Michigan State Parks: Cheboygan

Ari and Jessi in front of the Cheboygan State Park sign

Cheboygan State Park is a beautiful, quiet and low-key state park located near the tip of northern Michigan on Lake Huron, just 20 miles southeast of Mackinac City.

It is conveniently located a few miles east of I-75 near the town of Cheboygan, making it easily accessible for travelers.

Map showing the location of Cheboygan State Park

Created in 1930, Cheboygan State Park sits on a little jut of land that helps form Duncan Bay. At just over 1,200 acres, the park’s day-use and campground areas face Duncan Bay, while its three cabins face Lake Huron. See here for a map of the park.

On a clear day, you can look across the bay and see the Mackinac Bridge.

To the north of the park out in Lake Huron sits Bois Blanc Island (pronounced Bah Blow for you non-Michiganders). From the shore, you can watch the large Great Lakes freighters passing by, as well as view two modern lighthouses.

A picture of a freighter and a lighthouse in Lake Huron

Day-use area

The day-use area of the park has a beach, a small picnic area and a few pieces of older playground equipment. A bathhouse is available for changing and bathroom facilities.

Jessi standing on what was the beach at Cheboygan State Park during record-high lake levels.

Duncan Bay is shallower and warmer than Lake Huron, making it ideal for swimming and splashing around for the younger campers.

When the water levels aren’t at record levels, a wide sandy beach at the day-use area provides plenty of space for kids to play and adults to sunbathe. (During 2019, the beach was fairly nonexistent, but the water remained very shallow and warm.)

Trails in Cheboygan State Park

A small trail system is available at Cheboygan State Park. The yellow trail is a loop near the campground, while the red, blue, black and green take you from the campground to the cabins and along the Lake Huron shoreline. (As of summer 2019, the Green Trail which normally runs along the shoreline was underwater.)

The five trails are maybe 6 miles total in length and run through a variety of marshland and woods. Be sure to have your bug spray and long pants as the mosquitoes and black flies will want to eat you. Bikes are allowed on the trails, as well as snowshoes or cross-country skis in the winter.

Along the trail sits the ruins of the old Cheboygan Point Lighthouse. According to the park’s website: “Visitors will find the foundation remains of this once-operating lighthouse. In 1851, the Cheboygan Point Light was originally built on a pier in Lake Huron, but due to rough water and winter ice, it only lasted a few years. In 1859, it was rebuilt on the shore and was in operation until 1930 by the United States Lighthouse Service. It was at this time that the lighthouse and surrounding properties were transferred to the State of Michigan for public park use.”

Old lighthouse ruins
Old lighthouse ruins

Camping at Cheboygan State Park

Cheboygan State Park has a variety of camping options for visitors. This includes a traditional modern campground, three mini cabins, two teepees, and a modern lodge.

The campground is very lovely and perfect for a secluded quiet getaway. It is one of the quietest campgrounds we’ve ever stayed in. All campers were extremely polite and courteous and there was no loud music, children, dogs or generators running.

Campground at Cheboygan State Park
The campground at Cheboygan State Park

One of the reasons for it being so quiet is a) there are only 76 sites, and b) only 20-amp service. That means that many of the larger trailers and motorhomes are unable to run all of their large appliances. We noticed that was reflected in the smaller trailers tents that people were camping in.

A bonus to the campground is that the majority of the sites are pretty private, as the trees and foliage have grown between the sites blocking the view from your neighbors.

While the bathroom facilities are on the smaller and older side, the showers were hot and clean. Two each are available for men and women, but since the campground is small, there is rarely a wait.

A carry-in boat launch at the campground provides direct access to Duncan Bay. The park supplies a few kayaks you can use if you don’t have your own.

Mini Cabins

One of the rustic mini cabins at Cheboygan State Park
14′ Shoals Cabin

Three rustic mini cabins are available on the park’s northern edge with views of Lake Huron. This is the perfect place to make a cup of coffee and watch freighters or other boats go by, or grab a blanket and stargaze at night. Bring your binoculars or telephoto lens for a close-up view of the Mackinac Bridge.

The cabins are very private and secluded in the woods, only accessible by vehicles via a dirt road behind a locked gate. Note, the trails do run by the cabins, so other visitors may wander by occasionally on their way to the lighthouse ruins or to check out the views.

Reservations for the cabins open a year in advance and according to the park supervisor they get booked up fast and are filled almost every weekend year-round. While the campground is closed in the winter, the cabins remain open.

Cabin amenities include bunk beds, wood stove, outdoor grill, water pump, outhouse, picnic table, and fire ring. Plan to bring all of your bedding, cooking equipment, and food.

Inside of the mini cabin showing bunkbeds and dining table

Overall impressions of Cheboygan State Park

Cheboygan State Park is a perfect getaway for campers who are looking for a restful and quiet experience. Spend a weekend or a week to relax, kayak Duncan Bay in the summer, snowshoe the park in the winter, or hang out by the fire no matter the season.

If you feel like being touristy, it’s less than 30 minutes to Mackinaw City for shopping or to hop on the ferry for the trip to Mackinac Island.

Cheboygan State Park is a great gem in Michigan’s state park system.

We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. (We have a video about Cheboygan State Park here.) You can follow us on Instagram, our Facebook page, and Twitter. Plus, you can see our progress as we visit each park on this interactive Google Map. You also can keep track of our activities on social media with the hashtags #hikecampgo and #mistateparks100.

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