Sleeping Bear Dunes, Charlevoix & Manistee Michigan

Early Summer Camping Trip 2011 – June 19-26, 2011


For our June camping trip this year we first went to the Platte River Campgrounds in Sleeping Bear Dunes, then to Fisherman’s Island State Park in Charlevoix and lastly, Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee. The weather was not great. We had sun on Saturday when we got up to the Platte River, but then it stayed mostly cloudy with just a few breaks of hazy sunshine for the rest of the week. It rained quite a bit off and on the whole week, but mostly at night. Wednesday night a steady rain started that lasted most of the day Thursday. It finally cleared up on Friday night and was nice on Saturday and Sunday when it was time to head home. Because of the rainy weather we left Charlevoix a day early and made an unscheduled stop at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City for a night.


On the way up to Sleeping Bear Dunes we stopped for lunch at the Cherry Hut in Beulah. We had always wanted to stop, but the timing never worked out before. The food was pretty good and we thought the famous cherry pie was very good. Although we do not eat much cherry pie so we do have not had much to compare it to.

The Platte River Campground – Sleeping Bear Dunes


At the Platte River Campground we stay at site #318. The trailer pad was a little shorter than some, but it had double width which was nice especially when it rained. It was close to the bath house which could be reached by a trail in the back of the site. The fire pit was set down from the camper which made the site feel pretty secluded. This is still one of our favorite campgrounds in the state.


After setting up camp we went down to the beach at the mouth of the Platte River. The girls had a great time floating in their tubes out to the river mouth. Little did we know…we would not have another beach day until the next Saturday.


The next morning we decided to try something new so we hiked the Old Treat Farm trail. It is an unmarked trail that goes to an abandon farm and then to a bluff named Old Baldy that overlooks Lake Michigan. It is a 1/2 mile hike through the woods to the farm and then about another 1/2 mile across the field and to the top of the bluff.


The trail on top of Old Baldy. You can see the Treat Farm barns in the background. The trail to the top was pretty steep and Regan got a little worried because she could tell that mom was not too happy about taking Reid up it.


The trail to the top was pretty steep and Regan got a little worried because she could tell that mom was worried- it was kind of a hard trail! Behind us you can just see Platte Point.


“New Baldy” happy to be on the top of “Old Baldy”


Later we went to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and continued our tradition of taking the kids pictures by the number that is their age. Reese at 4.


Regan at 7.


The deck at the Lake Michigan overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.


The girls at the Lake Michigan Overlook.


We didn’t have very good weather for scenery shots most of the week.


On Monday we took the tandem kayak down the Crystal River for the first time. It was an easy paddle down a nice little river. The water was warm and clear. We were glad that we brought our bug spray for the upper portion.


The banks along the upper half of the river were lined with over hanging trees most of the way.


“Shooting the Tube” on the Crystal River. About half way through the trip there is a culvert under County Road 675 that is big enough for a kayak or canoe. It is fast and fun ride on an otherwise calm paddle.


After paddling it was time to stretch our legs on the dune climb.


The view of Glen Lake from the top of the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb.


Reid showing off his first tooth.


After practicing by the campfire for a couple nights Reesey learned to tie her own shoes.


We told the girls we would give them $20 if they caught a chipmunk. It kept them busy for 2 days trying to catch one with their nets. Then Regan had an idea and caught 3 in about an hour. It cost us $20, but watching them and keeping them entertained was worth it.


On our last day at Sleeping Bear Dunes we made our annual hike to the top of the Empire Bluffs. It was nice to see that all of the leaves were back again this year after being almost completely eaten by the caterpillars last spring.


Regan is still sad that the “fork tree” was knocked down a couple years ago. At least there were not any tears this time.


Resting at the top of the Empire Bluff Trail. Not only was there clouds and fog, the biting flies made us cut our rest short.


No visit to Sleeping Bear is complete without a stop at Boonedocks in Glen Arbor for dinner on the deck.

Fisherman’s Island State Park in Charlevoix, MI:


n Wednesday morning it was off to Fisherman’s Island State Park in Charlevoix. We stayed at site 35 which was a big pull through site right on Lake Michigan. There was a sandy strip of beach, but we never made it into the water mostly because of the cool weather, bugs and rocks and weeds in the way. All of the sites on the water were full, but the rest of the campground was empty. It looks nice, but Regan called it ‘The stinky fish place.”


Right after we had camp set up a small thunderstorm blew in and we had to hideout in the trailer for a couple hours. When the storm passed it actually got sunny so we decided to walk around downtown Charlevoix. We ended up eating dinner at Whitney’s Oyster Bar. We had nice table on the second floor that overlooked the street. The food and service were both very good, we will definitely go back for some more of the whitefish.


Playing in the fountain in downtown Charlevoix.


After dinner we went down to the beach area and the girls played on the swings.


After a short time at the beach we could see dark clouds coming in from the southwest so decided to head back before the rain started again.


It rained all night and it was still raining in the morning. We drove into town to do some laundry and get some tasty Mc Breakfast. The forecast was for rain the rest of the day so at breakfast we decided to leave early and make an unscheduled stop at The Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City.


The girls were given wolf ears with their dinner and of course sleeping in the wolf den was a big hit.


Great wolf is even fun for least for a half hour or so.

Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee, MI:


After hitting the water park for a couple more hours in the morning it was off to our final stop at Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee.


At Orchard Beach State Park we stayed at site 65. It was a pretty big site with a small playground behind us that had a couple swings, a slide and a new sand box. Even though it was small the girls thought it was “awesome.” Next to us we had a new camper cabin that looked really nice and an old pump house that was still in use.


The skies finally cleared Friday night and when we woke up Saturday it was sunny. After lunch we took the river walk from town to the end of the south pier. We only saw only a few other people along the walk and if it wasn’t for the fishing tournament going on at the pavilion at the beach it would have been almost deserted. Maybe since it was the weekend before the 4th everyone was staying home.


The Manistee Pier head light at the end of the river walk.


Big prop next to the pavilion.


After our walk we drove over to the other side of the channel and went to relax on the 5th Avenue Beach. It was a nice beach with a new bathhouse and not very busy other than a big group of seagulls near the pier. After the beach we had pizza and our last campfire. After breakfast Sunday morning we were ready to head home.


– The End –



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