Living in Benzie County
Benzie County is the smallest county in Michigan at only 361 square miles, located in the Northwest Lower Peninsula. Our area is rich in natural resources with over 57 inland lakes, rivers, forests and areas of productive farmland. Over 36% of Benzie County is publicly owned State and Federal land, including the Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore, Platte River State Fish Hatchery & Weir and the Historic Point Betsie Lighthouse.
Locally Networks Northwest compiles data for Benzie County and the surrounding 10-County region:
For those living in Benzie County, it comes as no surprise that national education leaders and researchers are rediscovering the value of smaller schools, the kind of schools that parents here have appreciated for decades.
Nearby, the world famous Interlochen Center for the Arts offers arts education programs for students in grades 3-12 and adults of all ages. Interlochen also hosts hundreds of concerts and events and is home to two award-winning public radio stations.
Higher Education right in your backyard. Located in Traverse City, Northwestern Michigan Community College and its Great Lakes Maritime Academy have unique partnerships with senior universities offering selected bachelor degree-completion, graduate and certificate programs.
Benzie County is home to four accredited libraries. You can find meeting spaces, computer labs, and great programs along with thousands of books & movies.
Benzie Shores District Library
630 Main St. #9059
Frankfort, MI 49635
Benzonia Public Library
891 Michigan Ave.
Benzonia, MI 49616
Betsie Valley District Library
14744 Thompson Ave.
Thompsonville, MI 49683
Benzie County is home to many National, State and Local Parks & Recreation facilities. These parks range from rustic amenities to full-service facilities. Remember to be good stewards and leave them nicer than you found them.
C.J. KIBBY MEMORIAL BOAT LAUNCH (City of Frankfort)
Located on Betsie Lake with 24-hour public boat launch and docks, fish cleaning station, ice, bathhouse, and parking.
CANNON PARK (City of Frankfort)
Two acre neighborhood park on the south side of Main Street and across from First Street. The park has a cannon, historic marker, benches, grills, and water. The 7-ton cannon was brought to Frankfort in the late 1800s by the Grand Army of the Republic.
CRYSTAL LAKE BEACH (City of Frankfort)
Community park on Crystal Lake, commonly known as Bellows Park or the Seventh Street Beach.
FRANKFORT LAKE MICHIGAN BEACH (City of Frankfort)
12 acre community park with swimming beach, beach volleyball, swing sets, parking, and benches. The North Pier along the river outlet and the North Break Wall are used for walking and fishing.
KARL E. LUEDTKE PARK (City of Frankfort)
Commonly known as Rotary Park, a miniature park of less than one acre, located in the business district of Frankfort. The park has unique landscaping with benches, flowers, trees, shrubs, and an accessible ramp from the Marina to Main Street.
MARKET SQUARE PARK ( City of Frankfort)
Two acre neighborhood park located in the heart of the City with 2 basketball courts, 2 tennis courts, and miscellaneous playground equipment.
MINERAL SPRINGS PARK (City of Frankfort)
Six acre neighborhood park with mineral springs. The park has picnic tables, grills, shelter, indoor bathrooms, volleyball, playground equipment, sandbox, shuffleboard, open space, benches, and parking. Includes the City Marina with 71 berths.
FAIR PARK (Village of Beulah)
Miniature park with 100 feet of Crystal Lake frontage
LIBRARY PARK (Village of Beulah)
Less than one acre miniature park. Located along the Cold Creek.
MUNICIPAL PARK & BEACH (Village of Beulah)
2.25 acre neighborhood park with approximately 1000 feet of Crystal Lake frontage and a swimming beach. Facilities include a boat launch, bathhouse, a tennis court, shuffleboard, RV park, picnic tables, pavilion, and a playground.
NORTHWAY / CENTER STREET PARK (Village of Beulah)
Less than 1 acre miniature park with a tennis court
TRAPP PARK (Village of Beulah)
One acre miniature park with a basketball court, rollerblade and skateboard court, and picnic tables.
MALEY PARK (Village of Honor)
Approximately 2 acre neighborhood park at the junction of US-31 and Deadstream Road, the intersection is bisected by Leelanau Drive. Includes a spring fed fountain, picnic tables, swing sets, and parking.
