GRAYLING – The Grayling Chamber of Commerce chose Hartwick Pines State Park as their Spotlight-A-Member for November.
In 1927 Karen Michelson Hartwick purchased 8,236 acres from the Salling, Hanson, & Co. Karen’s father, Nels Michelson, was a founding partner of this company. One day after purchase, Karen deeded the property to the State of Michigan. She did this to memorialize her deceased husband, Edward Hartwick. Both Karen and Edward grew up in Grayling and were familiar with this tract of land. Like many locals, it is said the couple came to this stand of old growth forest to have picnics.
Named Edward E. Hartwick Pines Park in 1927, it officially became Hartwick Pines State Park in 1935. Today, the park is almost 10,000 acres and is know for its old growth forest, the largest in the Lower Peninsula. It has white pines that are 350-400 years old.
Year-round outdoor fun can be found at Hartwick Pines. Camping, hiking, birding, mountain biking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing are just some of the things you can do here!
At the Hartwick Pines Visitor Center, you can explore the Exhibit Hall and learn about the trees and animals of Michigan. During the summer season, this is where you can start a guided tour of the Old Growth Trail or partake in many other nature activities. This is also where you will find the Hartwick Pines Giftshop, operated by the Friends of Hartwick Pines State Park.
The Park is also home to the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum. The museum is open early May-Late October and is home to exhibits depicting the height of Michigan’s logging era. See the bunkhouse, mess hall, and blacksmith shop as they appeared in the 1890s. In the summer months, historic interpreters provide tours of the museum and programs about logging camp life.
The 100-site campground is open seasonally. Modern hook-ups and bathroom facilities are available. In the summer, campground hosts provide activities for campers.
The Park is host to many annual events such as Maple Syrup Days, Wood Shaving Days, Forest Fest, Black Iron Days and so much more! Additional information about Visitor Center programs & events can be found at www.michigan.gov/hartwickpinesvc.
People may not know that the historic chapel in the pines and picnic pavilion are available for rent. The chapel is available for year-round rentals. A group organizational campsite is available for family reunions, scouting organizations, and other large groups. Kirtland’s Warbler tours, sponsored by the Michigan Audubon Society, depart from the Visitor Center during the month of June.
About 1/3 of the old growth pine was knocked over in one storm in 1940. Originally 80 acres, today there are 49 acres of old growth white pine, red pine, and hemlock.
The Memorial Building, the park’s original visitor center built in 1929, is currently undergoing deep cleaning. The building has been closed since the new Visitor Center was opened in 1995. In the summer of 2017 it was fumigated and is now being thoroughly cleaned. Guided tours of the building will be available starting Spring 2019. A long-term restoration project is in the works. You can help contribute by purchasing a Memorial Building t-shirt from the Hartwick Pines Giftshop. All proceeds go towards the restoration fund.
The park is located at 4216 Ranger Road, Grayling. You can contact the Visitor Center at 989-348-2537 or the Park Headquarters at 989-348-7068.