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Michigan State Parks

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USA Parks
Northeast Region
Houghton Lake State Forest
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50 sites for tent or small trailer use some of which will accommodate 40-ft vehicle/trailer. Located on the north shore of Houghton Lake with excellent boating and fishing. Rustic campground includes vault toilets and potable water from well hand pump. Sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations. Check with State Forest Campground Manager for seasonal availability.
History of the Area
Houghton Lake State Forest, located in Roscommon County, Michigan, has a rich history dating back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, particularly the Ojibwe (or Chippewa) people, who used the land for hunting, fishing, and gathering.

In the 19th century, European settlers arrived in the region and began logging activities, clearing large areas of the forest. By the mid-20th century, the state government recognized the need for conservation and established the state forest system.

Houghton Lake State Forest was designated as a state forest in the early 1930s, encompassing approximately 14,000 acres. The primary purpose of establishing state forests was to conserve natural resources, promote sustainable forestry practices, and provide public recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, and camping.

The state forest has been managed to balance these goals. Timber harvesting is carefully conducted to maintain a healthy ecosystem, while recreational facilities and trails are developed to accommodate visitors' needs.

Houghton Lake State Forest is situated near the shores of Houghton Lake, the largest inland lake in Michigan. The lake's popularity for boating, fishing, and other water activities has further contributed to the significance of the surrounding state forest.

Houghton Lake State Forest continues to be an important recreational area in Michigan, attracting visitors from around the state and beyond. The forest's diverse natural features, including forests, wetlands, and wildlife habitats, provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers to explore and enjoy the great outdoors.
The Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forest campgrounds and state trail parking lots. Details and information on how to obtain your Michigan Recreation Passport can be found by visiting the MICHIGAN RECREATION PASSPORT web page.
1. Houghton Lake State Forest Campground: This campground offers 19 sites for tent and small trailer use, all of which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

2. Reedsburg Dam State Forest Campground: Located within the forest area itself, this campsite has rustic camping facilities with vault toilets and potable water from well hand pumps.

3. Backus Creek State Forest Campgrounds: It provides 24 campsites that can accommodate tents or trailers up to 40 feet in length along with fire rings at each site.

4. Cut River Bridge State Roadside Park & Picnic Area: Although not technically a campground it does offer picnic tables and grills making it suitable for day trips or short overnight stays if you're self:contained (no amenities).

5. Twin Lakes state park: Offers modern camping on beautiful inland lakes with fishing opportunities.

6. Hilltop Family Camping Resort: A private resort located near Houghton lake offering full hook:up RV spots as well as cabin rentals.

7. Camp CoBeAc: Another privately:owned option just south of Prudenville; they have cabins plus spaces for both RVs/tents but also require adherence to Christian values/practices during your stay there.

Nearby Vacation Rentals
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Houghton Lake (on site): Pike, Panfish, Bass, and Walleye.

Muskegon River (2 miles West): Panfish, Bass, and Pike.

Higgins Lake (6 miles North): Splake, Trout, Panfish, Bass, and Pike.

Houghton Lake State Forest is located near Gladwin, Harrison

1. Deadman's Hill Loop: This 3-mile loop trail is moderately trafficked and offers a range of activities from hiking, bird watching to snowshoeing in winters.

2. Jordan River Pathway: A challenging two-day hike covering approximately 18 miles through the scenic landscapes with overnight camping options at Pinney Bridge Campground.

3. High Country Pathway: An extensive multi-use trail spanning over 80 miles that takes hikers through diverse terrains including forests, wetlands, riversides and meadows offering an immersive wilderness experience.

4. North Central State Trail (NCST): Stretching for about 62-miles between Gaylord and Mackinaw City; this flat rail-trail provides opportunities for biking as well as walking or running amidst beautiful natural surroundings.

5. Manistee River Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail Loop - Houghton Lake Segment: Approximately a moderate level difficulty stretch of around nine mile long which includes river crossings via suspension bridges along with panoramic views throughout its course.

6. Cut River Trails System: Comprising several loops ranging from easy to difficult levels suitable both beginners & experienced hikers alike featuring dense forest coverings, wildlife sightings etc.

7. Mason Tract Pathway: It's primarily used by anglers but also has trails stretching up to ten plus miles passing alongside Au Sable river providing serene environment perfect for peaceful hikes.

8. Wakeley Lake Foot Travel Area: With roughly seven-and-a-half mile round trip journey it features largest body water within Huron-Manistee national Forests area making ideal spot fishing enthusiasts who can enjoy their hobby while trekking across these paths.

9. Hanson Hills Recreation Area Red/Blue/Green Loops: These are three separate color-coded routes varying lengths/difficulties located near Grayling city where visitors get chance explore different parts park depending upon time availability / physical fitness condition they have.

10. Beaver Creek Trail: A short yet beautiful trail of about 2.5 miles, perfect for a quick and easy hike amidst the lush greenery.

11. Roscommon Red Pine Natural Area Pathway: This is an approximately two-mile loop that takes hikers through old-growth red pine forest with interpretive signs explaining various natural features along the way.

12. Lost Twin Lakes Pathway: It's around three mile long pathway offering scenic views over twin lakes & surrounding wilderness area making it popular choice among nature lovers / photographers alike.

13. Grayling Bicycle Turnpike: Although primarily designed cyclists, this paved route stretching from Hartwick Pines State Park to city center can also be used by pedestrians who wish enjoy leisurely walk or run across its course.

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Area Campgrounds
Countryside Campground
805 Byfield Drive
Harrison, MI
Downhours Shady Acres Campground
7785 Jacks Rd.
Harrison, MI
Downhours Shady Acres Campground
7785 Jacks Rd.
Harrison, MI
Houghton Lake Travel Park
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Houghton Lake, MI
West Houghton Lake Campground
9371 West Houghton Lake Drive
Houghton Lake, MI
Wooded Acres Family Campground Inc.
997 Federal Avenue
Houghton Lake, MI
River Valley RV Park
2165 South Bailey Lake Avenue
Gladwin, MI
Sugar Springs Campground
1440 West Sugar River Road
Gladwin, MI
Harrison RV Family Campground
1820 Hampton Road
Harrison, MI

6 miles NW of Houghton Lake Heights via West Shore Drive.

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Michigan State Parks