MEMORIAL PARK (Village of Honor)
Approximately ½ acre miniature park that features a memorial dedicated to WWII
veterans. Located at US-31 and Platte Street next to the Post Office
ALMIRA TOWNSHIP PARK (Almira Township)
The park is a 42 acre property located at 7276 Ole White Dr. Amenities include three baseball diamonds, basketball court, volleyball courts, two tennis courts, a one mile paved walking trail, playscapes and swing sets. The park includes a pavilion with flush toilets and electrical outlets that can be reserved for gatherings and events. A tote with play equipment, such as miscellaneous balls, bats and other items, is available at the Township office. A refundable deposit is required for use of the tote. Several pit type toilets are also placed throughout the park. Also included on the park property is the Township office, Fire and EMS Station, County operated recycling center and the Veteran’s Memorial Pavilion.
ALMIRA TOWNSHIP LAKEFRONT PARK (Almira Township)
This park is a 1.65 acre parcel located on Ann Lake in the Village of Lake Ann. The park includes two pavilions, a flush toilet and a swimming area. This park is open year round for public enjoyment
BURNETTE PARK (Village of Lake Ann)
Two-acre neighborhood park, forested with mature maple trees, and includes picnic tables, tennis courts, a baseball field, basketball court, and bathrooms.
LAKE ANN STATE FOREST CAMPGROUND (Michigan DNR)
Sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations. 30 sites for tent and small trailer use. Located on Lake Ann, this campground offers good opportunity for boating, fishing, and hiking on Lake Ann Pathway. Rustic campground includes vault toilets and potable water from well hand pump.
LOWER WOODCOCK LAKE NATURE PRESERVE (Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy)
Lower Woodcock Lake is a true gem within the Platte River watershed. It contains the entirety of undeveloped Lower Woodcock Lake, a picturesque 22-acre lake surrounded by beautiful forest.
The conservation qualities of this preserve don’t stop there. It also contains most of a small unnamed stream that flows from Upper Woodcock Lake to Lower Woodcock Lake, the entire stretch of another unnamed stream from the lower lake that feeds into the Platte River and a full half mile of frontage on the Platte River itself. And while not completely surrounded by state land, about 70 percent of the property – including portions of all four sides – borders state forest. Such contiguity is critical for wildlife corridors, recreation and other factors.
RANSOM LAKE NATURE AREA (Almira Township)
This property is approximately 220 acres in size and includes 3,500 feet of Ransom Creek frontage and all of Ransom Lake. This property is to be kept in it’s natural state and open to the public for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, etc. Improvements to the park include a bridge, fishing dock, rest area, two handicap accessible bathrooms and a handicap accessible trail.
ACADEMY PARK EAST (Village of Benzonia)
Located on the east side of Michigan Avenue (US-31) at the corner of Traverse Avenue (Homestead Road). Four acre neighborhood park with baseball, basketball, 4 tennis courts, a playground, and ice-skating and hockey in the winter.
ACADEMY PARK WEST (Village of Benzonia)
A unique combination of wooded and open space surrounding the Congregational Church grounds. It includes a roadside picnic area, and parking for the museum, firehall, and township offices.
CENTRAL BARK (Benzonia Township)
Benzie County's first dog park (CENTRAL BARK, Dog Park) is located in the south east part of Memorial Park behind Honor Bank. It’s a great addition to our community and gives our otherwise leashed doggies a chance to get out and play with their friends. Benches are located in the fenced in area for humans as well as doggie bags, and a water station. You must clean up after your pets.
CRYSTAL LAKE PARK (Benzie County Parks & Recreation)
320 feet of Crystal Lake Frontage, 13 acres of hilly and wooded land area, surrounded with no development. Owned by the Benzie County Road Commission and leased to the Benzie County Board of Commissioners, it was deeded to the County with restrictions that it be used for park purposes only. It is managed as a natural area in conjunction with the Railroad Point Natural Area (See No. 23) and is accessed by a non-motorized trail from the Railroad Point Natural Area.
HOMESTEAD DAM - LAMPREY BARRIER FISHING SITE ( Michgan DNR)
One-mile long linear park, also known as the Homestead Dam Site, with canoe, kayak and boat launch, parking, spillway, and pit toilets. Open to the public along the north side of the river from the spillway to the US-31 access site.
MEMORIAL PARK (Benzonia Township)
Located behind (west of) Watson Benzie car dealership, Memorial Park is a 30-acre parcel of land reaching from South Street to Grace Road. The Memorial Park Committee works with the township board to continue to improve the park. It's used for class reunions, weddings, family gatherings, ball games, 4-H soccer, and many, many other gatherings.
