The Complete Guide to Burt Lake State Park

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By Published On: September 12, 2022Categories: Latest Articles

Situated on the southeast corner of Burt Lake, where Burt Lake and the Sturgeon River intersect, Burt Lake State Park is at the heart of Michigan’s Inland Waterway. The 400-acre state park features year-round fun in the form of water sports, camping, and hiking. In addition, the park’s shoreline showcases 2,000 feet of sandy beach, making it perfect for swimming, building sandcastles, or just grabbing a few rays to improve that tan.

History of Burt Lake State Park

Cheboygan County donated 83 acres of land along the Burt Lake shoreline to the Michigan State Parks Commission. It was 1921, and Burt Lake State Park became one of Michigan’s first 25 state parks. Shortly after the original donation, another 40 acres became the State of Michigan property for a total of 123 acres. Then from 1931 to 1939, a series of land transfers and exchanges brought the total acreage of Burt Lake State Park to the 406 acres it is today.

Burt Lake, the namesake of the state park, got its name from William Austin Burt, who collaborated with John Mullet to do a federal survey of the area from 1840 to 1843. John Mullet has his namesake in the nearby Mullet Lake.

Burt Lake is about 10 miles long, five miles at the widest section, and about 73 feet deep.

Things to Do Inside Burt Lake State Park

Fishing, swimming, and boating are some favorite activities that will keep you busy. Biking and hiking on the one-mile trail is another favorite among locals and visitors.

Campsite at Burt Lake State Park

Campsite at Burt Lake State Park

Camping at Burt Lake State Park

Open May through October, Burt Lake State Park offers 306 modern campsites and has four shower buildings with toilet facilities. The park also has a group-use area and interpretive center.

Check-in time is 3 p.m., and check-out time is at 1:00 p.m. Keep this in mind, as the park service officials need these two hours to prepare the site for you. In addition, you can’t camp for more than 15 consecutive nights, and someone must be at the campsite every night.

The park allows only two vehicles per site, with visitors leaving by 10 p.m. nightly. Your camping equipment must fit within the campsite boundaries, which they mark on the pavement in front of the site.

Other items to note are:

  • They don’t permit fireworks in the park.
  • The fire pits are for campfires, NOT trash, composting, or recycling. Please consider how you want to find the site and leave it that way.

Burt Lake – Modern Campsite

The modern campground has two loops, a west loop and an east loop. Sites with a view of Burt Lake are sunny and large. The other sides offer shade from hardwoods such as maple and oak. You’ll find the campground next to the swimming beach, boat ramp, playground, and picnic area. Additionally, you’ll have either 30 or 50-amp service throughout the campground. They also have a sanitation station and recycling.

Reserve a mini cabin if want a roof over your head. Finally, you’ll find a store nearby if you forget something or run out of a necessity.

If you’re looking for a campground or overnight accommodation, the Michigan State Park & Harbor Reservations offers the Notify Me option. If the campground is full for the dates you want, click on the Notify Me button for the dates you’ve selected in your search. Then, follow the prompts to get an email notification when a reservation opens. Receive assistance with Notify Me by using the Live Chat at the bottom of under Contact Us.

Burt Lake-Group Use Area

The park offers a tent-only site that can accommodate 25 campers. In addition, the rustic group-use campground is open to youth groups. For reservations, call the park. The area uses a vault toilet.

Water Sports at Burt Lake State Park


You can fish along the shoreline on the northern boundary of Burt Lake State Park, along the Sturgeon River. You’ll find walleye, perch, trout, bluegill, pike, and other pan fish.

Free Fishing Weekends

Michigan offers two free fishing weekends annually. The winter weekend is the Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day Weekend. The summer weekend is the Saturday and Sunday following the first complete week of June.

They waive all fishing license fees for these two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors can fish Michigan’s waters for all species of fish. Fishing regulations still apply. They don’t require a Recreation Passport into state parks and boating access sites during Free Fishing Weekends.


Burt Lake State Park has a day-use area with a swimming beach and shoreline fishing. It also has a picnic area and a boat launch, including a skid pier and car with trailer parking.

Boating at Burt Lake State Park

Boating at Burt Lake State Park


Most DNR boat launches allow parking only during daylight hours with no overnight parking. You’ll find several places to rent boats in Indian River along the Inland Waterway, including Howe Marine.

Howe Marine for Boat Rentals Near Burt Lake State Park

Howe Marine for Boat Rentals Near Burt Lake State Park

Hiking on the Burt Lake-Foot Trail

The park’s entrance road divides the foot trail into two trails. On the north side of the road, the trail follows the Sturgeon River, and on the south side, the trail goes through the woods and the modern campground. To access the path, park next to the contact station. They don’t allow bicycles, horses, or motorized vehicles on this trail. However, the trail supports winter cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing.

Interpretive Center at Burt Lake State Park

Interpretive Center at Burt Lake State Park

Picnicking at Burt Lake State Park

They have a picnic table and fire pits or grills in the picnic area and campsites. They also have one picnic shelter available for rent. Contact the park to reserve it.

Burt Lake State Park in Winter

They groom the trails during winter for cross-country skiing, show shoeing, or even just a walk. In addition, winter is a great time to do a bit of birding on the trails. You can park at the contact station.

