Young State Park – Boyne City, Michigan

Camping at Young State Park in Boyne City, Michigan. – May 25 to 28, 2012


This year for the long Memorial Day weekend we drove a little further North than we normally do up to Young State Park in Boyne City, Michigan. We camped here back when Regan was just 1 year old so after 7 years it was time visit this nice area again.

You may notice that we started adding more videos from this trip. Just before we left, we got a new Kodak PlaySport (Zx5) HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera. We found it for under $50 on Amazon. It also can take 5 Mp still photos and so far we have been very happy with it.


This is how we roll. We got an early start on Friday morning and made a pit stop in Reed City for a treat that we only get when we are traveling, some McDonalds breakfast. This has always been one of our favorite stops when heading north this because it is a couple hours from our house and the McDonalds has a big parking lot next to it for trucks and RVs.

Camping at Young State Park:


At Young State Park we stayed at site 106 in the Spruce Campground. The other 2 campgrounds in the park had some nice waterfront sites, but this was probably the best site in the Spruce loops. It was a huge pull thru site that spanned the entire inside corner of a loop. All the other loops had 2 sites in the same space. The rest of the site were all smaller and close together in the typical state park fashion.


Across the road in front of our campsite was path through a row of cedar trees that led to low dune and then to a nice beach area on Lake Charlevoix.


Reid decided to walk over and checkout the bathhouse. We spent most of the weekend chasing him around the campground.


The girls thought the best part about our site was the playground that was just behind the camper cabin across from us.


The other favorite was the camp store that was also just a short walk from our site. The store had a few grocery staples, camping supplies and of course plenty of toys. Every night there was a steady stream of campers walking back past our site with ice cream from the store.


…this is what happens when you let them go to the camp store alone.


Right behind the camp store was a fishing pond. To bad we forgot to take or poles, but with the number of lines that were in the water here on most days there can’t be many fish left in this little pond.


An attempt at time lapse video of us setting up camp at Young State Park.


After setting up camp and eating lunch we went to checkout the beach on Lake Charlevoix. The breeze made it a little too cool to swim so we made sand castles and flew the kite.


The breeze ended up being a to strong for our kite. A short time after this picture a strong gust ripped the string from Reesey’s hands and we watched the kite blow away over the trees. We chased after it to no avail. The $2 kite was never seen again.

Young State Park Map – If the map does not show up above click here

Climbing Avalanche Mountain in Boyne City, Michigan:


After losing the kite we drove to Boyne City and visited the Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area.

Find Avalanche Park on Google Maps >>


Happy to be riding up Avalanche Mountain.


The highlight of Avalanche Park is Avalanche Mountain. According to the brochure it takes 462 steps to reach the top.


Resting and taking in the view of Lake Charlevoix and Boyne City.


An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was also taking a rest at the top.


The Avalanche Preserve is over 300 acres with hiking and mountain biking trails for spring, summer and fall. Winter activities in the park include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and sledding.


Taking what we thought would be the easy way down.

Click here to download: The Avalanche Preserve Brochure and Map>>

Find more on Avalanche Preserve in: Best Hikes with Children in Michigan


The Apline Chocolat Haus in town was selling ice cream cones for $0.50 to raise money for the local little league team, so we had to make a stop here before heading back to the campsite.


The sunset over Lake Charlevoix from the beach at Young State Park.

Hiking the White Birch Nature Trail at Young State Park:


The next morning we decided to go for a short hike. The White Birch trail in Young State Park is a nice easy 1.5 mile loop that is just the right for kids. The trail starts near the mini cabin in the Terrace Campground. The first half of the trail runs through a predominately Cedar and Balsam Fir forest. We were glad that we hiked this section before it rained. There were several muddy areas where as you can see in the photo above logs where laid down to help keep your feet clean and dry. The girls liked walking over all the logs and roots on the trail.


Near the beginning of the trail. Regan couldn’t stand still for a picture.


At the half way point the trail begins to parallel the shore of Lake Charlevoix.


An open area along Lake Charlevoix.


Heading back into the forest near the end of the trail. Click here: to download the Young State Park Hiking Trail Map>>


Stopping to look for a geocache on the way back to our campsite.

The Mountain Bike Trail at Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area:


During nap time in the afternoon I went back to Avalanche Preserve to ride the mountain bike trail. This 5 mile loop is a fun and challenging ride. I am not sure why it is not more popular. I was the only one riding it on a nice Saturday afternoon over a holiday weekend. The trail is all hard packed single track with plenty of climbs and fast descents. Near the end of the trail you are even treated to one of the best overlooks in the lower peninsula of Michigan. The older gentleman that I met at the top, told me it was in the top 10 in the world. I am not so sure about that, but it is probably in the top 10 in Michigan.

Riding the Trail: From East end of the parking lot look for the bike sign on the trail heading up into the woods. The first mile or so of the trail here is hard to follow at times because it crosses several other paths. Just try to stay on the narrow single track and you will be fine. The rest is easy to follow and is a fast and fun ride. Near the end of the trail you breakout of the woods on the top of Avalanche Mountain. By this time in the ride you have earned a short rest, so stop and take in the view. From here make sure you have a fresh set of brake pads on your bike because that last section is steep and all down hill. To pick up the trail again ride up past the upper observation deck and follow the sandy single track to the right. In just a few brake squeezing minutes you are back down in the parking area. Less advanced riders will want to definitely walk this section.

