Sunday, July 25, 2010

Road Trip: Day 6; Hiking trails at the Great River Bluffs State Park, Minnesota

There is just one word to use when describing the hiking trails that I will always remember when I think back about Minnesota; mosquitoes! The swarms of mosquitoes along the hiking trails were the worst that I have ever experienced in my life. We had planned on spending the morning hiking on the 7+ miles of trails throughout the park before finishing off our weeklong road trip and heading back to Denver, but the bugs put a halt in those plans. We woke up at 7am and I was ready to check out the bluffs and Mississippi River Valley. The park provides a well marked trail system with maps at the ranger station and several maps along the trails.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Road Trip Day 5; Great River Bluffs State Park and Campground on the Mississippi River, MN

It was day number 5 of our camping trip through northern Michigan, but that meant it was time to start driving west and head for home. We had one more night to camp somewhere and chose to camp along the Mississippi River in Minnesota at the Great River Bluffs State Park. This park was about 8 hours from our campsite in the Upper Peninsula, but due to the time change, we gained an hour of daylight making it to the campground at 6:30pm on Friday night.
The ranger was very pleasant and allowed us to drive through the campground before paying to choose our site and make sure this was where we wanted to stay.   I wish she would have mentioned the mosquitoes, however, and little did we know that our great campsite was going to turn into a painful experience. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Road Trip Day 4; Fayette State Park, UP, Michigan.

We had planned on staying at the JW Wells State Park camground along the peninsula near the Wisconsin border.  Fortunately, we had the foresight to call the campground, something we never do, and found out it was closed until July 11th, 2010, due to flooding.  This put a wrench in our plans and we decided at the last minute to drive to Fayette State Park, it was 20 miles out of our way along a peninsula past the tiny town of Garden, Michigan.  
We had checked out Indian Lake State Park Campground on our way which was very crowded; and we chose Fayette SP on a whim; boy we were glad we did!  The State Park is located next to an old iron smelting town of Fayette which is now deserted.  The Michigan Parks System cleaned up the area in 2006 and now it is part of the historic state park and campground.  The huge buildings next to Lake Michigan near the cliffs are a photographers dream and I snapped numerous shots which still didn’t capture its true beauty.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Road Trip Day 4; Switchback Ridge Scenic Foot Trail, Brevort Michigan, Upper Peninsula

I was eager to get some hiking in this day because we were on a beautiful lake, with dunes and forest all around us. Fortunately, the campground we happened upon also had a great hiking trail called the Switchback Ridge Scenic Foot Trail. This trail continued for at least 5 miles around Little Brevort Lake. We hiked 1.2 miles from our campground to the South Unit campground, which was closed down, on the other side of Little Brevort Lake and then back following the same trail. Along the way we hiked in thick, wet, forests, sunny sand dunes and up and down hills through the woods.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Road Trip Day 3; Little Brevoort Lake Campground, North Unit, Brevort Michigan, Upper Peninsula.

Night three of our camping road trip was spent west of St. Ignace about 20 miles outside of the small 'town' of Brevort on Little Brevoort Lake.  The campground is a primitive, self check-in campground in a dense pine forest beside Brevoort Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest. 
It was Wednesday evening and the campground had only 4 other occupants when we drove in at 8pm; we picked out a site far from the other campers with views of Little Brevoort Lake through the trees. The campground cost just $15 and offers a boat launch which attracts people for its fishing, pit toilets, nature watching, fresh water and a trailhead for hiking and biking. Even though we did not swim, the water was warm and fairly sandy near the picnic area; had it been a warmer day and there were less bugs, we would have jumped right in! Site numbers 9, 10, 11 have the best views of the lake, with some sites viewing the lake through the trees. All of the sites offer ample privacy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Road Trip; Day 1-2, Muskegon State Park, Michigan, hiking trails

Muskegon State park was our first stop in our weeklong road trip and it offered the best sandy beaches and most hiking trails that we came across on our journey. Muskegon State Park is located on the beach of Lake Michigan just west of Muskegon and it offers over 14 miles of trails to hike. The entrance fee to use the park for the day and to hike is $6, or you can buy an annual pass for $24 Request a map of trails when paying for your pass and choose your pleasure, hiking through the woods, in the sand on the dunes or along the lakeshore. One of the trails even leads to a lookout point above a scenic lake.

Getting there; from Muskegon Michigan head north to North Muskegon along Lakeshore Drive to the park. Or use the address to find your personal directions: 3560 Memorial Drive, North Muskegon, 49445. Click here for park website or here for additional map information.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Road Trip Day 1-2; Muskegon State Park, Lake Michigan Campground, MI

My husband Josh and I, with our two dogs, drove home to Michigan for my one-and-only sister’s wedding over the 4th of July weekend; then after the festivities ended for the weekend with one family they began with another. Josh’s family was camping at Muskegon State Park which is in the western part of the state, on Lake Michigan. This started our weeklong camping trip and we left the family behind after Muskegon to head north through the Upper Peninsula camping for two nights, then through Wisconsin into Minnesota to camp on the Mississippi River before heading back home to Golden, Colorado.