Hayes State Park-Irish Hills
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Spend a Day at Hayes State Park in Irish Hills Michigan

The great state of Michigan has so many great places to go on a camping adventure, and in Southcentral Michigan, Hayes State Park offers plenty to do for campers of all ages.

Nestled in the heart of the Irish Hills on the southern shore of Wamplers Lake, Hayes State Park offers visitors all the best ingredients they need for a camping trip.

Across 654 acres, visitors can find a swimming area, a fishing pier, boat launches, a picnic area, geocaching opportunities, and so much more.

You might think that all of Michigan’s best campgrounds can only be found on the shores of the Great Lakes. But, a place like Hayes State Park is a hidden gem that’s waiting for you to experience all that it can offer.

Hayes State Park-Irish Hills
Hayes State Park | photo via acarolynphoto

All About Hayes State Park

Believe it or not, Hayes State Park is one of the oldest parks in the Mitten State. It was established in 1920 and was among 25 parks established by the Michigan State Parks Commission.

Originally called both Adrian State Park and Cedar Hills State Park, it was renamed in 1930 to honor state Sen. Walter J. Hayes, whose family donated land to expand the park.

Park Activities

For those who love being around water, especially in the summertime, a stay at Hayes State Park can be a camper’s delight. The park surrounds Round Lake and offers access to Wamplers Lake, so there are lots of opportunities for swimming, fishing, and other water-based recreation.

The Campgrounds & More

The park has two campgrounds and additional options to appeal to all campers. The Modern Campground has nearly 200 campsites that come with electrical hookups, and several of them are ADA-accessible.

The Rustic Campground has 25 sites, which are well-suited for tent camping and do not have electrical hookups.

Along with the campsites, the park offers four cabins for rent, and each of them can accommodate up to six people. Each cabin is equipped with air conditioning, heat, and electricity and has a fire ring and a picnic table outside.

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Hayes State Park-Irish Hills
Hayes State Park | photo via lacemase906

How to Have Fun at Hayes State Park

The only limit to having a great time at Hayes State Park is your imagination! Want to catch a fish? Want to take a relaxing ride in a kayak? Want to explore nature? Looking to relax and watch the sunset at the end of the day? You can do all of that and so much more!

Cast a Line for a Variety of Fish

If you love fishing, you’re in luck because a stay at Hayes State Park offers access to both Hayes Lake and Wamplers Lake.

Hayes Lake offers the chance to cast lines for a variety of species, including largemouth bass, northern pike, crappie, and bluegill. Wamplers Lake is known for its large population of walleye and other species, such as crappie and bass.

If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one at the park, or you can fish from shore.

Enjoy Nature on a Tranquil Hike

For hiking enthusiasts, there are several hiking trails to explore. The 3.5-mile Hayes Lake Trail winds through woods, wetlands, and fields, giving you a chance to see magnificent natural beauty.

A few of the park’s shorter trails include the Woodland Trail and the Shoreline Trail, both of which offer great views and different experiences.

Find Treasure on a Geocaching Adventure

Geocaching — the treasure-hunting activity that uses GPS to find hidden containers known as geocaches — is a popular activity at Hayes State Park.

It’s a great way to explore the natural areas of the park and its trails while participating in a fun activity, and the whole family can enjoy it.

Sites, such as Geocaching.com, allow visitors to download an app on their phones and pull up maps of parks that show where the geocaches are.

Hayes State Park-Irish Hills
Hayes State Park | photo via daisy.roux.mitten.adventures

Paddle Your Way Across Two Lakes

Like with fishing, campers at the park have access to both Hayes Lake and Wamplers Lake if they want to go paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking. Campers can bring their own watercraft, or they can rent them from the park.

Both lakes offer a little bit of everything. Hayes Lake is a slower-moving, quieter lake that allows for a relaxing paddleboarding or kayaking trip, especially if you have young kids. Wamplers Lake is larger and deeper and is perfect for paddlers and kayakers who are a bit more advanced.

Cool Off in Clear, Refreshing Water

Swimming is always a fun activity for campers, and it’s the perfect way to cool off on a warm summer day too.

Hayes State Park has a designated swimming area with a sandy beach, making it the ideal spot for splashing in the water and laying in the sand. The beach is maintained well, and the water is clean and clear.

Visitors are advised to follow park rules and safety when swimming because there isn’t a lifeguard on duty.

