Kalkaska is a quaint town in the heart of the Northern portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Combining its strong base of community values, its heritage of hard working people, and the natural beauty of the surrounding area, Kalkaska provides a bit of paradise for residents and visitors alike.
Getting to Kalkaska
You can find Kalkaska on the retail paper map MI-06–M-186 to Charlevoix County
From the North or South: Kalkaska is located right off US 131, about 45-minute drive north of Cadillac, MI and an hour-drive south of Petoskey, MI. The Trail crosses 131 at the intersection of US 131 and MI-72.
From the East or West: Kalkaska is located off MI-72 about a 35-minute drive east of Traverse City, MI and a 30-minute drive West of Grayling, MI
Hikers entering the town from the Southwest come through the Pere Marquette State Forest. The Trail exits the State Forest at Kalkaska Road,for a 3.88 mile roadwalk that winds past the fairgrounds, and through the heart of Kalkaska, exiting town on County Road 612, with the roadwalk continuing past Blue Lake and Log Lake, re-entering the Pere Marquette State Forest north of W Log Lake Rd.
Hikers entering the town from the Northeast exit the Pere Marquette State Forest north of W Log Lake Rd and begin a 3.88 mile roadwalk past Log Lake and Blue Lake, entering Kalkaska on CR-612. Roadwalk continues through the heart of Kalkaska and exits town at the fairgrounds, re-entering the Pere Marquette State Forest on the West side of town.
In 1840, shortly after Michigan became a state, the Kalkaska area was part of Wabassee County. In 1853 it became a part of Grand Traverse County, and later, Antrim County, The first settlers arrived in 1855 and in 1871 the area was finally organized under the name of Kalkaska. The name Kalkaska is a native American word sometimes said to mean a flat of table land. Others maintain that the word means burned over territory.
When the Native Americans inhabited the area, the land was covered with tall white pine trees. After the lumbermen came the land was cleared of its forests, the tops and branches burnt where they lay. As the lumberman moved north in search of more forest, they left behind small communities which evolved into farming-based towns.
Tourism in the Kalkaska area began around the turn of the century as people in the Midwestern cities discovered the county as a place to vacation in the great outdoors. The forests had sprouted young trees and bushes which provided food and cover for deer and other animals. The county soon became known for its hunting and fishing.
In the 1930’s when the great depression hit the country, much of the privately-owned land in the area reverted to the state. Today, almost half of the land is owned by the State of Michigan. DNR developed snowmobile, horse and hiking trails criss-cross the area, connecting many camping and natural areas.
Oil and gas was discovered over 30 years ago. Major drilling began in the 1970’s, resulting in more than 100 producing wells. Industry too has grown in the area, with 12 manufacturing plants recently beginning operations. Kalkaska has had the greatest percentage of population growth of any county in Michigan, increasing 100%. Per capita income has also increased dramatically.
Things to See and Do
LOG LAKE COUNTY PARK AND CAMPGROUND
The campground is located about 2 miles east of Kalkaska on Log Lake with a total of 44 campsites, 10 sites are full hookup, 28 have electric only, and 6 rustic sites. The campground also has indoor bathrooms and showers.
For recreation there is a sandy beach and swimming area, a playground, an 18-hole disc golf course, baseball field, horseshoe pits, a volleyball court, and WI-FI internet access for campers.
Concession is located in the office where you can purchase ice, ice cream, pop, snacks, firewood, fishing equipment, bait, Disc’s and other camping needs.
For reservations call:231-258-2940 (no credit card or money down required)
CHERRY STREET MARKET
This spin on a roadside fruit stand blends greenhouse annuals and perennials, garden decor, fresh local fruits and vegetables, deli meats, cheeses, salads, fresh baked pies and cookies, locally baked bread, jams and jellies in a way that draws clientele from all over our great state and beyond.
KALKASKA TROUT FOUNTAIN
Located in the downtown district of Kalkaska, Michigan, the fountain, symbolic of Michigan’s Official State Fish, the Brook Trout, is 18 ft. high and the Brook Trout is 17 ft. long. Fountain has wash stones from nearby Torch Lake and Michigan Petoskey stones in the base. The National Trout Festival is held annually the last weekend in April in Kalkaska, MI.
KALKASKA COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM
The Kalkaska County Museum is located in the Train Depot building in downtown Kalkaska. The original building was built about 1873, but burned down in July 1910. The present building was built immediately following and opened for business in June 1911. It became a museum on June 29, 1970. The building was first rented from the village and then leased in perpetuity. It is maintained by contributions, memberships and memorials. The original structure has been preserved and kept in much the same design as when it was used as a depot. (Only the occasional freight train goes past now.) Artifacts at the museum are all a part of Kalkaska history. Much information is available regarding people, places, dates, businesses, schools, churches, clubs, local government, industries, early exports and pioneer days. It is open to the public in June, July & August from 1:00pm to 4:00pm Wednesday through Saturday. Call Don Bellinger at 231-258-9719 for more information or to make an appointment to see the museum during off season times.
GUERNSEY LAKE STATE FOREST CAMPGROUND
Sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations. The campground offers 36 sites for tent and small trailer use including some walk-in sites for hikers. Located adjacent Sand Lakes Quiet Area, ideal for nature observation, hiking, and camping. Rustic campground includes vault toilets and potable water from well hand pump.
SAND LAKE QUIET AREA
One of the most popular natural areas in northwest Michigan. 10 miles of hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. Hiker trailhead located at Guernsey Lake State Forest Campground. Skiing trailhead 5.5 miles SE of Williamsburg via M-72 & Broomhead Road. Offers several miles of pristine trails that wind around many scenic little lakes that dot the preserve. Many of the skier-tracked trails cross over frozen lakes, which are also popular with local ice fishermen. Wildlife is abundant.
The Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter maintains the Trail through Kalkaska. Visit their page to learn more.