As Lake County is a mecca for recreation, we are at our peak time for camping. There are many public campgrounds that accommodate you for that purpose. With state land and the federal forest encompassing our entire county, I felt it would be a good time to advise the readers of our local gems our county has to offer.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I cover camping in Lake County. (Some of these excerpts come directly off the DNR and USFS websites.)


The history of camping can be traced back to Great Britain when people would travel by boat on the Thames River. This was increased in the 1880s, during the late Victorian Era, as a pastime for a large number of visitors who took part in the pastime while they were boating.

Camping as a recreational activity in the U.S. became popular among the wealthy at the turn of 20th century. This later grew in popularity among society as a whole.

Some of us use tents, while others use trailers, with the top end using motorhomes. At the end of the day, this is a way for us to escape the craziness of our everyday lives to spend time in the outdoors to relax with nature and partake in the much needed peacefulness.

There are two common definitions of a camping area or campsites:

Impromptu Area: A place that one might decide to stop while backpacking or hiking, or simply adjacent to a road through the wilderness.

Designated Area: A place with improvements and various facilities.

Dedicated Area, or Campgrounds, usually have some amenities. These common amenities can include:

• Fire pits to build a campfire (this can be a circle of rocks, a steel ring, a metal grate, a concrete spot, or even just a hole).

• Road access for vehicles

• A gravel or concrete pad on which to park a vehicle.

• Picnic tables

• Marked individual sites that indicate a boundary for one camper or campers in a group.

• Electric poles, water hook ups, and black water tanks.

• Raised platforms to setup tents.


I remember when I was growing up my grandmother had this large red van that was referred to as an "open road." I also remember my father having this big long ugly motor home with a "W" on it.

After speaking with a few friends that manufacturer RV's, I recently learned that there are three general classifications of RV's.

• Class A: These are the large, bus-shaped rigs that you would see like a celebrity tour bus.

• Class B: These are the large conversion van types, which usually have limited space inside compared to the other two.

• Class C: These are the campers general built on truck chassis with part of the camper extending over the truck cab.


• Pop-up Campers: Very compact but feature canvas sides and need to be unfolded before they can be used.

• Travel Trailers: A wide range of towable trailers that come in a variety measurements and have different floor plans.

• Toy Haulers: These are hybrid travel trailers which have a special compartment to haul your ORV or snowmobile.

• Fifth wheel trailers: Are the largest RVs on the market, but are also the heaviest and require a specific type of in-bed truck tow hitch.

• Truck Campers: A type that is directly placed on a standard pick-up truck.


Here are some of the basic rules for camping in the state designated campsites:

• Check-in on your arrival date is 3 p.m. and check-out on your departure day is 1 p.m. for camping. Check-in on your arrival date is 4 p.m. and check-out on your departure day is noon for overnight lodging. Campers must check in upon arrival with whatever way is provided.

• Camping is permitted in designated sites only.

• No more than six people per campsite, two vehicles per site.

• In tent-only campsites, as many tents as necessary to accommodate a single camping party are permitted within the boundaries of the site. In other sites, one primary camping shelter and one tent are allowed (exception: children may occupy up to two tents on the same site as their parents or guardians).

• Campfires are permitted in designated fire rings only.

• Discharge of firearms, air guns, slingshots or arrows aren't permitted in campground boundaries.

• A responsible person (18 years or older) must register and be a member of the party camping each night.

• Radios, generators or other amplified devices may not create excessive noise.

• A Recreation Passport is required for entry into DNR parks and recreation areas.

• Park hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Only registered campers are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. with the exception of occasional events.


Carrieville State Forest Campground: Located along the Little Manistee south of Old M-63 on Kings Highway.

Lincoln Bridge State Forest Campground: From Luther, go north on State Road near 10 Mile Road.

Silver Creek Campground: From Luther, take State Road north 5 miles.

Leverentz Lake Campground: From Baldwin, take U.S. 10 east 2 miles to South Forest Drive. Go north for 0.2 miles, turn left for 0.7 miles.

Bray Creek Campground: From Baldwin, take M-38 north to 44th Street. Go east on 44th Street for 0.5 miles to where it curves to Merrillville Road. Go 0.25 miles to 40th Street.

Bear Track Campground: From Irons, take 10 1/2 Mile Road west for 3 miles. Turn north onto Bass Lake Road for 3.5 miles. Turn right on North River Road, then travel .25 miles to Riverside Road, then turn right.


Before you plan an activity in the Forest, please be sure to check whether or not you need a permit or pass.

Common activities that may require a permit include wood cutting for firewood, posts, poles, rails, mushroom picking, rock collecting and cutting a Christmas tree.

In addition a permit may be required for group gatherings or events, filming or videography, or long term uses such as outfitter guides, roads and water systems.

Many recreation uses and activities continue to be free on all National Forests, such as general access, pass-through travel, scenic overlooks and pullouts, parking on the side of roads and walk-up camping at undeveloped sites.


Bowman Bridge Campground: From Baldwin, travel west on 7th Street for 0.4 miles. Road will curve left onto Cherry Street, turn right at 52nd Street. Travel 4.2 miles to campground.

Old Grade Campground: From Baldwin, take M-37 north 11 miles to Forest Road 5190, which is about .25 miles north of Old-63. Turn left onto Forest Road 5190. Sign is at entrance.

Claybanks Campground: From Baldwin, travel west on 52nd Street for .25 miles. Turn left and travel south on Astor Road for .5 miles. Turn left and go south on South Claybanks Road.

Elk Canoe Campground: Travel about 1 mile downstream from Upper Branch Bridge on the Pete Marquette River. This campground is in the middle of the 66-mile Scenic portion of the river. The camps are set back from the river in openings within a forested setting.

Log Mark Rest Stop: Travel about 1.5 miles downstream from Lower Branch Bridge on the Pere Marquette River.

Sulak Campground: From Baldwin, travel west on 52nd Street for 8.5 miles. Turn right and travel north on South Branch Road for 2.5 miles.

Timber Creek Campground: From Baldwin, take M-37 north for 3 miles. Turn west on to U.S. 10 for 7.25 miles.

Gleason's Landing Campground: From Baldwin, travel west on 7th Street for 0.4 miles. Road will curve left onto Cherry Street, turn right at 52nd Street. Continue on 52nd Street for 2 miles to Jenks Road. Go south on Jenks Road for 0.5 miles to Shortcut Road. Turn right onto Shortcut Road for 0.75 miles to 60th St for 0.5 miles then turn right onto S Brooks Road.

This information is provided to you for clarification of specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you can always email me your questions to