Hayes State Park-Irish Hills
Hayes State Park | photo via rockinthemommin

Let the Kiddos Play at the Playground

The park even has a playground area that’s perfect for kids of all ages to enjoy. The playground is located near the beach, so high-energy youngsters can shuttle back and forth from the beach to the playground.

The playground equipment includes a variety of options for kids to swing and play on, and it’s maintained well. There are picnic tables and benches nearby so that parents can keep an eye on their kiddos while relaxing.

Michigan International Speedway-Booklyn
Michigan International Speedway | photo via lukestier

More Wonders of the Irish Hills to Explore

There’s no doubt that Hayes State Park is a great place to camp, but if you’re looking to get out and explore more of the surrounding area, the Irish Hills are teeming with many great, fun things to do.

Enjoy an Action-Packed Race at MIS

If you’re a fan of NASCAR or just racing in general, the Michigan International Speedway is just a few miles away in Brooklyn Michigan. You can plan a trip to watch one of the many races and events that take place here throughout the summer months.

Explore an Amazing Botanical Garden

Hidden Lake Gardens is another attraction that you really cannot miss while you are in the area. This is the most extensive botanical garden in the entire state, and it sits right in the lush hills. There is a demonstration garden, flowerbeds, a plant conservatory, and an arboretum.

The beauty of these gardens is simply breathtaking. If you are not up for walking through the 755 acres, there is a network of roads that allow you to drive to the various amenities and facilities found within Hidden Lake Gardens.

Indulge in Arts & Culture in Lenawee County

Lenawee County is well known for its thriving arts and culture, including: 

  • The Croswell is the longest-running performing arts center in the area. This theatre has been operating since 1866. Broadway musicals are the specialty here, but you can see plays, fine art exhibitions, musical performances, and children’s theatre as well.
  • The Tecumseh Center for the Arts is another spot where you can attend professional theatre shows.
  • The Lenawee County Historical Museum in Adrian Michigan is a must-see. This Castle-like building has been transformed into a home for Civil War, Underground Railroad, and industrial artifacts.
  • In Hudson, you will find the William G. Thompson House Museum, which offers extensive collections of jade carvings, Japanese woodblock prints, and Chinese porcelain and glass.
Jr's Hometown Grill And Pub-Adrian
JR’s Hometown Grill and Pub | photo via mi_skier_

Best Area Restaurants to Chow Down

While you are visiting Lenawee County, check out some of these great restaurants in the area. When you are in the Irish Hills, you should take time to enjoy some great pub food.

Jerry’s Pub & Restaurant is in Brooklyn and offers a place to eat on the lake and a menu that includes incredible seafood offerings, pizza, and sandwiches.

JR’s Hometown Grill and Pub has three Irish Hills locations in Brooklyn, Adrian, and Tecumseh. It serves some of the best onion rings you will ever eat, along with fall-off-the-bone ribs, bacon-wrapped filets, and much more.

Boot Jack Tavern requires a little further drive, but it’s worth it for classic food served with a Michigan twist. Choose from cast iron pot pie, honey butter salmon, juicy burgers, and more.

FAQs About Hayes State Park

Where is Hayes State Park?

Hayes State Park is located in Onstead Michigan in Southcentral Michigan — about half an hour southeast of Jackson.

Does Hayes State Park have any special rules for camping?

Campers can stay at Hayes State Park for up to 15 consecutive nights, and campsites must be occupied each night. Two vehicles are allowed per site.

Do I need a recreation passport to camp at Hayes State Park?

Yes, the Michigan Recreation Passport is required for all state parks, trails, boat launches, harbors, and more.

Hayesstatepark Stacyskoolie
photo courtesy of @stacyskoolie

Plan Your Trip to Hayes State Park Today

If you’re mapping your next great Michigan camping trip, Hayes State Park is the place to turn a dream into a reality!

Whether you prefer camping in a traditional rustic setting, renting a cabin, or bringing the family RV, Hayes State Park offers all the accommodations you need for the perfect trip.

Spend your time exploring beautiful inland lakes in a canoe or kayak, cool off with a swim in refreshing waters, and leisurely stroll through the park to get in touch with nature.

Michigan’s lakeside parks and campsites get a lot of visitors for good reasons, but this park in the Irish Hills offers plenty to do and all that you need for a good camping experience. So, book your trip today.

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