Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
Yes
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Wilderness State Park is located just west of Mackinaw City at the "tip of the mitten." The park's 10,500 acres including 26 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline and offer a huge variety of year-round activities. 

Due to the park's popularity, the 250 modern campsites, six rustic cabins (open year round), and three rustic bunkhouses in the campground are often reserved well in advance during the popular summer months. Reservations are available and encouraged. There are two main campgrounds, Lakeshore and Pines. The Lakeshore Campground puts visitors right near the beach in a congested yet beautiful setting. The sites closest to the main road offer some protection from the wind and sun with tall pine trees interspersed. Both the middle isle and beachside locations are quite exposed to the elements. The second main campground, Pines, is located a quarter-mile to the beach. This tightly spaced campground has paved parking slots and is more suitable for those with RVs or trailers. Both the Lakeshore and Pines campground sites offer electrical hookups at each parking slot. The campgrounds offer running water and flush toilets. There is a modern dump station within the park.

Other lodging options include the six rustic cabins that have bunkbeds for sleeping four to eight people. Each cabin has a wood-burning stove with precut wood available. A well hand-pump is available for potable water. Additionally, there are tent-only rustic walk-in sites that offer a bit more space than the organized modern campgrounds. Finally, there are numerous rustic backcountry campgrounds, and the backcountry Nebo Cabin is available; all require a permit for overnight use.  

With so much lakeshore, its obvious that the number one activity is relaxing on the beach, but the park has so much more to offer. There are 38-miles of well marked hiking trails, many of which are old forest service roads. Mountain biking is allowed on all trails that were originally forest roads, and there is just over 10 miles of nontechnical riding. The standard mountain biking loop is an 8-mile ride combining Old East Boundary, Old South Boundary and Sturgeon Bay Trails with a portion of the park road. Mountain bikers are not allowed on Red Pine Trail, Big Stone Creek Trail, Hemlock Trail or portions of the North Country Trail. The trails can be combined to create scenic loops through old-growth forests and marsh lands crisscrossing this low lying peninsula. In spring and after heavy rain, the trails through the low lying areas can be flooded. Ask a ranger prior to departure about current conditions. During the summer months, expect swarms of mosquitos and black flys.

Using the park's boat launch, visitors can tour the coastline and surrounding islands. For the anglers, Sturgeons Bay has been pitted from years of shelling practice and is home to some of Lake Michigan's best bass fishing.  

Bring your camera and binoculars. Wilderness State Park contains a diverse population of local and migratory birds. Keep an eye out for the endangered piping plover. The shoreline and forest are home to abundant wildflowers and tall grasses. The park is also host to bigger game, including black bears, beavers, bobcats, mink, muskrats, and otters. Rumors even exist of wolves moving back into the area near Waugoshance Point. The park is open to small and large game hunting in the fall and winter.  

Beginning December 1, the park empties out but remains open for the most hearty. The rustic cabins represent the only lodging within the park boundaries. The backcountry Nebo Cabin can still be reached with a 2-mile ski or snowshoe trek from the park road. Cross-country skiers can enjoy 6 miles of groomed trails during the winter along a loop that follows Nebo, Old South Boundary, and Swamp Line trails for a secluded but relatively flat and easy route. 

In the surrounding area there are four lighthouses to visit including Grays Reef, Skillagalee Island, Waugoshance, and White Shoal. Mackinaw City offers visitors modern amenities and access via ferry boat to the popular tourist location Mackinac Island.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Diversity of activities.

Cons

Bugs and crowds in summer.

Features

Vault toilet
General store
Boat ramp(s)
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Amphitheater
Shelters
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Dump stations
Picnic tables
Near lake or river
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Potable water
Old-growth forest
Tide pools
Fishing
Bicycling
Playground
Covered picnic areas

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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