Power Island is Tranquil Paradise

TranquilityLooking to get away from it all? Consider historic Power Island.

This 200-acre nature preserve features gorgeous waterfront views of Grand Traverse Bay and over five miles of hiking trails. Four rustic campsites are available on one-acre Bassett Island, which is connected to Power Island via an isthmus.

The land is completely undeveloped except for a summer residence for the island’s park ranger. Its tranquility and natural beauty comes with a unique and storied history.

It’s been known as Marion Island and for a time as Ford Island, during the period of time the property was owned by Henry Ford. The auto magnate entertained many notable pioneers of industry and dignitaries on the island during his ownership from 1917 to 1944.

The view of Power Island from Bassett Island.
The view of Power Island from Bassett Island.

In the early 1900s, Bassett Island was the site of a dance hall. Park Ranger and Shuttle Captain Fred Tank said a local steamship company used to have a daily run from Traverse City to Petoskey with a number of stops in between.

“The island here became a stop for them on their daily run, so they built a dance hall and picnic grounds,” Tank said.

On summer weekends, Tank said the ship would bring in an entire orchestra to play. While you won’t find an orchestra today, Power Island is a popular spot for boaters to congregate. Tank said on a nice weekend day, it’s not unusual to see upwards of 100 boats dropping anchor on the shores of the island.

Kayakers and geocachers are other frequent visitors. The paddle to Power Island from Bowers Harbor is about 2 ½ miles, making for a decent 5-mile round trip. According to Geocaching.com, the island boasts the very first Michigan geocache to be placed. Tank said it’s something of a pilgrimage for geocaching hobbyists.

As far as wildlife, there’s a small population of deer on the island, as well as a number of small rodents and snakes. A wide variety of birds also call the island home.

One of the island's few inhabitants.
One of the island’s few inhabitants.

This natural gem is maintained by the Grand Traverse County Parks Department, which now offers a ferry shuttle service from the Bowers Harbor boat launch.

You can make reservations to get to the island by calling 231-922-4818. Tank said the shuttle will typically operate from the last week of May, through the end of or early October, depending on weather conditions.

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Get back to undisturbed nature and plan a day trip to explore beautiful Power Island. You’ll want to wear hiking shoes or sandals and plan to pack any food or drink you’ll need for the duration of your stay. There is no refuse service on the island, so you’ll also need a bag to take any trash back with you.

Photo credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

 

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