Discover more ways to enjoy Michigan’s winter wonderland at

Recreation Passport

You’ll need a Recreation Passport to enter most Michigan state parks, trails, boat launches, harbors, and historic sites. For additional details and to purchase one, visit

Burt Lake State Park and Dogs

While Burt Lake State Park offers a pet-friendly shoreline in the non-designated bathing beach area, dogs must be on a 6-foot leash and always attended. On-leash pets are also welcome on the trails. Additionally, always pick up after your dogs, and dispose of waste in the appropriate receptacles.

Hotels Near Burt Lake State Park

The Stargate Motel

The Stargate Motel’s 16-acre parcel has direct access to the trails for those interested in ATV and snowmobiling. With 14 rooms, a mobile home, and a cottage, you’ll find their large parking lot, convenient for large groups, those pulling trailers or boats.

Rooms at the Waterway Inn Near Burt Lake State Park

Rooms at the Waterway Inn Near Burt Lake State Park

Waterway Inn

If you aren’t up to camping at the park. Burt Lake State Park is within walking distance of the Waterway Inn. They offer five mobile homes and 11 rooms. Most rooms feature a gas fireplace for the cold Michigan winters. In the evenings, guests gather and socialize near the fire pit. Boaters will also find their large parking lot convenient when pulling boat trailers. The motel has fit as many as 14 boats comfortably in their parking lot at one time.

Restaurants Near Burt Lake State Park

Wilson’s Rivers Edge Restaurant

Wilson’s Rivers Edge Restaurant is a family-friendly environment for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer a breakfast buffet, so if you wake up on a rainy day or don’t want to bother with the effort it takes to make breakfast over an open fire, Wilson’s is just down the street.

They make their pies and soups from scratch. So you can buy a whole pie, a quart, or a gallon of soup to take back to your campsite, where you can enjoy eating in the great outdoors without the hassle of cooking it yourself.

Try These

  • Local Favorite: Breakfast Buffet
  • Pie: House-Made Pie
Antipasti Salad at Vivio's Near Burt Lake State Park

Antipasti Salad at Vivio’s Near Burt Lake State Park


Vivio’s offers both American and Italian cuisine. They are known across northern Michigan for their salads, pizza, and plates of pasta.

If you’re looking for a fish dinner from the Great Lakes, whitefish Vivio’s style is a good option. They serve it with veggies and a choice of sides.

In addition to traditional lasagna, they offer a vegetarian version. Combine a pasta meal with crispy antipasti salad and warm house-made yeast rolls. Be sure to save room for the traditional Italian tiramisu.

They don’t take reservations at Vivio’s. Instead, enjoy a glass of wine on the covered patio. If you have the kiddos with you, plan to spend time at the playground on the other side of the parking lot to let them burn off steam while the parents keep a watchful eye and enjoy a glass of wine.

If you don’t want to wait in line, they have a carry-out that you can enjoy in the picnic area of Burt Lake State Park.

Try These

  • Entrée: Lasagna
  • Dessert: Tiramisu

 Where is Burt Lake State Park?

Located in Cheboygan County, Michigan, where the nearest commercial airlines are Alpena County Regional Airport (KAPN), Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), and Chippewa County International Airport (CIU).

 Directions from Down State

From Lansing, Michigan’s capital city, it takes about four hours to drive to Burt Lake State Park.

  1. Take the left ramp onto I-496 East the Olds Fwy and go for 1.5 miles.
  2. From 1-496, Exit 8 toward Flint onto US-127 North and go for 86.5 miles.
  3. Continue US-127 North toward the Mackinac Bridge for 51 miles.
  4. Take the Exit onto I-75 North and go for 60.3 miles.
  5. Take Exit 310 towards M-68/Indian River/Rogers City and go for 0.3 miles.
  6. Turn left onto M-68 Highway toward Indian River/Alanson/Petoskey, and go for 0.6 miles.
  7. Turn left onto S Straits Hwy, M-68, and go for 0.3 miles.
  8. Turn right onto State Park Road, and go 161 feet.

Burt Lake State Park’s address is 6635 State Park Rd, Tuscarora Twp, MI 49749

Directions from Mackinaw City

Driving to Burt Lake State Park takes only about 30 minutes from Mackinaw City.

  1. Head south on South Huron Avenue, and go for 0.7 miles.
  2. Turn right onto South Huron Avenue, US-23, toward I-75, and go for 522 feet.
  3. Turn left onto Old US 31, and go for 0.2 miles.
  4. Turn right toward South Nicolet Street, and go for 98 feet.
  5. Turn left onto South Nicolet Street, and go for 0.1 miles.
  6. Continue North Mackinaw Highway, and go for 0.4 miles.
  7. Turn left, take the ramp onto I-75 South toward Saginaw, and go for 27.3 miles.
  8. Take Exit 310 toward M-68/Rogers City/Petoskey, and go for 0.3 miles.
  9. Turn right onto M 68 Highway, M-68, toward Indian River/Alanson/Petoskey. Go for 0.3 mi.
  10. Turn left onto S Straits Highway (M-68), and go for 0.3 miles.
  11. Turn right onto State Park Road, and go for 161 feet.

Burt Lake State Park’s address is 6635 State Park Rd, Tuscarora Twp, MI 49749


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