Does anyone have any information on decent primitive campsites on or near the beach around North Manitou Island? Thx.
You might find this thread helpful
Check out Jeffrey Lee’s post. That 300-foot setback from the high water mark is still in effect.
Quoting from his post:
Relating to North Manitou:
"We also crossed over to North Manitou, which is equally beautiful and certainly more remote; aside from the Village campground near the ranger station, all camping is wilderness. Mother Nature has seen fit to locate the best wilderness campsites about 100-200 feet from the water's edge, while the NPS has opted to enforce a 300-foot setback from the high-water mark, as well as from any trails.
"So, in the many places where the island's perimeter trail approaches the shore, you may need to carry all your gear up a steep, 45-degree sand bank and as much as 600 feet into the brushy interior in order to pitch your tent. If you adhere to this setback rule, as we did, there is no practical kayak-camping anywhere on the entire northern half of NMI. There is precious little elsewhere along its shores, so be prepared to hike further inland than usual, or keep paddling while looking for a better spot.
"One possible way to make things easier, and which I believe does not violate the rule, is to pitch your tent or sleeping hammock the proper distance back in the woods, and do your cooking down near the beach by your kayaks. This reduces the amount of gear you need to haul up the sand banks (and therefore your ecological impact on the delicate dune trails), and offers a lake breeze to keep flies and mosquitoes down while you cook and eat. If a ranger stops by and questions you, call it a picnic. At nightfall, pack your kitchen stuff away in the boats and retire to your tent for the night."
Since campfires are prohibited, am guessing they used stoves for cooking.
N. Manitou camping
You have to camp at least 300' from the ordinary high water mark. Lake MI is not far from that level presently.
The Village area campground isn't too far from the beach, neither are the campsites at the Cat Holes or Johnson Place on the south end of the island. Both are up a bluff but have access to the beach and great views. Of course, you can backcountry camp as long as you obey the requirements. When I was there we left our boats near the shore and camped at established sites.
The ferry operators don't like it when paddlers suddenly need to get a ride. So if you plan on making the crossing yourself, pick a good weather day and make sure you're prepared and capable, and leave some flex in your schedule for the return trip. Otherwise, schedule a trip on the ferry and they'll be happy to take you and your boat.
All of the prior comments are good. I have backpacked the island several times and on one trip I scouted out a good landing location and camped nearby. Just north of Donner’s Point is an excellent beach. It’s location is 45.06906,-86.0185777 .
I’ve written an article that might be helpful in your planning. Things to see on North Manitou Island