Kayak Camping on Power and Basset Islands – Traverse City, Michigan

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Kayak Camping at Basset Island in West Grand Traverse Bay – September 24 & 25, 2011


Most of the drive up to Traverse City on Saturday morning was dry and sunny. Unfortunately by the time we arrived at Bowers Harbor and began loading up our kayaks it started to drizzle. We shoved off from the boat launch and pointed our kayaks into a 10 to 15 knot wind blowing rain and 1 to 3 foot waves into our face. The 2.5 mile crossing to the campsites on Basset Island took a little over 1.5 hrs for us to complete because of the weather. Basset Island is a small 2 acre island that is connected to Power Island by a low rocky strait that is about 150 yards long.

For more information on this paddle trip see route #39 in the: Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Superior and Michigan: The Best Day Trips and Tours


As we neared Power Island the rain stopped and the lee of island gave us some relief from the wind and waves.


Arriving at the Basset Island campsites.


The Basset Island Campground has 5 rustic sites, each with a picnic table and fire pit. The sites are first come, first serve. Site #1, shown above, is a smaller site with a nice view of the water. We stayed at sites 2 and 3 which had plenty of room for the 5 of us. Most of the available information states that a campsite can be reserved for $10 a night. However, when we called we found out that the new rate for non-county residents is actually $38 a night. A little expensive for a primitive site, but it was worth it for at least one night.


The only other facilities on Basset Island are 2 pit toilets near the campground. You need to filter water from the lake or walk a little over a half mile to the hand pump at the day use area on Power Island. We found that our filtered lake water was much better tasting than the cloudy water from the pump.


After setting up camp we went for a walk around Power Island.


The beach area on Power Island. It sounds like this is a busy place in the summer, but in late September we had the whole place to ourselves.


Power Island is about 1 mile long and just over a 1/2 mile wide at the middle. There are 5 miles of hiking trails crossing the island. The trails are fairly well marked and have enough elevation gain to make for some interesting hiking.


The island also has a healthy deer population. We kicked up a doe and 2 fawns on our walk.


By the time we finished hiking around the island the sky cleared and the sun came out. We decided to get back into the kayaks and circumnavigate the islands.


After a somewhat miserable crossing earlier in the day, we had almost perfect conditions for a late afternoon paddle. Warm sun and flat crystal clear water.


Paddling along the west shore we saw a Bald Eagle fly over and land on the island. Too bad I couldn’t get the camera out quick enough for a shot.


Rounding the north side of Basset Island. Our campsite was just around the corner.


Around dinner time the ranger that lives in the cabin on Power Island came over with a load of fire wood for us. Paying $6 is better than trying to gather wood over on Power Island and carrying it back.


The perfect end to the day. Looking west from the isthmus between the islands.


In the morning we woke up to the sound of wind as waves. As our luck would have it, the wind had now turned around and was coming from the east. After a quick breakfast we loaded up our kayaks and pointed them toward Bowers Harbor. The wind made us work on the first half of the crossing, but as we got closer to shore the Old Mission Peninsula it gave us some protection.


At least it was sunny for the return trip.


Nearing Bowers Harbor and the end of the trip.


More Information:

Grand Traverse County Parks Page of Power Island – Basset Island

Basset Island Campsite Reservations

See route #39 in the: Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Superior and Michigan: The Best Day Trips and Tours




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