your paddlesports destination

Wilderness State Park (Lake Mich.) in Michigan

Trip Overview

We purposefully chose to camp in late fall at Wilderness State Park as most of the campers in "happy Camper" land parks are long gone. Our campsite #111 was directly on Lake Michigan. It was about 5 miles from the Straits of Macinaw. This is the Big Stone Bay area.

This was a repeat visit to this area to see the changes in the topography from Lake Michigan's dropping water levels. I had been here 10 years ago. Daily paddles to Waugasahunce point were from the parking lot that is two miles west of the campground. The paved road ends to slightly improved two track road which takes you to the state park cabins (5 total). The parking lot here is now about 75 yards from the water. 10 years ago it was right up to the concrete "ramp" you can see as you walk out to Lake Michigan.

Another amazing change to the area, the second parking lot. 10 years ago water covered the lower parking lot in this area. You could look south and see the water within feet here of Sturgeon Bay, now nothing but dry land for more than a 1/2 mile south. From Goose Bay south to Temperance Island, to Waugashaunce Island, to the "BIG Cut" the whole area has lost so much water that this is now a land bridge between all the islands that were there 10 years ago.

My goal was to examine the (formerly existing) Islands and see how much the changes were. In the past the area had all these mini cuts and islands, sprinkled with Lake Michigan sand and the green water. If you took a picture here 10 years ago in the summer it looked like the Caribbean when you looked in the water. Alas I stood at the bottom of "big cut" 10 feet lower than it was back then.

Paddling alone breaking every rule especially in fall (alone, wet suit only, etc), I set out to head to the end of the island chains. To see so much change in the area was amazing. I could not find one cut or water section that would make these islands any more. I paddled about 4 miles down to the end. Water level depth in places 1/4 mile out where only a mere 6 feet. The lee ward site of this peninsula had major waves almost every time I came about this end, as the wind pretty much has an unobstructed run of many miles before reaching this area. So use caution.

The last trip out it was gusty winds and they were having micro burst down drafts down where I was paddling in this area. I ended up only going out about 100 yards. This area is known for its strong currents as water is pushed around and through to the straits area. I knew of how the winds and current can make for a rough paddle, so I bailed.


Wilderness Systems Sealution kayak


camping ranges around $20 and up


From South in Michigan, Take 27 north to I-75, Just before the Macinaw bridge crossing, get off exit 339 and head west.


I used the maps from to plan most of the trips

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip