If you are looking for natural beauty mixed with top-notch outdoor fun, Michigan is a great state to visit.
One area that gets a lot of visitors is the state capital of Lansing.
Lansing is centrally located, so that makes it a great hub for all kinds of city activities from museums, to baseball games, to college football at nearby Michigan State University.
However, there are a surprising number of outdoor activities in surrounding areas that provide fun for any nature lover.
Map of State Parks Near Lansing MI
Here is a map of the Michigan state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Lansing
Here are each of those state parks with distance from Lansing and what is special about each.
1. Sleepy Hollow State Park
Location: 7835 E Price Rd, Laingsburg, MI 48848
Nestled in the woods just 22 short miles North of Lansing, Sleepy Hollow State Park is one of the most beautiful parks in this part of the state.
Spanning over 2,600 acres, Sleepy Hollow is centered around Lake Ovid and offers year-round recreation for visitors. The 410-acre lake was formed by damming the Little Maple River.
The landscape of the park offers prairie fields, hardwood forests, and thick pines perfect for wandering visitors and wildlife.
For those who choose a more peaceful nature experience, Sleepy Hollow is a great place to observe a wild variety of wildlife, especially birds. More than 228 species have been recorded in the park including rare sightings of Bald Eagle or Bonaparte’s Gulls.
There are many places around the lake trails set up for observation of birds and other local wildlife in their natural habitat.
The trail system offers more than 11 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities for visitors in the spring to fall months. During the winter, trails are open for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding.
For day users, there are several picnic areas throughout the park equipped with shelters, vault toilets, water pumps, and grills. There is a beach house near the beach picnic area just Northwest of the campground.
The camping facilities include a rustic youth group campsite and a 181-site modern campground with electric, water, and modern restrooms.
If your favorite pastime is getting out on the water, Lake Ovid offers some of the best fishing around.
There is a paved boat launch and parking lot within the park, and kayaks, paddleboats, rowboats, and pontoons are available for rent.
Sleepy Hollow offers a serene and peaceful escape just a short, but worthwhile, drive from Lansing.
2. Ionia State Recreation Area
Location: Unnamed Road, Ionia, MI 48846
If you are heading to the West side of the state, make sure to stop at the Ionia State Recreation Area on your way via I-96.
Just 39 miles from Lansing, this park offers natural beauty in the form of rolling hills, babbling brooks, and a lake hidden in the hills.
Sit among the wildflowers as you observe over 199 species of birds in the prairie and around the lake.
If you’re traveling with your horses, the park offers the Department of Natural Resource’s largest equestrian campground, a rustic, 46-site area with grassy, spacious sites.
The park has a large variety of camping options in addition to the equestrian campground including a two-loop modern campground, mini cabins with modern amenities, a rustic hike-in campground, and camper cabins.
Camping facilities are located close to swimming, fishing, and boating facilities.
In addition to a beautiful, sandy beach for swimming and picnicking, the Ionia State Recreation Area has a beach house with restrooms, concessions, and canoe and kayak rentals.
Sessions Lake and the Grand River are great for boat or shoreline fishing. The man-made, 140-acre lake is centrally located and a popular spot for visitors to the park.
Some unique features of the park are the 24-hole disc golf course, which is available year-round, and a dog training area, which hosts field dog training competitions throughout the year.
Ionia State Recreation Area has something for everyone and could definitely be a great place to set up camp for outdoor adventures.
3. Meridian-Baseline State Park
Location: Pleasant Lake, MI 49272
Are you interested in unique, historical points of interest? If so, a stop at Meridian-Baseline State Park might be good to add to your itinerary.
Just 33 miles south of Lansing, the park spans approximately 108 acres of historically preserved land.
Two monuments mark the location where township, range, and section measurements begin for the state of Michigan. The two markers indicate the Meridian of Michigan and the baseline used for the Michigan Survey.
The monuments are a short mile and a half walk from the trailhead. There are no water or restroom facilities, but this historic site is definitely a unique location worth checking out if you are interested in history and nature walks.
4. Pinckney Recreation Area
Location: 8555 Silver Hill Rd, Pinckney, MI 48169
If you are looking for a park near Lansing that has it all, you will most likely find it at Pinckney Recreation Area.
Just 57 miles Southeast of Lansing, this 11,000-acre park is a gem of an outdoor getaway.
The park has three separate use areas for visitors: Silver Lake Day Use area, Bruin Lake Modern Campground, and Halfmoon Day Use facility.
Pinckney is known for its extensive hiking trails and is very popular among backpackers. All trails begin at the Silver Lake beach, and there are trailside, backcountry campsites available for those who want an extended trek.
Trails are also open to mountain bikers and horseback riders. In the winter, the trails are open for cross-country skiing.
Day-use visitors and overnight campers can enjoy the seven lakes located throughout the park. Watersports such as boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are popular activities throughout all three major use areas.
There is a beach house with showers and changing areas at the Silver Lake location. The Bruin Lake Campground offers 161 modern campsites with electrical service and modern restrooms.
A swimming beach and boat launch are available exclusively to registered guests of the campground.
Hunters of all kinds are welcome at the park. Hunting is available through most of the park during designated seasons, however, there are marked safety areas where hunting is not permitted, and target shooting is also not allowed.
For those interested in a different variety of hunting, metal detecting is actually an approved recreational activity when done in an environmentally conscious manner. There are designated areas in the park where visitors can hunt for treasures.
Overall, Pinckney Recreation Area is a natural playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
5. Yankee Springs State Recreation Area
Location: 2104 Briggs Rd S, Middleville, MI 49333
Located 59 miles West of Lansing, Yankee Springs Recreation Area has everything you expect from a Michigan state park.
There are nine lakes throughout the park’s 5,200 acres that provide water sports opportunities for visitors.
The unique terrain of the park lends itself to a wide variety of outdoor activities. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails, 12 miles of biking trails, and 10 miles of horseback riding trails.
There are two lakeside campgrounds. One is a modern campground at Gun Lake, and a rustic campground sits at the shore of Deep Lake. There is also an equestrian campground and a group campground for youth organizations.
Yankee Springs has a couple of unique historical features which sets it apart from other parks. The park was originally used as hunting grounds for the Algonquin Indians, and the site was once a stop on the stagecoach run from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids.
Points of interest in the park include the Devil’s Soupbowl, a glacial formation, Graves Hill Overlook, and The Pines.