South Manitou Island is a part of Sleeping Bear Dunes Nationwide Lakeshore and sits about 16 miles from the coast of Leland, Michigan. Within the mid-1830s, William Beck established a village on South Manitou Island to produce cordwood to Nice Lakes steamships, however at this time, it sits uninhabited.

The unique city on South Manitou Island was Burton’s Wharf. As occasions modified, the inhabitants moved away from the Lake Michigan island, and the inhabitants fell to zero. However explorers can nonetheless hike, view unique buildings and ruins, go to a shipwreck, camp, and extra on the island.

Listed below are seven issues to know earlier than you get on the boat to the abandoned and exquisite South Manitou Island.

1. You’ll Arrive By Ferry

Manitou Island Transit leaves from Leland, also referred to as Fishtown, at 10 a.m. for the 90-minute experience to South Manitou Island. You’ll wish to arrive for departure about 45 minutes early to stroll from the car parking zone, get your ticket, and seize a seat on the highest deck of the boat. You’ll be on the island by 11:30 a.m.

The doorway to South Manitou Island requires a nationwide park cross since it’s a part of the nationwide park system. The cross is per automotive, though you aren’t taking your automotive to the island. You should purchase the cross on the Fishtown dock once you buy your ferry ticket.

Usually, the ferry returns to South Manitou Island at about 4 p.m. to take day trippers again to the mainland and acquire these tenting on the island.

The dock on Michigan's South Manitou Island.

The dock on Michigan’s South Manitou Island. The abandoned island is simply accessible by ferry.

Picture credit score: Amy Piper

2. You’ll Discover The Island’s Restricted Facilities Close to The Dock

You’ll discover fashionable restrooms and a water pump as you exit the ferry on the dock. Sadly, the island doesn’t have showers, and the one potable water is within the village behind the boathouse. 

You’ll additionally discover electrical energy to cost your cell telephones on this space. Word, there isn’t a different electrical energy obtainable. Cell service is spotty and finest on the shoreline. 

3. Begin Exploring At The Customer Heart

The very first thing we did was test in on the customer middle. Open dawn to sundown, this is a wonderful place to get oriented to the island. Located the place the final retailer as soon as was, you’ll discover artifacts and images describing life on the island throughout its logging days. It gave us an outline of South Manitou Island’s historical past. We discovered that the customer middle was the proper place to get any last-minute questions answered and finalize our plans for the day.

South Manitou Island cemetery, Michigan.

The cemetery on South Manitou Island, one of many websites listed on the Nationwide Park Service’s map

Picture credit score: Amy Piper

4. The Nationwide Park Service Has A Map Of Sights

Vehicles aren’t allowed on South Manitou Island, nor are bikes in some areas, so mountaineering is your only option. In the event you’re going for the day, you’ll wish to plan your hikes, as you’ll solely have about 4 and a half hours to discover the island. The island’s perimeter gives a 10-mile loop hike.

Editor’s word: In the event you take pleasure in locations the place vehicles aren’t allowed, take a look at:

You’ll have a number of choices for mountaineering the island. Once you arrive on the ferry, beginning on the present dock, you’ll be able to stroll north a couple of half mile to Burton’s Wharf, the unique village. The city included a blacksmith store, put up workplace, normal retailer, a tamarack railroad, a home, and a barn.

From the customer middle, hike to the lighthouse. Then you’ll be able to climb the 117 steps up the spiral staircase, which has landings about each 20 steps. From the highest, you’ll have gorgeous views of the Manitou Passage and the mainland’s Sleeping Bear Level.

From the lighthouse, it’s roughly a 3-mile hike to the above-water shipwreck that ran aground in November 1960, the Francisco Morazan. Then cease by the Big Cedars, also referred to as the Valley of the Giants. They’re the world’s largest cedar timber. Some are greater than 500 years previous. From the 400-foot perched dune, you’ll have a 360-degree view of Lake Michigan.

Lastly, take a look at Florence Lake, the 78-acre inland lake, only a half-mile hike from the southern fringe of South Manitou Island.

Professional Tip: Attraction Map

You’ll discover a map of South Manitou Island with the distances to its varied websites on the National Park Service website.

The abandoned South Manitou Island Schoolhouse, Michigan.