To schedule the park, please use the Memorial Park Usage Form and contact the Township Office at 231-882-4411. We ask that you schedule large gatherings to assure that the park will not be overbooked.
VILLAGE ROADSIDE PARK (Village of Benzonia)
Miniature park located on Michigan Avenue (US-31) on the southeast corner of the intersection with Traverse Avenue. Landscaping and benches, with parking for the top of the hill business district and parks.
ZADA PRICE PARK / MITCHELL PARK (Benzie County Road Commission)
Zada Price Park, also known as Mitchell Park or the Wilson Property, is located on the north shore of Crystal Lake, just west of the marina, in Benzonia Township. It has a paved County road-end that provides access to Crystal Lake for canoes, kayaks, and smaller boats on trailers. The park also provides swimming access; however, as most of the shoreline is covered with shrubby vegetation, it is most commonly used as a public launch. An unpaved parking area is located across Crystal Drive from the water access. The property also features a short trail that goes up the hill from the parking lot and an accessible picnic table. In the winter, the site is used for snowmobile and ice-fishing access to the lake.
BLAINE TOWNSHIP HALL & PARK (Blaine Township)
Offices and a large multipurpose room with a one acre community park. Includes open space at the end and south side of White Owl Road on Lower Herring Lake. The park is adjacent to the County road-end at Herring Lake with a parking area, picnic tables, and a shelter
INSPIRATION POINT OVERLOOK (Michigan DOT)
Restrooms and a network of viewing platforms overlooking steep bluffs, Arcadia marshlands, and Lake Michigan.
LOWER HERRING LAKE PUBLIC ACCESS SITE (Michigan DNR)
Boat launch, dock, swimming, and parking.
PUTNEY ROAD - MYSTERY SPOT (Benzie County Road Commission)
Roadway where it appears that gravity is defied and cars roll uphill. Located south of Putney Corners on Putney Road. Note: No trespassing on the private orchards adjacent to the roadway.
UPPER HERRING LAKE PRESERVE (Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy)
120 acres of wetland, historic marl pits, and open field with 2800 feet of frontage
on Upper Herring Lake, nature trail, and boardwalk.
GRASS LAKE STATE FOREST CAMPGROUND (Michigan DNR)
15-site rustic campground with swimming and a small boat launch to access wildlife flooding areas at the dam on the Betsie River.
BETSIE VALLEY TRAIL (Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail)
The Betsie Valley Trail is a 22-mile multiuse trail located along the former Ann Arbor Railroad. The trail extends from Frankfort through Elberta and Beulah to Thompsonville all through Benzie County. There a several places to access the trail and several established trailheads with parking. The trail informally starts at the City of Frankfort's Lake Michigan Beach and passes through Cannon Park. It then follows Waterfront St. (the only section to share the road) to where the separated trail starts at Mineral Springs Park. The trail passes through Frankfort's waterfront parks along Betsie Bay. The DNR owned Betsie Valley Trail officially starts at 10th Street. From here to Mollineaux Rd, the paved trail is accessible to non-motorized users. Riding along this section of the trail, users can enjoy views of Betsie Bay, the Betsie River and its surrounding marshland, and Crystal Lake. From Mollineaux Rd. to Beulah the trail runs along Crystal Lake and passes through the County-owned Railroad Point Natural Area with access to the beach and Crystal Lake, as well as to the Natural Area via a staircase up the bluff. The two-mile section closest to Beulah runs through private property on a 10-foot easement. Special use restrictions apply here. The trail is crushed limestone from Mollineaux Rd. to Beulah. The trail between Frankfort and Beulah is the most frequently used and is for non-motorized use only. The 13-mile section from Beulah to Thompsonville compacted aggregate and runs through pine and hardwood upland forests and the Pere Marquette State Forest. This section of the trail is open to snowmobiles from December 1st through the end of March.
CRYSTAL LAKE TOWNSHIP PARK (Crystal Lake Township)
90 acre community park consisting of undeveloped, wooded, and hilly open space. 600 feet of frontage on the Betsie Valley Trail and the Betsie River.
CRYSTAL LAKE BEACH (City of Frankfort)
One acre neighborhood park with a swimming beach on Crystal Lake. Also known as Bellows Park or 7th Street Beach. The park has swing sets, picnic tables, grills, a shelter, a boat launch, and parking across Crystal Avenue.
CRYSTAL LAKE OUTLET PROPERTY (Michigan DNR)
MDNR Boating Access Division owns 29 acres between the outlet on Crystal Lake and the West End of the Railroad Point Natural Area. The acreage fronts on Crystal Lake adjacent to the lake level control dam and crosses Mollineaux Road into wetlands to the south. Swimming area with limited parking.
