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Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

Three Oaks, Michigan
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Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

We are in southwest Mchigan and itching to take our new, small camper north for 5-6 days. We are thinking of leaving Friday, but very concerned that by heading up on a weekend it'll be considerably more busy. Is this generally the case? If we don't like crowds how much of a difference will we see if we headed up Sunday?

Is Leelanau State Park a good alternate, with adequate hiking, efc?

Also ... we will travel with our two large, sweet dogs. These are country bumpkin dogs ... Leash trained, but they don't particularly enjoy hiking that way and neither do we. They also adore the water. What's it like in the Sleeping Bear area with dogs? I wouldnt expect to go anywhere terribly popular with the pups, but are there locations that are more dog-friendly?

If it is likely we would have to keep them on leash the entire time, we may need to rethink this.

Thanks!

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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1. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

You'll see quite a difference in traffic/crowds between weekend and weekday, lots of people make this a weekend destination. We were at Crystal Mountain last year just after the GMA segment on Sleeping Bear and I remember people saying how busy it was...long lines for Pierce Stocking Drive, no parking spots at trailheads, etc. We were there for the weekend a couple of weeks ago (Memorial Weekend, now that I think about it) and it seemed busy, but not crowded.

I've not stayed at Leelanau SP yet, but it's on my list to check out. We stayed at Platte River Campground a couple of weeks ago and LOVED it...one of the nicest campgrounds we've stayed in. For Sleeping Bear, I don't think you'll find better. The keep a portion of their sites for "walk in only" with no reservations. If you're coming in on a Sunday, I'd bet you can score a campsite here no problem.

Your dogs will definitely have to be leashed for most/all of the Sleeping Bear hikes and in the campground. We met some folks with a Newfie and a couple of Leonbergers while at PRC and they did tell us about a nice beach a ways South that's dog friendly where they can run free...can't remember where exactly, but maybe someone else will chime in. There are also several less popular/populated beaches where it might not be strictly legal, but I doubt you'd have a problem letting the dogs loose.

Hope this helps, I'm sure you'll love the SBD area!

Bay City, Michigan
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2. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

I highly 2nd Platte River Campground. One of our very favorites. Glad you liked, DHC. :)

I am trying to think of the name of the beach on Good Harbor Bay that allows dogs, or rather, maybe, people just take their dogs and nothing is ever said or done about it. If I can find out, I will let you know. Also agree with going on a Sunday. If you try for the weekend, you could find yourself without a camping spot, though in June, you might get in---somewhere.

Bay City, Michigan
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3. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

Leelanau has no hookups of any kind DHC, and I was thinking with your trailer, you'd want those. They also have no showers, or full service restrooms, just vault toilets. Just wanted to let people know that!

Three Oaks, Michigan
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4. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

So you guys both like Platte River better than DH Day, eh? Curious why? Would one be better than the other in terms of privacy with the dogs? They aren't barkers, but they are definitely more pleasant to be with when they aren't watching streams of people walk by :)

The name of the dog beach would be great. We have been to SBD once before ... Without dogs ... But we vividly remember a beautiful lab running up and down Pyramid Point. Is that the exception, not the rule? I also remember walking along a beach which I think was north of Pyramid Point and seeing no one. This was a weekday in late June, and I'm wondering if a situation like that might be a dog walking possibility too.

Tymetraveller, have you been to Leelanau State Park?

Also curious if anyone recommends any of the national or state forest campgrounds in the area ...

Traverse City...
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5. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

One important comment, if you haven't already done so. If you're going be heading into the park with your pets, I'd advise checking at the Visitor Center in Empire beforehand. Several of the beach areas are nesting habitat for endangered piping plovers. Dogs would most definitely not be recommended (nor allowed) in these sensitive areas.

For more about the plovers, here's a link:

nps.gov/slbe/naturescience/pipingplover.htm

Bay City, Michigan
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6. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

I have never camped in a national or state forest campground, so cannot comment on that one.

Yes, I have to Leelanau SP and I commented above on that. They have no full use restrooms (no showers or flush toilets, just vault toilets) nor any hookups-electricity being the main hookup I like having. They do, of course, have water spigots to access water. Otherwise, it is a great little campground. However, sites are pretty darn close together from what I recall.

Platte-you won't have that many people walking up and down the road in front of your campsite, esp midweek June. There are even a few sites that are back from the road. If you set up your camper angled a bit on the site, and then park your car (I am assuming here you have pop up?) angled a bit the other way, you can create more privacy.

I will try and find out either the name or directions for that beach...!

Traverse City...
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7. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

Just south of Pyramid Point, on the 2nd left off of Port Oneida Rd., there is a beach that is good for dogs - we were there with 3 over the weekend and there were several other dogs (at least 6 more) on the beach as well. It's a fairly quiet beach, and you can walk quite a distance and be all on your own if you like. There are very steep stairs down to the beach though - our dogs were pretty scared to go down them (and I was scared they might drag us down them), but once safely down they had a great time!

Traverse City...
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8. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

Most beaches in the National Lakeshore allow leashed dogs one direction and not the other. I can't remember which-I think dogs are okay to the south. I have taken my Labrador off leash countless times, but you can get fined if you get caught.

Bay City, Michigan
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9. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

The beach is on Good Harbor Bay, at M-22 and Good Harbor Trail. It is across the street from County Road 651. I believe dogs can be to the right side of that beach.

Edited: 17 June 2012, 18:41
Los Angeles...
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10. Re: Weekend crowds at Sleeping Bear/Leelanau? Dog friendly?

Platte River campground is beautiful. My family used to camp there every summer before we started renting cabins. We never stayed at DH Day, but I bet it's very nice as well.

Several beaches allow leashed dogs. They are not supposed to be off leash, but I hardly ever see a dog actually on its leash. There is a beach close to Plate River campground called Peterson Road beach - you have to walk over a long boardwalk to get to the beach and when you do, there is a sign - dogs allowed to the left, not allowed to the right. It's a great beach for swimming or a sunset campfire. It's a long way down the road (but definitely walkable from the campground - maybe 1.5 miles?) so it doesn't get nearly as much traffic as the rivermouth.

Here's a link to the pet policy:

www.nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/pets.htm