On The Road – tom – Wilderness State Park, Michigan


In mid-October I hiked for a couple of days in Wilderness State Park, which is in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula on the shores of Lake Michigan, between Mackinaw City and Petoskey. It’s a good-sized park of over 10,000 acres (16 square miles, 4100 hectares), with numerous hiking trails, campsites, and 26 miles of beach along the lake. Wilderness State Park is not as picturesque as the Porcupine Mountains, the subject of my previous OTR, but very scenic in its own right and well worth a visit.

Nearby is a county park called Headlands Dark Sky Park, where light pollution is deliberately kept at a minimum so visitors can see the Milky Way and the stars in the heavens in all their glory. When I was there, the sky was clear but the moon almost full, and its brightness washed out almost everything except Venus and a few other bright stars.

I stayed at a motel in Mackinaw City, which sits in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge. Being the jumping-off point for Mackinac Island, Mac City is a 5 square mile tourist trap, with more hotels, motels, B&Bs, fudge makers, pastie bakers, and Up North kitsch vendors than should be legally allowed. Like gendered German nouns, there is no rational way to know whether “Mackinac” is spelled with a “c” or a “w”, you just have to know it. Non-Michiganders should note that it’s pronounced “Mack-in-aw” no matter how it’s spelled.

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