The deserted South Manitou Island Schoolhouse, now a landmark on island excursions

Picture credit score: Amy Piper

5. Guided Excursions Present An Island Overview And Historical past

I’ve some mobility challenges, however seeing the island wasn’t a difficulty. The Manitou Island Transit gives two completely different tractor-pulled wagon excursions. The wagons have padded seats however are harking back to a hayride. The primary tour consists of the farm and schoolhouse, whereas the opposite covers the cedars and shipwreck. We stopped alongside the best way to get out and discover a bit. The information offered historic info as we toured.

You’ll want a further day to take each wagon excursions, because the excursions are between 2 and a couple of.5 hours. The day journeys solely provide about 4.5 hours on the island. You’ll be on the island round 11:30 a.m., and the excursions start at midday.

You may register for a tour with the Manitou Island Transit boat crew members in your approach to the island.

6. You Should Carry Meals And Provides With You

The island doesn’t have motels, eating places, or shops. Due to this fact, you will be unable to purchase meals or some other necessities on the island. So, whether or not you’re staying for the day or tenting in a single day, you will want to convey sufficient meals to final your whole keep. Plan your meals, snacks, and drinks. 

Moreover, take an additional day or two price of provides with you. You by no means know what climate the Nice Lakes will convey, even on a summer season day journey, and chances are you’ll spend longer than anticipated.

The boat sells refreshments to take pleasure in, however in my view, you’ll want to make sure that you might have what you want earlier than you get on the boat. If they’re out of one thing, you received’t have the ability to get it as soon as you might be on the island. On the best way again, we loved having refreshments, as we have been thirsty from all of the mountaineering.

Additionally, pack a water bottle. They do have a hand pump within the village with potable water, however in case you are mountaineering, you must have a water purification equipment or carry an additional bottle of water that you just pump on the village.

A small medical equipment that treats bug bites and poison ivy can be important. The island additionally has black flies, mosquitos, and ticks.

Even in heat climate, I put on lengthy sleeves and lengthy pants to keep away from getting bitten. To keep away from getting insect bites, convey insect repellent that incorporates DEET.

Be sure you convey snug mountaineering footwear, sunscreen, sun shades, a hat, and a jacket or sweater, because the temperatures on the water will be considerably cooler than on shore.

Professional Tip: Village Cheese Shanty

Take into account getting some cheese sandwiches from the Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown earlier than you get on the boat. They make a pleasant picnic lunch. That stated, don’t wait till the final minute, as you wish to be certain you might have one thing to eat for the day.

Hiking trails on Michigan's South Manitou Island.

Climbing trails on Michigan’s South Manitou Island

Picture credit score: Amy Piper

7. Tenting Is The Solely In a single day Lodging

With a lot to discover on South Manitou Island, chances are you’ll wish to make it greater than a day journey if you happen to take pleasure in tenting. Because the island has no motels, inns, or mattress and breakfasts, camping is the one possibility for in a single day lodging. They’ve three camps: The Bay Campground, The Climate Station Campground, and the Popple Campground.

The Bay Campground is a half-mile stroll to the dock. It options 25 particular person campsites and three group websites.

On the island’s south aspect, the Climate Station Campground is a couple of mile and 1 / 4 hike on a wooded path previous the lighthouse. It has three group websites and 27 particular person websites. The campsites have privateness from each other and overlook Lake Michigan on the bluffs. This campground has open hearth pits.

South Manitou Island's shoreline, Lake Michigan.

South Manitou Island’s shoreline

Picture credit score: Amy Piper

The Popple Campground is about 3.5 miles from the ranger station on the island’s north finish. It’s extra distant and gives extra solitude than the opposite campgrounds. It additionally has stunning views of North Manitou Island and is well accessible to the seashore. They don’t allow fires on this campground.

The island practices leave-no-trace tenting. Due to this fact, it’s essential to pack out any waste supplies. As well as, it’s essential to carry your gear to your campsite with out wheeled help, together with wagons or carts. Try the Nationwide Park Service’s steered tenting packing list.

Professional Tip: Tenting Reservations

The nationwide park doesn’t make reservations for particular person campsites. Nonetheless, in case you have greater than eight folks in your get together, they take reservations for group websites. When you’ve got lower than that, you’ll obtain a tenting allow in case you have boat reservations. They’ve by no means stuffed up the island campgrounds. You buy tenting permits once you test in for the boat.

In the event you take pleasure in islands, discover a few of these different quaint islands in Michigan and america:


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