We traveled to Hartwick Pines State Park over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in 2018. We failed to make plans for the weekend in advance so we were excited to see a cancellation in early May. We expected mild weather because the temperatures had been quite chilly earlier in the month but instead ended up with very hot, 90-degree weather, All-in-all we weren’t super excited about this park and ended up leaving a couple days early when we scored an open site at Otsego Lake County Park nearby. I think we would have enjoyed our time much more if the weather had been cooler and there were fewer mosquitoes.
We camped on site 74, in the section of the campground that offers pull-thru, full hookup sites. The campsite itself was really convenient because of the sewer and water connection right at the site but it lacked the scenery we typically love about state park campgrounds. If we visit again, we’d probably ditch the convenience of full hookup for one of the campsites in the upper section of the campground because there were many more trees. I included a screenshot of the park map below showing which sites are in the open area and which are in the tree-covered area.
The campground itself was a bit underwhelming in our opinion. We expected it to be a bit more wooded and scenic. The playground was great and our kids really enjoyed their time playing there. It was also handicap accessible. Our kids also really liked riding their bikes around our campsite. The roads connecting the pull-thru sites are basically dead ends so we allowed our kids to ride up and down with more freedom, We’re always worried about the kids riding where there is a lot of traffic so that was really nice.
We explored Grayling during our stay and again we were a little underwhelmed. It didn’t offer the charm that we’ve found in other Northern Michigan areas.
We also visited the Grayling Fish Hatchery. Our kids really liked feeding the fish and watching the trophy-sized rainbow trout go after the food. They were huge! Our son really wanted to fish so we let him catch a few fish while we were there. Warning: this place is expensive! We spent about an hour total feeding fish, exploring, and fishing and between the fee to enter and the fee to purchase the fish we caught we ended up spending nearly $50.
We had planned to spend much of the next day visiting the rest of the state park. We were really excited to stroll through the old growth trail and visit the logging museum. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were unbearable (even after generous applications of spray) and we abandoned our walk as soon as we reached the museum, We literally ran with all three kids as fast as we could back to the truck because the bugs were so thick. We were really bummed because the trail was beautiful. If you’re planning to hike on the trails be prepared!