Fife Lake is an authentic Northern Michigan village in the Lower Peninsula located a thirty-minute drive south of Traverse City founded in 1872. The village began as a lumbering town, fueled by the operation of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad. Today, there are many ways for visitors to step back into the past and learn about our rich history while enjoying a full service resort community.
Getting to Fife Lake
Hikers can easily access the village via a 1 mile spur trail off the main trail. The NCT in this area is part of a 21 mile loop trail which offers a unique hiking experience. There are two state forest campgrounds (which are both NCT Trail Heads with overnight parking) at each end of the hiking loop. On the southern end of the loop is Old US131 State Forest Campground which is located right on the Manistee River. On the northern end of the loop is Spring Lake State Forest Campground located on the shores of Spring Lake. Spring Lake Campground was the very first state forest campground in Michigan and is just one and a half miles from the Village of Fife Lake. Fife Lake is also included in the MI05 map available for purchase here.
Things to see and do
If you’ve got time to explore the village there are many things to do. The charming downtown of Fife Lake is walkable and offers several quaint shops and dining spots all within a short stroll to the shores of Fife Lake itself.
TAKE THE FIFE LAKE HISTORICAL WALK: Visitors can experience the unique history of Fife Lake first hand by going on the Fife Lake Historical Walk. The tour includes 27 display plaques throughout the village with wonderful historic photographs and a short write-up identifying a variety of historical buildings and sites. Brochures, including a map of the Historic Walk, are available at the historical museum and the Fife Lake Public Library.
TOUR THE FIFE LAKE AREA HISTORICAL MUSEUM: Fife Lake, Michigan is proud to support an outstanding small-town museum. It is chock full of artifacts and displays relating to the history of this quaint village and the surrounding area. Visitors will learn about the geology of the area, the first inhabitants, (native Americans), the lumbering era, and farming. A bedroom, kitchen, dining room, and parlor are displayed in the style of the late 1800’s. You are sure to find much that is fascinating.
STOP IN AT THE HISTORIC ONE-ROOM SCHOOL HOUSE: Built in 1878, the building became the Fife Lake Township Hall in 1886, when a larger school was built. The library became the sole occupant when the new township hall was built. After our beautiful new library was built in 2006, the Fife Lake Area Historical Society purchased the building from Fife Lake Township and did a complete renovation. Today it is used to teach local history to 4th grade students and houses our genealogy records. Stop in and see an old-time school.
VISIT THE HISTORIC FIRE BARN: Built in 1876, the oldest building in the village was built just four years after Fife Lake was platted. The fire barn now holds displays showing the development of emergency medical and fire services. Check out the sleigh used by a local doctor to make house calls, the 1937 truck modified to become a fire engine, the printing press used to report the many fires, and much more.
The museum, school house, and fire barn are open from 1:00 to 4:00pm on weekends (Fridays,
Saturdays & Sundays) throughout the summer. For more information visit http://fifelakehistoricalsociety.com
Hikers who appreciate the serenity of the forest, streams and the Manistee River will enjoy this area of the North Country National Scenic Trail. This portion of the trail is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter. Visit the Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter’s page for more information.