunset views along two miles of Lake Superior's sandy shoreline.  

You'll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can experience in this small Michigan State Park, from windsurfing, beachcombing, and berry picking to rockhounding and hiking along four miles of scenic trails!

Waterloo Recreation Area

Michigan's largest park in the Lower Peninsula may not seem like your ideal hidden gem. However, what makes this park a pure treasure is that it's located just one hour from Detroit but will have you feeling like you're vacationing "Up North."  

Enjoy exploring 11 different lakes, superb hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, beaches, and more! Plus, you'll have plenty of options for overnight stays—including cabins, campsites, and even yurts

Harrisville State Park

One of the oldest Michigan State Parks, Harrisville State Park, preserves a short stretch of Lake Huron's sandy shoreline, along with rustic pine and cedar groves. Spend the day relaxing on the beach or head out for a kayaking adventure. 

Although the tranquil scenery of this state park will make you feel like you are far from civilization, you'll actually be close to several popular east Michigan attractions—including the charming town of Harrisville, Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, and Negwegon State Park. 

Port Crescent State Park

On the very tip of Michigan's "thumb" that jets out into Lake Huron sits Port Crescent State Park. Home to three miles of sandy shoreline along the second largest of the Great Lakes, this park is unique because it exists as a dark-sky preserve.  

You'll be distanced from the artificial light and unruly noise of cities, giving you the chance to leave the stressors of modern-day life behind. Enjoy hiking and kayaking the shoreline to view the iconic Turnip Rock by day and experience the exceptional stargazing displays by night!

Peaceful Michigan State Park Getaways Await!

Hidden gems like these Michigan State Parks are rare and valuable—each offering something unique to be treasured. What better way to preserve your serene experiences in the great outdoors than to record them in a Michigan State Parks Bucket Journal?  

Walk away with new insights or simply hone your skills as a keen nature observer by jotting down what you see, hear, smell, and feel while exploring these and many other hidden gems!  

Which of these Michigan State Parks will you be visiting in the near future?

tents in the foreground with the sunrise coming over the hills. Text overlay says Looking for a peaceful retreat? 7 Michigan State Parks that are genuine hidden gems






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