Visit Charles Mears State Park in Pentwater
Photo by Michigan DNR
West Michigan has a variety of wonderful state parks, and Pentwater is home to one of them…Charles Mears State Park.
Named after lumber baron Charles Mears, the 50-acre park is located just north of Pentwater along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
The History of the Charles Mears State Park
Charles Mears was known as the “Christopher Columbus of the West Coast,” due to the fact he operated 15 mills and built five harbors along the western coast of Michigan. In order to aid his lumber business, Mears dug a wide channel for the Pentwater River going to Lake Michigan. In 1955, he built his saw mill, as well as a nearby store and boarding house for his laborers.
Originally called Middlesex, the area became known as Pentwater in 1867 when the village was created. Mears had built a long pier into Lake Michigan so that large boats could haul lumber from Pentwater to his Chicago yards. Charles Mears died in 1895, but his legacy lives on. In 1923, Mears’ daughter Carrie deeded 600 feet of beach to the state of Michigan. This land was the beginning of what would become the present Charles Mears State Park.
Charles Mears State Park offers 175 paved campsite lots and a nice sandy beach along Lake Michigan, adjacent to the North Pierhead Light. Now available is a rentable pop-up camper, much more affordable than the former park manager’s quarters. There is a one mile interpretive trail for hiking, and a sand dune called Old Baldy that provides a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.
Visitors can enjoy a playground (which has new equipment that was added in 2012), picnic shelter, great fishing, and even a metal detecting area. The park also has an accessible walkway by the concession stand, making it easier for people in wheelchairs or those with strollers and coolers on wheels. A new concessionaire will be on site this year, the same one that operated the Ludington State Park concessions the last several years.
The charming village of Pentwater is known for its quaint shops, art galleries, and the wonderful Village Green, venue for many outdoor concerts and art fairs. Side streets feature beautiful Victorian homes and colorful, blooming gardens. Watch the sailboats as they glide in and out of the marina, and just relax as the Lake Michigan breezes cool you.
Charles Mears State Park in Pentwater is one of Michigan’s premier state parks, with rich, historical significance.