Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes surounded by the United States shores. It has a surface area of 22,400 square miles (58,016 km²), making it the largest lake entirely within one country by surface area (Lake Baikal, in Russia, is larger by water volume), and the fifth largest lake in the world. It is 307 miles (494 km) long by 118 miles (190 km) wide with a shoreline 1,640 miles (2,633 km) long. The lake's average depth is 279 feet (85 m), while its greatest depth is 923 feet (281 m). It contains a volume of 1,180 cubic miles (4,918 km³) of water. Its surface averages 577 feet (176 m) above sea level, the same as Lake Huron, to which it is connected through the Straits of Mackinac.
Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan are the only place in the world, aside from a few inland lakes in that region, where one can find Petoskey stones, the state stone. The sand is soft and off-white, known as "singing sands" because of the squeaking noise (caused by high quartz content) made when one walks across it. There are often high sand dunes covered in green beach grass and sand cherries, and the water is usually clear and cool (between 55 and 80 °F [13 and 27 °C])
The beaches of the western coast and the northernmost part of the east coast are rocky, while the southern and eastern beaches are sandy and dune-covered. This is partly because of the prevailing winds from the west which also cause thick layers of ice to build up on the eastern shore in winter.
Parks and places I hiked in this area:
The 5 mile long Mackinac Bridge spans the Straights of Mackinac that lie between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, with Mackinaw City on the south end of the bridge and St. Ignace on the north. Mackinac Bridge also known as "Big Mac" is part of the North Country Trail. The annual bridge walk across the Mackinac Bridge is only open one day a year, the morning of Labor Day, when an annual bridge walk is held. At that time, the bridge can be walked southbound in a mob of 50,000 to 70,000 people. At other times, hikers must find other ways across the Straits of Mackinac. The Mackinac Bridge Authority operates a shuttle bus; to go north from Jamet Street, the last exit on I-75 before the bridge, call (906) 643-7600 to arrange pickup; southbound, the bus leaves from the Bridge Authority offices at the north end of the bridge.
For more information on North Country Trail see Lake Superior album.
Fisherman's Island State Park
Fisherman's Island State Park is not actually an island, but a 2,678-acre park with five miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline. The park encompasses a tiny island, Fisherman's Island, located a short distance offshore from the picnic area. Located just south of Charlevoix, it features a rustic campground with some of the sites nestled in the dunes along the lakeshore. The park road travels through the campground to the picnic area with access to the beach and miles of hiking trails. The interior terrain consists of rolling dunes covered with maple, birch and aspen broken up by bogs of cedar and black spruce. Fisherman's Island State Park Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan. It is thirteen miles (21 km) long, three to six miles (10 km) wide, and forms part of Charlevoix County, Michigan. It is mostly flat and sandy, with large forested tracts. According to U.S. census data, the island has 55,773 square miles (144.45 km²) of land, and a year-round population. Beaver Island lies approximately 32 miles (51 km) from the city of Charlevoix on the mainland, and can only be reached by air or boat.
A General Overview of Beaver Island's History can be found: Beaver Island
Due to very clear waters at the beginning of the summer, there are diving opportunity to look at shipwrecks.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore
One of the most favorite parks on Michigan shore is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a United States National Lakeshore located along the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in Leelanau County and Benzie County. The park covers a 35 mile (60 km) stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. The park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. The Lakeshore also contains many cultural features including the 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse, three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations and an extensive rural historic farm district.
Grand Haven State Park has a beautiful sandy shore on Lake Michigan along the west side of the park and the Grand River along the north side of the park. The park consists entirely of beach sand and provides scenic views of Lake Michigan and the Grand Haven pier and lighthouse.