Michigan State Parks Centennial: Otsego Lake

Otsego Lake State Park is a small park on a big lake. Otsego is the perfect park for those who love the water because it is located on the shore of, what else — Otsego Lake.

At 5 miles long and almost 2,000 acres, the lake is surrounded by the state park, as well as hundreds of private residences and commercial businesses. This makes it an extremely popular and busy lake for swimming, fishing, boating, tubing, jet skiing, kayaking, and more. 

Otsego Lake State Park was founded in 1920, making it one of the oldest state parks. It’s relatively small at only 62 acres and includes a campground, beach, and boat launch. 

Campground

The campground is split into two loops with 155 sites total. The North Loop is larger and sits up on a hill overlooking the lake through the trees. The South Loop is smaller, with a few of the sites right near the lake. None of the sites provide direct lake or beach access. 

Most of the sites are flat and sandy, with lots of mature trees. These trees provide a lot of shade, but because they are tall there is little privacy between sites. In terms of site size, there was a variety of large and small sites to accommodate all different types and lengths of RVs. As of June 2019, the park had not yet been upgraded in terms of electricity, so you are still looking at 30 amps max.

Beach areas

The park technically has three beach areas – two for humans and one for dogs. The main beach is easily accessible from the day-use parking lot. Since it appeared to be the nicest, it’s a safe bet that many of the campground guests use it, as well. Alongside the beach is a small wooded area with picnic tables, grills and a short, paved walking path. 

Located near the main beach is an outside shower to rinse off, and a bathhouse with changing stalls. Connected to the bathhouse is a camp store. The vendor told us he hopes to eventually provide all sorts of items such as ice cream, pizza and watercraft rentals in the future. 

A smaller beach is located below the north campground and is reached via a handicap-accessible ramp. A Mobi-wheelchair is available for guests who want to get out in the sand. Given the higher water levels, there wasn’t as much sand at this beach, and it was quite a bit shadier.

The dog beach is, well, not really a beach. It’s located at the very far end of the North Campground and down a fairly steep set of steps which end abruptly in the water. There’s no place for the owners to stand except on the steps. This may be in small part due to the higher water levels, but even then it doesn’t appear there would be much dry land. I really get the impression this “beach” is for those dogs who just love to jump and swim in the water. 

Other activities

If you’re into getting some exercise, the new Iron Belle Trail runs right past the entrance of Otsego Lake State Park. It’s a paved path for biking, walking or running. 

If you have kids, there aren’t a lot of amenities specifically for them. A swing set, old slide, basketball hoop, and a few frisbee golf holes are about it. But it seems to be a family friendly park and we did see a lot of kids riding bikes and playing at the beach. 

If you’re into fishing or boating, a fishing pier is accessible from the path near the beach. Or you can use the boat launch from the parking lot. 

Overall impression

Otsego Lake State Park might be small, but it’s the perfect weekend getaway. It may not offer all the hiking trails or nature centers the larger parks have, but the beach and the lake make it the perfect place to soak up the sun during the day and relax by a campfire at night.  

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We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. (We have a video about Otsego Lake 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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