Muskegon State Park – Channel Campground

Muskegon State Park – Spring camping in the Channel Campgrounds – May 4 to 6, 2012


For our first camping trip of 2012 we decided to do a short weekend stay at Muskegon State Park. We had not been to this park in a number of years and this was our first overnight stay here. We usually tend to overlook Muskegon State Park as we drive further north to camp. The park really does have a lot to offer with 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan Beach and about 2 more miles of frontage along Muskegon Lake and the Navigational Channel. The park covers 1,200 acres and has 12 miles of hiking trails to help you explore the forests and sand dunes.

Unfortunately for us the weekend forecast for sunny and 70 degree weather was a little off. As you will see in our photos below, the sun went away just as we pulled in Friday night and we didn’t see it again for the rest of the weekend. It ended being mostly cloudy with occasional showers and temps in the 50s with cool east wind. Because of the weather we didn’t get a chance to see as much of the park as we had planned.


Muskegon State Park has 247 modern campsites slit between the Lake Michigan and Channel Campgrounds. We stayed in site 34 in the channel campground. It was a sandy site with a pad just wide enough for a camper. The back of our site bordered the navigational channel between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.

The Channel campground is divided into 2 loops. The sites in loop 1 are all fairly close together like many other Michigan State Park Campgrounds. The best sites in the first loop are the ones that back up to the channel. Loop 2 is on the shore of Muskegon Lake and the sites seemed to have a little more space between them.


The Channel Campground is an older facility and the roads and camper pads are starting to show some wear, but it is still a nice place to stay. Each loop has a small older style bathhouse that probably get very busy when the campground fills up during the summer months. We didn’t have a problem as there were only about 10 other sites occupied during our stay.


All that is left in the playground is four swings. The girls still had fun baking “sandy bread” in the “swinging fire oven.”


Time lapse video of us setting up our campsite and eating dinner.  Sorry about the quality this was our first attempt at this kind of video.


After setting up camp and eating dinner we went for a walk along the Muskegon channel. The State Park has a nice side walk along the channel from Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan. From the campground to the end is almost 3/4 of a mile.


On the South side of the Muskegon channel is the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum. The above photo is of the Coast Guard Cutter McLane. According to the museum wesite McLane is “a rare prohibition era vessel which served from 1927 until 1968.”


Tied up next to the McLane is the star of the museum the USS Silversides. The USS Silversides is World War II submarine that was commissioned just a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served until 1946.


Near the end of the channel walk is the Muskegon channel lighthouse.


The only way we could get Ried to stay sitting with us by the campfire was to play his favorite videos.


After breakfast on Saturday morning it started to rain. We decided to take a drive north on Scenic Drive up to Whitehall Michigan. We stopped at the White River Light Station Museum, but is was still closed for the season. After this stop we headed into town and waited out the rain at the Pizza Hut.


When the rain stopped in the afternoon we visited the Muskegon State Park Blockhouse. It too was still closed for the season, so we went for a short hike on the trails near the blockhouse and found the “blockhouse” geocache.


Since there was no sunset to photograph I tried some long exposures of the channel lighthouse with my ND filter.


At the end of the Muskegon channel there 2 more outside breakwalls. If you cut over on the beach it is about another 1/2 mile walk to the end of the outer breakwall for a total trip from the campground of 1.25 miles.


Reesey still insists on wearing a skirt even when camping.


The channel lights for our campsite.


Sunday morning was still cloudy and cool. The kids enjoyed watching and waving to the passengers on the Lake Express ferry when it passed behind our campsite.


Ried gets his first injury of the 2012 camping season running around the campground with his sisters.


Before packing up we went for a hike on the Devil’s Kitchen trail. The trail is about 1 mile long and goes from the end of loop 2 in the Channel Campground to the Snug Harbor day use area. The rumor is that when the weather conditions are just right the wind will blow into the end of Snug Harbor and the steep dunes surrounding it will cause a fog to swirl up and out giving it the name.


The first half of the trail is a nice walk along the shore of Muskegon Lake.


The girls couldn’t resist running down the dunes along the Devil’s Kitchen trail by Muskegon Lake.


At about the half way point the trail turns inland and you begin climbing the steep ridge that surrounds the end of Snug Harbor.


The top of the ridge was shaded by large hemlock trees.


Looking down to Snug Harbor from the Devil’s Kitchen trail.

For more information on hiking in Muskegon State Park pick up a copy of: 50 Hikes in Michigan





After our hike we ate a quick lunch and then packed up camp and headed home. Even with the bad weather we had a great time at Muskegon State Park and will definitely be staying here again.



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