Hartwick Pines State Park

In my final part of my Houghton Lake series, I talk about a time when men were men.  This was the kind of time when men had beards and handle-bar mustaches that could shame any defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings.  One of the best natural treasures near Houghton Lake is Hartwick Pines State Park.  If you are looking to get away from the lake for a little while, this is an easy day trip up in Grayling, Michigan. 

The park has nearly 10,000 acres and is one of the largest in the Lower Peninsula.  It’s a gorgeous state park that gets you into the woods and away from civilization.  There are miles of hiking trails (including handicap accessible ones), abundance of wildlife, and plenty of educational opportunities.  To see the old-growth forests is a rare opportunity. 

On top of the hill is the center with the bathrooms, gift shop, bird viewing areas, and logging history.  The logging camp is a fun way to see how the loggers lived and worked in one of Michigan’s oldest industries.  The buildings have a variety of memorabilia and interactive materials.  

Another path from the logging camp will take you to the chapel.  While the interior is simple and dark, the exterior looks like it should capture a spot on the cover of National Geographic.  Definitely worth the hike. 

The park is open throughout the year and is a great piece of Michigan history and culture.  You can find more information about events and specifics on the DNR’s website located here.  If you are looking for a way to get the kids outside and exhaust their energy, Hartwick Pines is a great place for that.  There is also plenty of canopy shade for those summer days.  So instead of sawing logs on the beach, go check out where they are grown.