2617251019948 Candid Camping: Hartwick Pines State Park Grayling, Michigan - Believe in the Basics
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Candid Camping: Hartwick Pines State Park Grayling, Michigan

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Candid Camping

Hartwick Pines State Park

First, I just want say thanks for stopping in and reading about our camping trip to Hartwick Pines State Park. Continue reading to hear about all about our trip! As always, Happy Camping!

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The Campground

Hartwick Pines in a beautiful campground. Each campsite is paved and wooded. We camped on site 64, it was right next to the bathroom and close to the entrance of the campground. Our site was not a full hook-up (not a big deal for us!), but full hook-ups sites are available.

Campground Amenities

  • Boat Launch
  • Cabins & Lodges
  • Fishing Pier
  • Modern Restrooms
  • Picnic Area: Located near the old growth forest, this area has grills, tables, a modern bathroom facility and drinking fountains.
  • Picnic Shelter: Shelters can be reserved up to one year in advance by calling 1-800-447-2757 or visiting www.midnrreservations.com.
  • Playground
  • Visitor Center: Michigan Forest Visitor Center programs, exhibits and displays tell the story of our state's forests. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Labor Day through Memorial Day excluding the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

About the Amenities

The restrooms and showers were clean and modern. The playground was nice. Actually, it was much nicer than some of the other state campgrounds that we have visited. In addition, the main hiking trails are paved and are easy to walk. Furthermore, if you like hiking this is the campground you will want to visit. The downside, this campground lacks a place to swim. My kids love to swim and this was a bummer for them!

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The old growth forest foot trail is a beautiful walk; the untouched forest reminds you of Michigan’s past before the logging era. In addition, nestled in the old growth forest was a chapel. The chapel was built in the 1950’s and is a perfect addition to the park. The chapel hosts many weddings. As a matter of fact, we had the pleasure of seeing a wedding ceremony on our hike!

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Some History and Information about the Park

Hartwick Pines is one of the largest state parks in the Lower Peninsula consisting of 9,672 acres. This park overlooks the valley of the East Branch of the AuSable River, four small lakes and timber lands. The main feature of this park is the 49-acre forest of old growth pines. The forest is a reminder of Michigan's past importance in the pine lumber industry. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. year round.

The Story Behind Hartwick Pines

In 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick purchased over 8,000 acres of land, which included 85 acres of old growth white pine, from the Salling-Hanson Company of Grayling. Mrs. Hartwick was a daughter of Nels Michelson, a founding partner of the Salling-Hanson logging company. A short while later, Mrs. Hartwick donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial park to be named for her husband, the late Major Edward E. Hartwick of Grayling. Edward Hartwick had died overseas during World War I. Also wishing to commemorate the logging history of the region and of her family, Karen Hartwick requested that the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum be built in the park.

In November of 1940, a fierce wind storm struck the area of the park and removed nearly half of the old growth pine. Today, only 49 of the original 85 acres remain standing.

Hartwick Pines Logging Museum

Hartwick Pines Logging Museum depicts the state's 19th-century logging era, when Michigan led the nation in sawed lumber production. The Logging Museum is located along the Old Growth Forest Foot Trail, a quarter mile walk from the Visitor Center. The Museum is open daily from May 1 through October 31. May 1 through May 27 and September 7 to October 31, the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There hours are extended in the summer. From May 28 through September 6, the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On the day we visited the logging museum my kids had the opportunity to play with some of the toys the children played with during logging era.

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Park Location

Hartwick Pines is located in Crawford County, northeast of Grayling on M-93, Exit 259 off I-75.

Grayling Area Attractions

Local Lakes for Swimming

  • Lake Margrethe- This lake has a small beach, but the swimming area is great for small children, it is very shallow and provides a safe place for the little one to play and swim. It is pet friendly. And, if you are a state park passport holder then there is no additional cost.
  • Lake Kneff- I do not recommend this one! First, the beach was small and so was the lake. And second, pets are not allowed on the beach. Since, this is a national forest lake, it costs $5 per day.

Other events that were going on during our stay

  • The Traveling Vietnam Wall 
  • Ausable River Festival- Canoe races
  • Historic Cannon Firing 
  • Meet the Artists Day
  • Summer Concerts, Wellington Farms

Overall, we had a great trip. This campground is one of the best we have visited, minus the swimming. However, we did have a few issues trying to find some of the area attractions, as a number of them were not well advertised. With this in mind, I would say, if you are going to visit Grayling, Michigan, get a good local map or get directions from the locals!

Have you ever been to Hartwick Pines? What did you think? What were some of the highlights of you trip? Was this post Helpful?

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