Sleepy Hollow State Park is the closest state park to our house, only 18 miles away. Yet, until two or three years ago I don’t think I’d ever been there. Now that we’ve discovered all it has to offer we go there quite frequently. While I don’t think it’s my favorite, it’s definitely the perfect family park.
Sleepy Hollow is located about 30 minutes north of Michigan’s capital city, near the town of Laingsburg, Michigan. The park opened in 1976 and encompasses more than 2,600 acres. Unlike most state parks that are built around natural features, Sleepy Hollow was built from scratch. It was created as part of a state project to “offer central Michigan residents outdoor and water-based recreation in the lake-less region.” This entailed buying up homesteads and farmland, clearing and grading the land, building a dam, and creating a man-made lake. When it came time to name the park, all the local villages wanted it to be named for them. In the end, they named it in honor of local resident I.B. Crane, as a nod to the fictional character in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Today, Sleepy Hollow offers a multitude of year-round activities. In the summer you can swim, fish or boat in Lake Ovid (note: it is a no-wake lake). You can play on the sandy beach, enjoy a picnic, or have a family reunion at one of the pavilions. There is even a disc golf course.
The park includes 16 miles of hiking and biking trails and 12 miles of equestrian trails. Some of the trails are multi-use, so you’ll need to be mindful of your surroundings and right of way. Last summer while training for a marathon, we visited Sleepy Hollow a couple times just so I could train on the trails. I even participated in an annual running of “The Legend” half-marathon race held in early August. (A fun low-key race if you’re into that type of thing!)
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One of our favorite summer activities at the park is kayaking. At 410 acres, Lake Ovid is perfect for a few hours of floating around, watching for wildlife, getting a tan, and enjoying nature.
In the winter, the park remains open for activities such as hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and even snowmobiling if conditions are right. We happened to visit on one of the coldest and windiest days of the year (at that point — it got worse!). But that didn’t stop us or the other hardy souls we encountered – including a group of around 15 folks riding their fat-tire bikes across the frozen lake!
Sleepy Hollow does have a campground, open from April to October. It offers paved sites, a modern bathhouse, and a playground. The sites vary in size and level of privacy. There are a few open sites next to each other that are great for groups, and others tucked away behind vegetation for a more private experience. The major thing to note is that up to four campsites share one electric pole – and it’s usually located far away from the paved pad – so you’ll need an extension cord. We also recommend a surge protector since you’ll be sharing the pole with your neighbors. The beach is about a 5- to 10-minute walk from the campground, depending on which site you choose.
If you don’t have a tent or RV, there are two cabins available to rent — one modern with indoor plumbing, the other rustic with outdoor facilities. These are open year-round, and in fact, we saw people staying in them during our recent visit.
As I said, I think Sleepy Hollow is the perfect family park. With something for everyone, it is a great place to go for a day, a weekend, or even a week.
There are plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. (We have a video about Sleepy Hollow State Park published there.) 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.