Craig Lake State Park in Michigan

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Craig Lake State Park - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

In this case, getting there is indeed half the battle. 6.5 miles of rocky two-track road is the only way into this beautiful, protected wilderness area in Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula. Lest you think this is just another two-track, be warned, the road is covered with large rocks, deep holes, hills and winding turns. Signs along the road tell you to "Expect a Vehicle", but you had better expect a large logging truck as parts of the 6,983 acre park are actively logged, and it is not uncommon to meet a logging truck along this road. Vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended although it is possible for cars to traverse the rocky path.

Once you've made it into the park, the beauty and serenity of Michigan's least visited state park will not disappoint. You will not need reservation as the only campsites in the park are for backpackers and paddlers. Campsites are spread out across the park and payment is made via a self-registration drop pipe at the entrance to the park ($6/night).

There are many beautiful campsites throughout the park but keep in mind that these are totally rustic campsites. The absence of even pit toilets means that proper preparations must be made prior to your trip. Be sure to bring along toilet paper and a small shovel and please bury all waste. For those of you who prefer a few more comforts of home two cabins are available for rent in the park.

The cabins do not have electricity, but a hand pump for water and an outhouse toilet are provided. There is also a grill for cooking and a fire ring for campfires. The smaller cabin will sleep six and the larger cabin sleeps up to 14. These cabins are open to the public from May 15th to October 15th, weather permitting. Rates are available from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Craig Lake State Park comprises of 6 lakes and a network of trails that make it possible to portage from lake to lake or spend a day (or more) hiking throughout the interior of the park. Access to the park is via Craig Lake, the largest in the park. Craig Lake is a quality fishery for walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and even muskie lurk in these waters.

If smallmouth are what you are after you really should visit Clair Lake, a first class smallmouth fishery. The portage to Clair Lake is about .4 miles, and mostly uphill. The path is well maintained and makes for a fairly easy, although somewhat strenuous portage. The portage from Craig Lake to Crooked Lake is just over 1/2 mile but follows a fairly wide and flat trail. All the lakes in the park offer good fishing and only Keewaydin Lake allows motorized boat access. Special fishing regulations do apply so be sure to consult your Michigan fishing handbook.

The fishing in only surpassed by the scenery. Craig Lake State Park is a true wilderness area and everywhere you paddle you are reminded of the beauty that true wilderness offers. Wildlife abounds in the park and you are almost certain to see loons, eagles, and whitetail deer. If you are lucky and keep a watchful eye you may also see beaver, black bear, or even a moose. Craig Lake State Park is open to hunting from September 15 to March 31 and all Michigan hunting regulations apply.

Whether it's for the fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing or just to get away from it all, Craig Lake State Park is an excellent destination those who prefer to travel by canoe or kayak.

How to get there:

Craig Lake State Park is located six miles west of Champion in Baraga county of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Take US-41/M-28 and turn north onto Keewaydin Lake Road. The left branch of the road follows 6.5 miles to the Craig Lake access area. Once there you will need to portage your gear 1/4 mile to the waters edge. A Michigan State Park sticker is required for your vehicle.


Craig Lake State Park
P.O. Box 88
Champion, MI 49814-0088
Phone # (906) 339-4461
TDD # (517) 335-4623


Hunts Guide to Michigan's Upper Peninsula
This book is a must have book for traveling across Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It is a detailed look at almost every point of interest in the UP. Where to eat, where to sleep, what's worth seeing and what isn't, all of this is covered in one handy book.

Michigan State and National Parks : A Complete Guide A detailed guide to the Michigan State Parks. If you live in Michigan or vacation there often, you should pick this book up and see what you're missing.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location