Hartwick Pines State Park – Grayling, Michigan
Spend some time at the largest state park in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. Here you will be able to see the largest stand of virgin white pines remaining in the Lower Peninsula.
There is a Forest Visitor Center where you can learn about Michigan’s forests through exhibits which focus on the history of logging, forestry, and the numerous ways the trees harvested are used in our daily lives. This center is also the main interpretive center for the 3.9 million acre state forest system managed by the DNR, the largest state forest system in the United States.
You can also visit the Logging Museum buildings where you are taken back to life in the 1880′s and explore the history of the white pine logging era. At the time when most of Michigan’s northern lower peninsula was covered with the majestic trees. The forest has northern hardwood forests such as beech and maple, jack pine and oak trees. The lowland conifer forests cedar, spruce, and tamarack.
There are several small lakes and the East Brach of the Au Sable River and its associated streams and wetland in the park which make hiking even more exciting with many different environments to experience.
The Old Growth Forest has trees that were saved from the lumberman’s axe. Some of the trees are dying now because of their age but they still offer shelter to woodpeckers, chipmunks, woodland mice, bats, salamanders and of course those wonderful insects! Of course the insects are food for the other inhabitants to they need to exist too.
The Red and Black squirrels are a common site in the park as they scurry around being ever so busy. There are also white-tail deer, bobcats, coyotes and black bear in the park.
There are areas of the park that are open to public hunting. You must contact the Michigan Department of Natural resources for affected seasons and locations.
The restrooms at the park are located at the Michigan Forest Visitor Center, the campgrounds, the day use/picnic area and at the Logging Museum.
There are three trails for cross country skiing totaling 15 1/2 miles with some being easy and others being more challenging. These trails are also open to mountain biking in the spring, summer and fall.
There is a boat ramp for public use at Bright and Glory Lakes so bring your boat and enjoy the waterways at the park.
If you are planning to fish at the park you can probably catch blue gill, panfish, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout.
From Grayling, drive north on I-75 to Exit 259. Head northbound on M-93 and proceed about 2 miles and look for the park entrance sign on the left side of the road.
Ownership: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Hartwick Pines State Park headquarters, (989) 348-7068.
Size: 9,672 acres