I am leaving Boston for good. After more then 10 years of back and forth, this city is no longer my “home”. My job has always been remote even before covid. But even more so now that all my co-workers no longer question the nomadic nature of my lifestyle. So I am going west and will try to make a new home in Colorado this time. On the way west, I stopped at my moms in Michigan and drop Tony at a truck garage and made serious maintenance. In order to do a test drive before the 2000km to Denver, I decided to drive north for a weekend to Machinaw city where I heard there was a Dark Sky Park.
The Wilderness State Park Peninsula.
45°45’49.248″ N 85°0’20.016″ W
The drive from Detroit is approximately 4h on the highway 75 where the speed limit is 75mph. Tony was purring like an old tiger with his new gaskets, hoses and tires. I spent 2500$ on my machine which you can consider like a rent. Over the 7 years I owned him (or he owned me), I probably spent something like 15-20k total (including 3k on a new transmission). Honestly not too bad overall. It turned out it was a long weekend with Juneteenth so I was not the only happy camper. I stayed one night in Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground and one more night in the Wilderness campground where I booked the very last spot.
The entire area is truly beautiful with crustal waters and sandy beaches. All the prime campsites on the beaches were taken and I would recommend to book in advance if you are capable to do so. I am always looking for wild camping spots but for this time I decided to go simple and join the masses considering the short amount of time I had. You will need a “Recreation Passport” for Wilderness (11$ one time fee for 24h) but not for Mackinaw Campground. Bugs were absolutely insane when you are close to the water just so you know. You may not want to yawn too long or you will get free meal.
I am sharing the maps of both campgrounds:
I camp in the G area in Mackinaw. Very close to the kids playground and the facilities. I would recommend camping in the wooded area at the entrance (roads 22-23) if you are looking for quite, bugs and kids free areas. You can always go to the beach later.
I camped in the Pines area which felt a bit like the less “fancy” part of Wilderness. I would recommend the western most side of the west area if you can plan your life better then me.
The state began acquiring the park’s lands in 1896 through purchase and tax reversion proceedings. After the reversion of additional acreage for tax nonpayment in the early years of the twentieth century, the site became the Emmet State Game Refuge in 1922, with the land set aside for the breeding of game birds and other animals. When the game reserve was placed under the administration of the Parks Division in 1927, it officially became Wilderness State Park.
The purpose of that trip was to go check out the Dark Sky Park that is close to the wilderness state park. Being a space geek myself, it was interesting to bring some blankets and lay down on the grass to gaze at the starts with other space enthusiasts. The summer days being pretty long, to get a good experience you should wait for at least midnight to reach real darkness. People with telescopes will happily let you take a peak at the celestial objects they are pointing at while making questionable geek jokes (it’s not about the size of the telescope! but it is). The park is open all night long which made me realize you can definitely camp in the parking lot if you need to.
The area has a decent amount of trails and I was looking for something wooded and relatively easy to not force too much on my middle-age knee in recovery. So I found the Nebo trail, flat and easy, it also joins more trails and you can do a full loop back to the wilderness campground. I later took the ebike on that same trailed and completed it in 20m instead of 2h.