RAILROAD POINT NATURAL AREA (Michigan DNR)
The property encompasses diverse forestland, a steep bluff, wetlands,
frontage on the Betsie River and Outlet Creek, over 2700 feet of Crystal Lake shoreline, a 1.5 mile nature trail, the Betsie Valley Trail, an overlook and staircase down to the Betsie Valley Trail, and a parking area off of Mollineaux Road. The natural area is located along the south shore of Crystal Lake, around 5 miles east of Frankfort and 2.5 miles from Beulah. It spans Crystal Lake and Benzonia Townships. Together, the Railroad Point Natural Area and neighboring Crystal Lake Outlet property constitute 57% of publically-owned shoreline on Crystal Lake; and make up the longest stretch of natural shoreline on Crystal Lake – about 4300 feet. The property is used for a variety of activities including hiking, wildlife viewing, hunting, snowshoeing, swimming, boating, and fishing, along with arts and cultural activities such as painting and photography. The habitat here also provides the opportunity for viewing a variety of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.
ANDERSON PARK (Village of Elberta)
1/2 acre miniature park with playground equipment and a basketball court.
COMMUNITY BUILDING AND PARK (Village of Elberta)
Seven acre neighborhood park including the Community Building, public rest rooms, a baseball field, bleachers, playground equipment, and 2 tetherball polls.
DUDLEY PENFOLD MEMORIAL PARK (Village of Elberta)
Four acre neighborhood park accessible from M-22. Facilities include a covered picnic pavilion with 12 picnic tables and 3 grills, wooden playground equipment, boat launch for canoes and kayaks, a pedestrian bridge, access to the Betsie Valley Trail with parking, and 34 boat slips
ELBERTA HISTORIC WATERFRONT PARK (Village of Elberta)
10 acre community park with 1200 feet of scenic water frontage. The park has a covered picnic pavilion with 12 picnic tables, two parking lots with 54 parking spaces, a playground, paths and trails, an outdoor amphitheater, a fishing deck, drinking fountain, life saving station, and public rest rooms.
ELBERTA LAKE MICHIGAN BEACH (Village of Elberta
One mile long community beach including primitive restrooms, accessible pier, scenic overlook with parking, and boardwalk.
TOT PARK (Village of Elberta)
1/4 acre miniature park with playground equipment and a basketball court.
VETERANS PARK (Village of Elberta)
1/2 acre miniature park consisting of open space within a residential area.
HOMESTEAD TOWNSHIP RECREATIONAL PARK (Homestead Township)
34 acre community park with four baseball/softball fields, press box, concession stand, storage garage, two pavilions, playground, and a walking trail.
PLATTE RIVER STATE FOREST CAMPGROUND (Michigan DNR)
Approximately 1350 feet of frontage on the Platte River with 26 tent/RV campsites, open space, and a day use area with picnic tables.
VETERANS MEMORIAL STATE FOREST CAMPGROUND (Michigan DNR)
40 acres with approximately 1400 feet of Platte River frontage, located on the south side of US-31. Facilities include 21 camping sites, parking, and water.
INLAND TOWNSHIP PARK (Inland Township)
24 acre community park with a pavilion on Lake Ann Road north of Bronson Road or 1.5 miles north of US-31. Recently logged pine.
PLATTE RIVER STATE FISH HATCHERY (Michigan DNR)
Fish Hatchery for Coho Salmon development and release into Lake Michigan.
PAQUETTE ROADSIDE PARK (Michigan DOT)
Eight acre shaded roadside rest stop with picnic tables and pit toilets.
BASS LAKE ACCESS (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Small accessible boat launch, access to Bass Lake Loop Trail and vault toilet.
EL DORADO PARK (National Park Services - SBDNL)
One acre community park with parking for 10 vehicles, vault toilet, small boat and canoe launch, wooden deck/dock, and picnic table.
ESCH ROAD - END (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Lake Michigan access to beach with swimming, access to Otter Lake Loop Trail, and vault toilet with parking along road shoulder.
KITTENDORF LANDING (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Walk-in canoe site with vault toilet, take-out ramp, and trail to Riverside Canoes.
