trail through Huron-Manistee National Forest

Photograph courtesy of Roman Kahler

Lake County

Lake County is located half way between the southern state line and the Mackinac Bridge and is surrounded by the Huron-Manistee National Forest. This mostly rural county is known as a beautiful place to live, hike, paddle, and vacation. From Baldwin and historic Idlewild in the southern part of the county to Luther in the north, Lake County is a region rich in local pride and natural beauty.

Baldwin is a small village located on the Baldwin River on the edge of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. The county seat, Baldwin is home to some of the best canoe access in the area. Canoers fill the village in the summer for its easy access to multiple rivers and other tourists flock for the famous Blessing of the Bikes or to visit the Shrine of the Pines.

Idlewild is largely a leisure community, a favorite vacation spot and year-round home for many retirees. It was one of the few resort towns open to African American property owners and vacationers in early 1900’s. Today Idlewild remains an idyllic place at the headwaters of the Pere Marquete river.

Irons is a small town located in the northern part of Lake County and sits near many lakes, rivers, and streams. The nearby Big Manistee River is one of the top fishing rivers in the nation for coho, steelhead, trout, and perch.


Lake County Historical Society

Shrine of the Pines

Luther Museum 231.797.5398


Blessing of the Bikes (May 18-20, 2018)

Luther Days (June 29-July 1, 2018)

Irons Flea Roast (June 21-24, 2018)

Troutarama (July 20-22, 2018)

Pickle Fest

Cowboy Weekend

Lake County Outdoor Expo

Summer Oasis

Five Cap, Inc. plans and evaluates long and short range programs, mobilizes public and private resources of anti-poverty programs, serves as an advocate of the poor, adopts program priorities, and conducts anti-poverty programs financed through the Community Services Block Grant and other resources.

Toys for Tots & Gifts for Teens distributes toys and gifts to low-income families just before Christmas so that every child has a gift under their tree for Christmas morning.

Walk for Warmth brings communities together to raise funds to help low-income families and seniors with heating costs.

St. Ann’s Catholic Church provides many services to the community including senior services, which provides the older population in Lake County with the resources to stay independent and in their homes. It offers 4 senior centers in Lake County, home delivered meals, homemaker services, outreach services, chore worker, medical transportation, and communal meal sites.

The Bread of Life Pantry works to raise money to give back to Lake County citizens.

MSU Extension—Lake County helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities, and businesses.

Pathfinder Community Library offers huge selection of books, hundreds of DVD’s, community events, and fundraisers.

Chase Public Library offers a summer long reading program, arts, computers for kids homework, and many other family programs.

Luther Area Library offers many programs for families and kids.

Irons Area Tourist Association is a group of volunteers who maintain local trails. They host the annual Flea Roast and Ox Market.

The Rotary Club of Baldwin is both a volunteer organization and a social club. One of their programs is “Books for Kids,” a program that provides new paperback books free of charge to families who cannot afford them.

Baldwin Lions Club conducts vision and health screenings, builds parks, supports eye hospitals, awards scholarships, assists youth, provides disaster relief.

AMVET Riders Baldwin Post 1988 supports all American veterans who serve honorably and works to improve the quality of life for them, their families, and their communities through leadership, advocacy, and service.

Lake County Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with people in need to provide housing.

Holiday Helpers (Lake County Dept. Of Human Services) supplies money, goods, and services to the poor, organizes a holiday season adopt-a-family program, and takes donations for kids gifts for Christmas. 231.745.8159

Lake County Pet Adoption League works to help find homes for homeless animals at the local dog pound, to promote the spaying and neutering of animals, and to further education especially in the area of proper pet care.

Lake County Community Foundation is an affiliate of Fremont Area Community Foundation and addresses the community’s needs through grant awards in human services, education, health, community development, and culture.

Idlewild Community Development Corporation preserves the history and legacy of Idlewild, both as a historic community and as a destination for family fun.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Michigan provides underprivileged, foster, and other at-risk children a rewarding and educational camping experience through their Odd Fellow Rebekah Camp on Big Star Lake.

Idlewild African American Chamber of Commerce promotes existing local businesses and works to attract new ones to the Lake County.

Lake Newaygo Branch of NAACP: Their mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons, and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is headquartered in Manistee and includes Lake County.

Trail Systems

Lake County is best known for its trail systems including ORV, motorbike, walking, bicycle, and groomed snowmobile trails. Check out the map on the Lake County Trails website. Favorites include:

  • Little Manistee Trail: a 46 mile loop, with single tracks for bikes and 72” wide or ORV’s.
  • Tin Cup: a 21 mile, all-sport trail
  • Lincoln Hills: a 21 mile trail with single track and 72” wide paths for ORV’s
  • Little O: a 41 mile, 50” wide single track for bikes and ORVs


Lake County has 116 lakes of all shapes, depths, and sizes. Wolf Lake and Big Star Lake are the largest.

The Pere Marquette River, Pine River, Little Manistee River, and Baldwin River also run through the Lake County with several streams connected to each.

Local rivers offer multiple boat launches including 8 on the Pere Marquette River, 6 on the Pine River, 3 on the Manistee River, and 2 on the Baldwin River. Boat launches for the lakes are on Wolf Lake, Big Star Lake, North Lake, Harper Lake, Switzer Lake, Reed Lake, Paradise Lake, Leverenze Lake, Bass Lake, Lake Olga, Elbow Lake, and Sand Lake.

Idlewild Lake, Wolf Lake, and Big Star Lake have public beaches.


Lake County has many campgrounds, some rustic, and some with more amenities.


Marquette Trails Golf Course is located on 76th Street in southern Lake County.

Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital – Hello West Michigan Member

Baldwin Family Health Care

District Health Department #10 works to promote and enhance the health of the communities and environment through protection, prevention, and intervention.

West Michigan Community Mental Health System

PM Oaks RV Resort is in Lake Township near Big Star Lake. Closed in the winter months, it is primarily a retirement community for snow birds.

Oakwood Manor is within walking distance of downtown Baldwin and is a Rural Development Elderly Community serving those 62 years old or older and the disabled of any age.

Baldwin Housing Commission

Idlewild Gardens is in the historic Idlewild Michigan and is a USDA-RD-HUD elderly community designed for those who are at least 62 years old and the disabled of any age. It is located within walking distance of Idlewild Lake, the Post Office, and the historic Red Rooster Restaurant.

Lake County has a handful of assisted living/adult foster care facilities as well in the outlying areas.

Did you know?

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