Avalanche Park Trailhead on Google Maps >>



For our one time eating out on this trip we thought Mexican sounded good so went downtown Boyne City to the Red Mesa Grill. Usually when we are in the Traverse City or Petoskey area we try to go to one of the La Senorita restaurants. After our first time at the Red Mesa we may have a new favorite. The food and even the chips and salsa were all really good and had great flavor. The service was also excellent. We had 2 people other than our waitress stop by our table to welcome us and check that everything was okay. Really our only complaint was that the margaritas could have been a little bigger…but isn’t this always true!


Waiting in front of the Red Mesa.

For the Red Mesa Grill menu and locations click here>>


After dinner we walked to Veteran’s Memorial Park and let the kids burn off some energy on the massive wooden play structure.


Reid practicing his letters. To him they are all either R E I or D.


Just after eating breakfast the next morning it started to rain. With no signs of the rain letting up after waiting it out in the trailer for a couple hours we decided to just go for a drive. Our first stop was at the Horton Bay General Store. Unfortunately the store was closed because of a funeral in the family. It is said that author Ernest Hemingway spent summers in this area as a boy and this store is a place he would often be found. We will have to try again the next time we are in this area.


Our next stop was Charlevoix. We pulled into the beach area just as the Beaver Island ferry was making it’s way into the Charlevoix harbor. After driving around Charlevoix and Fisherman’s Island State Park the rain finally started to let up. We started heading back to our campsite on M66 along the south side of Lake Charlevoix.

The Ironton Cable Ferry:


The last interesting stop on our drive was taking the Ironton Cable Ferry across the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix. The Ferry is located just off M-66 in the small village of Ironton, Michigan. According to this historic ferry has been in operation since 1876 and was originally operated by hand. The current diesel power version was built in 1926.

The fares are $3.25 per car, $0.50 for walkers and $1.00 for bikers. The ferry typically is open from mid-April to mid-November.

One other interesting note is that the former ferry captain is in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for traveling over 15,000 miles and never being more than a 1/4 mile from his nearby home.

Find the Ironton Ferry on Google Maps>>


When we got back to the campsite it looked like the rain was done so we carried all of our kayaks down to the beach. Just when we thinking about getting ready to go one last rain shower came over and delayed our paddling until after dinner.

Kayaking Lake Charlevoix along Young State Park:


After dinner the sun came out and it ended up being the perfect night to paddle along shore of Young State Park.


There were a lot of firsts for us in this paddle trip. This was the first time since Reid was born that we had our whole family out on the water in our kayaks. Regan is now in her own single kayak and this was her first time paddling on her own. It was Reesey’s first time paddling in the front seat of the tandem. Reid rode in the middle seat of the tandem for his first ever kayak trip. We were surprised that it all went quite well!


Mom happy to have some alone time in her own kayak.


Someone was made an interesting forest of dead cedar trees stuck upside down in the sand along the shore of the State Park.


Reid was getting tired near the end, but still had to help paddle.


Almost back to the beach.


Reid telling about his first time in the kayak.


The perfect end to a not so perfect day.

Kayaking at Fisherman’s Island State Park – Charlevoix, Michigan


Memorial Day morning I woke up early and drove to Fisherman’s Island State Park for an early morning paddle. The sun couldn’t quite break through the clouds, but It was a nice morning with calm water and light winds. I planned to paddle out and around Fisherman’s Island when we camped here last spring, but it rained the whole time. As you can see from the photo above it is only an island when lake levels are much higher than the are right now.


Looking North along the beach from where I launched at Fisherman’s Island State Park . The carry from the parking lot at the end of the road to the water is pretty short, but the black flies and mosquito’s made it unpleasant. Remember to bring the bug spray.


As I approached Fisherman’s Island I saw a bald eagle perched on top of one of the trees. I tried to slowly move in close for in picture, but he took off before I could get a good shot.


Rounding the rocky west side of Fisherman’s Island.


The south shore of Fisherman’s island.


Looking back toward Fisherman’s Island. A trip from the launch at the end of the park road out and around Fisherman’s Island and back is an easy 3 miles round trip paddle. I continued further south along the shore for about a 6 mile outing.

Fisherman’s Island State protects almost 6 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan Shoreline. The park is split in half by a large section of private homes that spans almost 1.5 miles. If you put in Bells Bay at the access at the end of the road just before turning into the park the paddle around Fisherman’s Island would be 4 miles for an 8 mile round trip. Continuing South from the island past the private land to the south end of the park is another 3.5 miles.

Google Map of Fisherman’s Island State Park >>


After Kayaking it was time to pack up and head for home.

-The End-



Our Favorites:

Kelty Child Frame Carrier

If you are going to be outside hiking with children under 3 years old a good backpack carrier is a must.  We started with a cheap off brand carrier, but quickly realized we needed to upgrade to the Kelty.  The adjustable hip belt on the Kelty was the only one we found that was long enough for taller people.  The integrated sun shade and side screen also helps keep the bugs off your little hiker.

Search for Kelty Child Carriers on Amazon >>

Advertising Disclosure: We may receive a commission if you click a link on our site and purchase one of the products or services that we recommend.

Leave a Reply