LAKE MICHIGAN DRIVE - END (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Parking on the north and south sides, with two paved lots for up to 79 vehicles. Modern rest rooms and changing facilities for swimming. Adjacent to Lake Township Park on the south side of Lake Michigan Drive
LAKE TOWNSHIP PARK (Lake Township)
Approximately a two acre community park with swimming, canoeing, kayaking, picnic tables, grills, benches, and a canoe launch site. The park has 300 feet of frontage on the Platte River south of the Lake Michigan Drive boat launch and west of the National Park parking and rest rooms.
LITTLE PLATTE LAKE PUBLIC ACCESS (Michigan DNR)
Boat launch with rest rooms and parking
LOON LAKE PUBLIC ACCESS (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Public lake access with a picnic shelter and grill, accessible rest room, accessible dock, and a 27 vehicle parking lot.
OLD INDIAN TRAIL (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Trailhead on M-22 east of Sutter Road. All season trail with two loops totaling 4.6 miles. Parking for 20 cars, pit toilet, and water pump
PLATTE RIVER CAMPGROUND (National Park Services - SBDNL)
150 campsites (96 with electricity), 24 walk-in tent sites, and 5 group sites. 8 modern rest rooms with showers and a RV sanitary dump station. Trails to Lake Michigan, a 200-person amphitheater, ranger station, and maintenance shop.
PLATTE RIVER PICNIC AREA (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Accessible area with 4 shelters, canoe and kayak launch, fish cleaning station, walkway along river, benches, and parking for 27 vehicles.
WHITE PINE CAMPGROUND (National Park Services - SBDNL)
Six walk-in primitive camping sites, one fire-ring, and pit toilet.
POINT BETSIE LIGHTHOUSE (Friends of the Point Betsie Lighthouse)
Also known as Pointe aux Becs Scies, this historically significant landmark was added to the National Register in 1984. The 1858 Lighthouse is one of the most visited and photographed in Michigan, and the beacon is still maintained by the Coast Guard as an active aid to navigation. The station was transferred from the U. S. Bureau of Land Management to Benzie County in 2004. Under an agreement with the Benzie County Board of Commissioners, the non-profit Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse are responsible for the restoration, maintenance, and operation of the Point Betsie Light Station. To date, all buildings have been fully and historically restored, and a new museum/gift shop/restroom building was constructed to replace the non-historic 1970s garage. Employees are hired to operate the Light Station for the public benefit during the summer season and to maintain the Light Station year around. An endowment fund was established to support the restoration and preservation of the Point Betsie Light Station. The endowment is held at the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation. The light station is open for tours from Memorial Day to late October. The station’s historic 4th order Fresnel lens is on display, along with numerous other lighthouse and lifesaving station artifacts, including one of the last wooden light station workboats in the country. During the season, an upstairs assistant keeper’s apartment is available for weekly rental, and the station may be rented for limited-size special events such as meetings or weddings. A museum exhibit/gift shop/restroom building was opened in 2014. The Lighthouse is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, south of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and about five miles north of Frankfort. Just off M-22, the Benzie County Road Commission’s Point Betsie Road road-end provides access to the facility and the Lake Michigan beach
PLATTE TOWNSHIP OPEN SPACE (Platte Township)
80 acre community park with open space for walking and hiking
BARGERSTOCK RECREATION AREA (Village of Thompsonville)
Approximately 7 acre community park with two ball fields, concession stand, lighting on one ball diamond, bleachers, dugouts, electricity and running water.
FRED'S LANDING (Michigan DNR)
Betsie River access with primitive camping
MICHIGAN LEGACY ART PARK (Michigan Legacy Art Park Foundation)
30 wooded and rolling acres adjacent to Crystal Mountain. Open year round during daylight hours. Outdoor concerts in the Jessie Frohlich Amphitheater and more than 40 art works installed along 1.6 miles of trails. Established in 1995 to provide cultural, artistic, and educational services to the public.
SHARP PARK (Village of Thompsonville)
Approximately 2 acre neighborhood park with 20 campsites (6 with electricity), vault toilets, running water, and picnic tables located in a wooded area at the village water tower on the corner of Thompson Avenue and Thompsonville Highway. The historic “Rail Diamond” is featured at the park.
THOMPSONVILLE COMMUNITY PARK (Village of Thompsonville)
Approximately 3 acre neighborhood park with basketball court, 2 tennis courts, open space, vault toilets, picnic tables, playground, pavilion with electricity, running water, and grills.
THOMPSONVILLE COMMUNITY CENTER (Village of Thompsonville)
Meeting and banquet space located in the Thompsonville Community Park.