The state of Michigan may be known as the Great Lakes State, but it is also home to over 100 parks and nature preserves. While you may be more familiar with the larger national parks of Michigan, there are plenty of other parks that are worth checking out. Here are five awesome hidden gems in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
1. Oak Park: Grand Ledge, MI
This is the park for which Grand Ledge received its name. Its 20-30 foot tall rock cliff is ideal for climbers and repellers galore! It’s situated right on the Grand River which also makes it a great location for fishing. Not to mention it makes for a fun afternoon of hiking and exploring! To get to the cliff, make your way across the grassy area towards the wooden fence. From there, make your way to the farthest ends of the park (left or right side) and there will be stairs leading you to the foot of the ledge.
2. Holly Recreation Area: Holly, MI
Holly Recreation Area is an area of almost 8,000 acres filled with hardy trees, grassy fields, and many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. You can spend a whole day taking on their disc golf course, hiking or biking the trails, swimming, fishing, and ending with a quiet canoe through the lake. They also offer hunting and a large camp ground with more secluded sites for those campers who enjoy being surrounded by nature. Holly Recreation Area is a state-run park and requires a Recreation Passport for entry. Click here for more information on the Michigan Recreation Passport.
3. For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum: Burton, MI
If you want to learn about Michigan’s nature, this is the place to do it! The For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum is 383 acres of Michigan flora and fauna. Like a living museum, the Arboretum flaunts one of Michigan’s best collections of rare trees. For-Mar offers a wide selection of educational programs, and offers naturalist-led hikes through the park. You are also welcome to tackle the trails on your own to discover some exciting sights such as the Observation Tower and the beautiful bridges that cross over Kearsley Creek.
4. Genesee Recreation Area: Flint, MI
This large expanse of green outside of Flint is a great getaway from the city life. Genesee Recreation Area has a multitude of attractions within to fill up a whole day! The Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad takes you back in time to an authentic Great Lakes town with historic buildings, a functioning Opera House and working craftspeople on site. On the southeast side of the park, discover the Stepping Stone Falls- a large concrete sculpture which artfully guides the flowing river down a series of cascading waterfalls. You can also enjoy several outdoor activities such as biking, canoeing, disc golf, fishing, camping, and even equestrian facilities.
5. Kensington Metropark: Milford Charter Twp, MI
Kensington holds a wealth of my childhood memories: Picnics with my family, eating strawberry shortcake ice cream bars, and staying a safe distance away from the goats. There is no shortage in activity here at Kensington. From biking, birdwatching, swimming, and hiking, there is more than enough to keep you coming back to Kensington Metropark again and again. Some notable features include the Farm Center (visit in the late spring to see baby sheep, pigs, goats, etc.), the Nature Center, and the Splash n’ Blast water park. You can purchase a day pass for $10 per vehicle, or an annual pass for $35. Note- some activities require an additional fee.