Hoeft State Park is a public recreation area located on the shores of Lake Huron, six miles (9.7km) northwest of Rogers City in Presque Isle County, Michigan. The state park encompasses 1,872 acres (736ha), and lies adjacent to U.S. Route 23. It offers camping facilities, hiking trails, watercraft launch ramp, picnic areas, and scenic views of both land and lake. The state park was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Hoeft-Riverside Station Site in 2016.
In 1871, railroad magnate William Pryor Hoeft offered to donate 300 acres for a state park. At first, no one claimed the gift, so it went into abeyance. However, when the Northern States Power Company sought to build power lines across the northern part of the Upper Peninsula, preservationists rallied around the park idea. They formed the Friends of Hoeft State Park, which lobbied successfully in Lansing to have the park established by legislation in 1915. Land gifts expanded the park to 736 acres. Further legislative action in 1917 enabled the state to acquire additional lands, bringing the park up to its present size of 832 acres. A new act in 1920 gave the state authority to set aside 500 acres of land as a forest reserve, with the remainder of the park being open to all citizens.
The reserve has since grown to 901 acres. The park’s campground contains 141 sites, many equipped with electrical hookups. There are modern restrooms and showers at the campground, along with a sanitary dump station. Camping season begins with trout season in mid-June and ends at the conclusion of deer season in late December. Boat launches are provided at an outwash beach that also serves as a highway rest stop. Picnicking facilities include charcoal grills, electricity, and access to drinking water. Other amenities include hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, swimming beach, and hunting and fishing opportunities in nearby lakes and rivers. The park includes two separate units.
One unit consists of campsites along the riverfrontage, while the other comprises riverfront property plus some upland acreage. The riverfrontage unit features several large white cedar trees, undergrowth mainly consisting of blackberry bushes, willow, birch, and poplar trees, and shoreline mostly comprising sandstone rock. Deer and moose frequent this section of the park.
The Hoeft State Park Nature Center features exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the park. Exhibits focus on the ecology, conservation, and evolution of plants and animals, including butterflies, moths, dragonflies, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, wrens, owls, and mammals such as chipmunks, groundhogs, eastern coyote, North American porcupine, beavers, and muskrat. Educational displays include a life-sized figure of a timber wolf, mounted specimens of insects, and a hands-on science lab where visitors can explore a moose head, extract DNA from a mosquito, and use forceps to remove a tick. Programs offered include hayrides, guided nature walks, children’s programs, weddings, receptions, business meetings, and picnics. Facilities include a campground, boat launch, picnic shelters, playgrounds, swimming beach, horseshoe courts, volleyball court, and bike path. The park receives nearly 640,000 visits annually.
Two stone cabins built by the CCC stand within the park. Both feature exposed log construction, fieldstone foundations, and individual chimneys. The larger cabin has a basement, attic, and four rooms. The smaller cabin has two rooms and a kitchen/dining room. The park offers approximately 100 campsites divided into tent, trailer, and partial hookup sites. Half of the campsites are available on a first come, first served basis, while others require reservations.
Reservations are taken for half of the campsites each fall, with the balance going to walk-in guests the rest of the year. Tent and RV sites do not allow generators to be run, but batteries are permitted. Modern restroom and shower facilities with hot water are provided throughout the campground. River otters swim along the Presque Isle River. Fishermen may catch brown and brook trout, walleye, northern pike, panfish, perch, crappie, and muskies. Lake Huron provides freshwater fishing for largemouth bass, sunfish, northern pike, channel catfish, rainbow trout, and trout. Ice fishing takes place on Lake Huron, with thickness monitored daily at the park office. Hunting is allowed in much of the park, subject to regulations of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Hoeft State Park was among 13 parks established in 1920 following the creation of the Michigan State Parks Commission a few years earlier. Unlike most state parks of the day, admission was not charged until 1926. Prior to that time, the gate remained closed except for holidays. Admission became $1 a carload in 1927, but only if you could prove you had a license plate or registration certificate.
Fees were waived for honorably discharged veterans and their spouses and children. Passes good for three days or a week were available; annual passes good at all 13 state parks charging fees were introduced soon after.By 1930, more than a million people a year were visiting the park. The Civilian Conservation Corps opened a camp near the park between 1935 and 1938. Over 3,400 men served here, constructing roads, buildings, bridges, observation towers, and fire lookouts. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the park as a prime recreational destination.
- horseback riding
- miniature golf
- cross country skiing
Common fish species include:
- northern pike
The park provides excellent habitat for birders, with various:
- bald eagles
- trumpeter swans
- Canada geese
Many different types of wildlife can be seen at Hoeft State Park, including mammalian species like:
- black bear
- Canadian lynx
Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles and amphibians like:
- garter snake
- painted turtle
- soft-shelled turtle
- snapping turtle
The upland portion of the park features:
- mature red pine trees
The park preserves a mixed mesophytic forest environment featuring:
- green ash
- scotch pine trees