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Michigan State Parks

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USA Parks
Northwest Region
Kalkaska State Forest
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13 sites for tent and small trailer use. Located on Pickerel lake providing boating and good pan fishing. Off-Road Vehicle Trail nearby. Rustic campground includes vault toilets and potable water from well hand pump. Barrier-free sites and toilets available. Sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations. Check with State Forest Campground Manager for seasonal availability.
History of the Area
The Kalkaska State Forest is a public forest located in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, USA. It covers an area of approximately 101,000 acres and is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The forest spans across both Kalkaska County and Crawford County.

The history of the Kalkaska State Forest traces back to the early 20th century when the area suffered from extensive deforestation due to logging. The logging industry heavily exploited the region's vast reserves of white pine, which were highly valued for their timber. As a result, large tracts of land were left barren, lacking trees and vulnerable to soil erosion.

To address this issue, the state of Michigan began purchasing land in the region in the 1920s. An important figure in the early development of the Kalkaska State Forest was William A. Hitt, a state conservationist who played a crucial role in acquiring and establishing forest areas in Michigan. Hitt envisioned the acquisition and reforestation of lands to restore the ecological balance and bring economic benefits to the state.

In the following years, the Forest Management Act of 1927 was enacted, providing the framework for sustainable management practices in the Kalkaska State Forest and other state forests in Michigan. The DNR was tasked with developing the forest through reforestation efforts, timber harvesting, and conservation activities.

Since its establishment, the Kalkaska State Forest has been utilized for various purposes, including sustainable timber production, wildlife habitat conservation, and outdoor recreation. The forest offers diverse recreational opportunities, such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

The DNR has continued its reforestation efforts to restore the forest's natural beauty and ecological balance by planting various tree species, including white pine, red pine, black cherry, aspen, and oak. These initiatives have helped in the regeneration of the forest and have created habitats for a variety of wildlife.

The Kalkaska State Forest is a valuable natural resource and an important recreational destination for residents and visitors. Its rich history of logging and subsequent restoration efforts make it a unique and significant part of Michigan's forest ecosystem.
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. Kalkaska RV Park & Campground: This campground offers full hook-up sites, tent camping areas and cabin rentals. Amenities include a playground, picnic tables, fire rings and restrooms.

2. Rapid River Group Campsites: These rustic campsites are located within the state forest itself along the banks of the Rapid River.

3. Guernsey Lake State Forest Campground: Located in South Boardman just outside of Kalkaska County but still inside Michigan's beautiful forests with 39 campsite spots available for tents or small trailers.

4. Manistee River Bridge State Forest Campgrounds: A bit further out from central Kalkaska county but worth it if you're looking to be near water bodies as this is situated right on Manistee river offering great fishing opportunities.

5. Sharon's Roadside Family Restaurant: Although not exactly a traditional campground they offer overnight parking spaces where people can park their camper vans/RVs making it an interesting option especially given its proximity to many local attractions like lakes etc.

6. Log Lake County Park: It has over 40 acres including Log lake which provides swimming,fishing,picnicking facilities apart from regular camping amenities.

7. Kingston Plains dispersed Camping area: For those who prefer more primitive style backcountry type experience,this could be ideal.Its free,no reservations required however no services provided either so one needs to come prepared accordingly.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
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Pickerel Lake (on site): Bluegill, Bass, Pike.

Big Twin Lake (1 miles North): Bluegill, Trout, Bass.

Manistee Lake (4 miles SW): Bass, Perch, Walleye, Bluegill.

1. North Country Trail: This is the longest trail in Kalkaska State Forest, spanning about 4,600 miles across seven states from New York to North Dakota. The Michigan section of this trail offers scenic views and challenging terrains for experienced hikers.

2. Shore-to-Shore Trail: A long-distance equestrian hiking path that stretches approximately 220 miles between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan through the forest area offering a unique blend of woodland scenery with occasional wildlife sightings.

3. Sand Lakes Quiet Area Trails: These trails are located within an undisturbed natural environment featuring several small lakes surrounded by hills covered with hardwood trees making it perfect for peaceful hikes or bird watching activities.

4. Guernsey Lake Loop Pathway: An easy looped pathway around Guernsey lake providing beautiful water vistas along its course which can be completed in less than two hours at a leisurely pace.

5. Manistee River Valley Hiking Route: Known as one of Northern Lower Peninsula's most popular backpacking routes due to its diverse landscape including rolling sand dunes, lush forests and river valleys teeming with local flora & fauna species.

6. Blue Bear ORV/ATV East-West Connector Routes: Although primarily designed for off-road vehicles (ORVs) these paths also offer great opportunities for adventurous trekkers looking forward to exploring remote sections within Kalkaska state forest region on foot while enjoying panoramic wilderness landscapes throughout their journey.

7. Kettle Hole Nature Interpretive Walk: It's more like an educational hike where visitors get chance learn about glacial formations such as kettle holes via interpretative signage installed alongside well-maintained walking tracks amidst serene surroundings.

8. Rapid River Ski/Hike/Mountain Bike Paths: Multi-purpose pathways suitable not only during summer months but winter season too when they transform into cross-country skiing courses besides being used regularly by mountain bikers year-round.

9. Bear Den Educational Forest Trail: This is a short, self-guided trail that provides information about the forest's ecosystem and wildlife. It's an ideal choice for families with kids or novice hikers.

10. Spring Brook Pathway: A moderately challenging 5-mile loop through mixed hardwoods and conifers featuring several small bridges crossing over babbling brooks along its course offering picturesque views especially during spring season when wildflowers are in full bloom.

11. Kalkaska County Log Lake Park Trails: Situated within close proximity to Kalkaska town these trails offer easy access & convenient parking facilities besides providing varied hiking options around beautiful Log lake area including both shorter loops as well longer routes suitable according individual preferences of visitors.

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Higgins Lake KOA
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13.5 miles NE of Kalkaska via County Road 612 and Sunset Trail Road.

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Michigan State Parks