There are only a couple of state parks in Michigan that have full hookup and sites that are big enough for our camper. One of them is Hartwick Pines State Park, just north of Grayling, MI. We’ve been wanting to try out this park, and it’s close to one of our favorite lakes, so we made plans with our friends to spend Labor Day weekend up there.
We got a fairly early start on Friday, and managed to dodge the rainstorms all the way up north. It was in the 90s at home, and a relatively cool 80 degrees when we arrived at the park.
We quickly got set up on our site,
and Tari & Jensen joined us in making a fire so we could have pizza pies for dinner. The kids set up the cornhole boards, and spent plenty of time practicing for the big tournament on Sunday.
Not an “official” tournament, just our own personal tournament . . .
Casey found a comfy spot to rest and spectate from!
In addition to all that cornhole, we also tried out one of the mountain bike trails in the park. The trail was nice and wide, one way, and just had a few steep, sandy climbs that proved to be too much for the old folks – and even some of the young folks!
The bike trail took us to the logging camp and museum.
We saw how the loggers used to live in the logging camp – the kitchen where their meals were cooked,
where they slept and even what they wore to keep warm in the northern Michigan winters!
We also saw the tools that the loggers used to move the logs down to the river. Since much of the work was done in the winter, the equipment was all equipped with sled runners.
With the invention of the “Big Wheel”, loggers were finally able to move logs without the aid of snow.
Nick & Bryce pose in front of the Big Wheel – my Mom has pictures of me in front of this very same wheel!
From the logging camp, we walked the nature trail through the “Old Growth Forest” to the Visitor Center.
These tall white pines create the “canopy” that characterize the old growth forest.
As we walked, we came upon “The Monarch”,
the most famous tree in Hartwick Pines. It was once the tallest, oldest, and largest circumference tree in Michigan, but it was damaged by storms several years ago and is now missing its crown. Over 325 years old, the tree is now dead, and will one day fall down. For safety reasons, “tree-hugging” is no longer allowed, so the kids had to just stand in front of the once-great tree.
Further along the trail, we came to the Chapel in the Pines.
This chapel was built in 1953, and dedicated to a Founder and 1st President of the Kiwanis Organization.
The large, cross-shaped window in the chapel is its only source of light, and makes for a spectacular sight.
after our walk through the woods, we got back on the bikes and rode back to the campground – on the pavement this time! It was a great day, with perfect weather for bike-riding!
We also spent a day on Higgins Lake, but that day gets a post all of its own!