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  1. #1
    Senior Member jerrduford's Avatar
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    Good Public Camp Sites in Michigan near Roads/Trails

    Hello All,
    The wife and I are in search of a campground in Michigan (preferably within an hour or two of Grand Rapids as we have just a weekend) with easy access to some nearby scenic routes or trails.
    We'll be going with one other couple who is also getting into road cycling, and we were originally considering Silver Lake area, but I've come to discover this place is really meant for those with boats or Jeeps/Buggies. We're mostly looking for a good area with either a lengthy dedicated paved bike trail, or some scenic country roads that are bike-friendly (decent shoulders or low traffic). Public beaches are a plus as it's warming up!

    We will be driving there and bringing the bikes with - Tent camping. Cost isn't a major factor - Just someplace within reasonable distance as we'll be working Friday, Checking in, and Checking out Sunday. We don't get many opportunities to go during the summer so we like to make sure we choose the right place!

    Does anyone have any suggestions or fun stories?!

  2. #2
    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/#list

    Do you want rustic or don't mind RV neighbors? It's a huge difference. The best state parks are probably reserved already for the summer.

    You have so many great destinations nearby, Leelanau, Petoskey/Harbor Springs, South Haven, Grand Haven, Sleeping Bear, Grand Traverse Bay. Scenic wonders, water, mild summer temps, and quaint villages.
    Last edited by oddjob2; 06-14-15 at 06:31 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Sorry I don't know of anything off hand but maybe the Cadillac area? The White Pine Trail begins (ends) in Cadillac and ends (begins) in Comstock Park. Check out the link as this may help you figure out trails at least. White Pine Trail State Park | Michigan Trails | TrailLink.com

  4. #4
    jwa
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    Of course, "near Grand Rapids" and "scenic routes" are rather mutually exclusive, unless you really like farmland...

    Without knowing what your group is up for mileage-wise, etc, I'd consider one of my kids' favorites in their pre- and teen-years: camp at John Gurney Park in Hart, ride the Hart-Montague Trail on Sat (22-ish miles each direction, lots of snack/minor sight-seeing stops along the way, hang out in Montague/Whitehall for lunch before returning) and Sun do the short road ride to the Lake Mich dunes (maybe 8 miles W of Hart). Bring a cable lock & lock the bikes to a tree & enter the Silver Lake dunes pirate style, or go a mile or 2 north to Cedar Point County Park.

    If your group is more experienced, Yankee Springs Recreation Area (or rustic camping at the Yankee Springs Deep Lake unit) down near Middleville offers the options of lots of hiking trails, with (what I think, at least, is) much prettier road-riding scenery than just open cornfields. Similarly, there are several state forest campgrounds up in the Baldwin area where I often camp overnight & road-ride during the day - PM me if you'd like to discuss routes in these areas....

  5. #5
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    If you stay at Petoskey State Park you have the very scenic Little Traverse Wheelway right at your tent flap. You just cant find a better area to camp and ride. You can ride around to Charlevoix or head north to Harbor Springs for a more challenging ride to Cross Village on Lakeshore dr's Tunnel of Trees.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member jerrduford's Avatar
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    I apologize for the late reply, I wasn't getting email updates and life got just a little bit too busy.

    Petoskey state park sounds great. We've been out to the Traverse area quite a bit (and we try to go to Torch lake at least once a year), but hadn't ever stayed there.
    Great idea for Cadillac as well. We ride the White pine all the time from Grand Rapids/Comstock Park area out to where it turns into Limestone in Sand lake. It'd be interesting to camp on the other end.

    Thanks for all of the advice. I'll be jotting these down in my notes and hopefully checking these places out this summer as time is available as well!

    I've ended up going with 'Lucky Lake Campground' in Montague. In my search near Silver Lake, all of the campgrounds seemed overly strict (and had reviews confirming), but that may be due to the types of crowds that end up there. Lucky Lake is right near the Electric Forrest Festival, which, we unfortunately we aren't going to but happened to 'choose' the same weekend for us to all be available, so we will have the concert very near us... but the campsite looks amazing - Being right on the private Lake, and just a few miles from the Hart-Montague trail, which none of us have ever been on! If we had enough time (it's just a weekend and we'll end up getting there relatively late on Friday) We'd bring the kayaks too... But I think there will already be plenty to do.

    I appreciate all the input!

  7. #7
    Senior Member jerrduford's Avatar
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    I'd like to update for anyone that is still following..

    Lucky Lake in Rothbury was AWESOME! Although, I wish I had gone during a weekend that wasn't electric forest (a major dubstep/rock concert - 50,000+ people in the woods for the entire weekend). I stayed in a campsite very close to the event (it was actually the 'VIP zone' for concert ticket holders, but they let us in at the regular rate). Having our campsite be pretty secluded yet right on their private lake was pretty awesome. We blew up our Sea Eagle kayak and left it tied up most of the time that we weren't using it, that was nice. The fishing was excellent, for me anyways - 18 inch bass after bass.

    We loved the hart-montague trail. There was an entrypoint with parking just a few miles from the campsite (probably just over a mile, but we had to drive through the event traffic). We went south on it about 20 miles and came back. Would have gone much further if one of our guests wasn't struggling beyond 10 miles. I really wanted to make a second trip and go northbound from Rothbury, but we were pretty well whooped the following day, having biked, kayaked, fished, grilled, swam, and ran all in one day.

    All in all a great experience and I can't wait to go again. I may have to check out some of the campsites recommended too. Now the real difficulty is getting everyone time off work... but that's another story.

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    Senior Member FBOATSB's Avatar
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    I've camped many places in Michigan but by far the best was Michigamme Shores Campground. It's in the U.P. Michigamme Shores Campground I couldn't go in the tent to sleep, wanting to watch the northern lights all night!

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