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Echo Valley Forest Reserve

· Empire, Leelanau, Michigan
40 acres hosted by Liana M.
1 RV/tent site
Off-leash friendly
Pets can be off-leash at this Hipcamp.
All to yourself
100% of recent Hipcampers say this Hipcamp felt private.
Primitive camping
Best for self-contained campers. There are no toilets, showers, or potable water at this Hipcamp.
Liana is a Star Host
Star Hosts are highly rated, responsive, and committed to providing incredible experiences.
Echo Valley Forest Reserve is a backcountry tent site located deep within hardwood forest near the center of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, five minutes from Empire Beach, Glen Haven, and Glen Arbor, and just a mile south of Big Glen Lake. This site is completely private, with only one site rented at a time, in the center of a 40-acre parcel, by thousands of acres of National Lakeshore and private forested land. It is abundant with wildlife; listen for thrush, barred owls, ravens, and coyotes. Walk the trails on the property, cook dinner over a wood fire and watch the stars come out, or enjoy fine dining La Becasse or Funistrada, just 2 miles from the site, or a burger at the Friendly Tavern in Empire or Art's Bar in Glen Arbor, both about 5 miles away. Swim at Old Settler's Park on Big Glen or drive to several Lake Michigan beaches in 5 minutes. The camp site is unmaintained and there is no water or toilet, but it is a spot to pitch a tent and experience the northern forest without the filter of a busy campground. We have just finished installing a graveled drive up the steep hill that leads up to the camp site, so you no longer have to walk up (YEY!). We ask that you please stay on the gravel, and do not drive around the camp in order to keep it as wild as possible. There is room for 2 or 3 cars to park next to camp. Keep in mind it is deep in the woods, so bring a flashlight and perhaps some LED lanterns. You can explore the property by hiking west from the camp. There is a rough trail from the camp site that runs up a valley to the hill top with treed views of Big Glen Lake and evening sunshine. The trails are being developed (your foot traffic helps!) so keep an eye out for the pink flagging tape. There is also a big kettle hole formed by glacial ice deposits across the road from the driveway, about 150 feet to the north (no trail).  There are a ton of great activities close to the camp. Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore has great beaches, swimming, and hiking. Empire Beach is six miles and Glen Haven is 8 miles away. The Heritage Trail in Glen Arbor is a road bike trail that runs from Empire to Bohemian Rd. There are a few mountain bike trails in the area as well (Palmer Woods in Glen Arbor, Arcadia Bluffs trail south of Frankfort, etc). Big Glen access is just a couple miles from the camp at Old Settler Park or at then end of Agnew St (by Funistrada). There isn't a beach on Big Glen but you can swim or hand-launch a boat. There are two nearby restaurants, La Becasse (French) and Trattoria Funistrada (Italian), as well as bar food in Empire and Glen Arbor. VEHICLE ACCESS - Welcome to Northern Michigan! The camp is accessed off Echo Valley Road, which is a rough, seasonal, unmaintained two-track road that can be sandy, rocky, and rutted. If you have 2-wheel drive, I recommend accessing Echo Valley Road from Benzonia Trail end. Most vehicles are fine on Echo Valley Rd if you drive mindfully. I do not recommend driving an RV or towing a fifth-wheel down Echo Valley Road.  FIRES AND WOODS - Keep fires in the pit or ring, and always put out completely before leaving the site. We have had some very dry summers lately, as well as wildfires - if you get a Fire Ban notification from HipCamp, because the local Fire Department has issued it due to high risk of wildfire. Please do not bring wood from home. Moving firewood is one of the main ways tree pests and diseases are introduced to a region, resulting in a huge loss for our forests (emerald ash borer, beech bark disease). If you would like pre-cut firewood there are several roadside stands on Benzonia Trail and Plowman Road. Please do not cut into live trees! SAFETY - We have BLACK BEAR and other curious critters. Practice bear-safe camping by storing food and anything "smelly" in a bear can, by hanging it, or in your car when you are sleeping or not on site. Do not store food in your tent or the critters will come scratching around. Leelanau County also has deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Check for ticks daily! CONTACT - Please TEXT, or message me on HipCamp, if you have any questions of if you need directions or recommendations.Site 1 is the only site at Echo Valley Forest Reserve. It is a partially wooded, 2-acre area with a meadow, two fire pits with metal grates on top, lots of hammock trees, and small deck for open air camping. There is a flattened tent site at the top of the meadow with starry views and lots of unimproved tent site options. The camp is completely private and you will have the entire area to yourself. There is a storage bin with some basics that vary depending what people leave, and what people use (usually but not always, a wire rack for cooking, tin foil, lighters and matches, hand saw, utensils, batteries, bug spray, waterproofing spray, etc...). It gets dark in the woods, so bring a flashlight and perhaps some LED lanterns. There is no water or toilet, and the site is not maintained regularly.
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Empire, Leelanau, Michigan, United StatesTraditional, ancestral territory of Odawa First Nations according to To respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Liana M.Joined in December 2017
94 ratings · 73 reviews
Stephanie W.recommends
October 18, 2023
Forest Ridge Site
Keep this place a secret!!
Omg!!! Loved this spot!! Keep this place a secret. It’s perfectly situated in the woods with no neighbors nearby and no noise minus nature. Yet super quick to get to Empire and Glen Arbor. We camped in October and there was still plenty of kindling and wood which was helpful!! The platform served as a station for cooking, washing dishes, dog eating area. The campsite is large but it was just my hubs and me plus our dogs. The trails on the property are nice and we meandered around them and on the road cause we saw zero traffic. Needless to say, we will definitely be back. This is ideal for our style of camping!!! And even without water and a bathroom, there’s a public bathroom in Glen Arbor that worked perfectly for certain needs.
Willem R.recommends
October 16, 2023
Forest Ridge Site
Well kept site with plenty of space and tree cover.
Ben S.recommends
October 15, 2023
Forest Ridge Site
Gorgeous site. Feels off the beaten track but is really close to all the park has to offer.
Kara T.recommends
October 1, 2023
Forest Ridge Site
Great stay
I loved being here - the experience was great. Not the easiest to find, but following directions exactly as she wrote them made it possible. I would make sure to take a car with a high rise and good tires. We saw no one, heard many animals, and our dog and us had the best time. It was exactly as described and reminded me of “backcountry” camp sites from the state. It was everything promised!
Mike T.recommends
September 10, 2023
Forest Ridge Site
Great secluded spot
Super nice spot, secluded but easy enough to find. The directions in the listing are spot on, so just follow those and you’ll be all set. When I clicked on “get directions with apple maps” it took me somewhere a few miles away for whatever reason, no fault of the owner. Just get yourself to Benzonia and echo lake road and follow the hosts directions from there. She was helpful as we arrived around 10pm in the dark.
Joy D.recommends
August 24, 2023
Forest Ridge Site
We loved camping here! Its the perfect spot if you are looking to feel completely secluded, yet be within 15 min to glen arbor and empire and the endless beautiful nature in this area! Its down a little dirt road that my 2wd truck had no problem with. Instructions to the site were clear and we found it easily. We literally did not hear any evidence of other people/traffic/civilization while we were here:) my cell service was not available on site, however would come in when i got back to the main road. If you go in mid agust there will be an explosion of black berries on the edge of the beautiful wildflower meadow at the back of the site. We were there the first week of August and the black berries were just starting. We really appreciated the grill cover for the fire pit, otherwise there were not too many amenities, which is just the way we like it. I will be back next summer;)
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