A Comprehensive Guide To PJ Hoffmaster State Park: Everything You Need To Know

We love P.J. Hoffmaster State Park – such a great place. It’s so beautiful, and a perfect example of the pride that Michigan takes in its campgrounds, so well-kept.

Also known as Hoffmaster State Park, it’s a fabulous place to go camping and enjoy the great outdoors, whether as a couple or as a family. And, you can even bring your dog, too!


There are three miles of beautiful sandy beach alongside Lake Michigan, where the kids can run around and enjoy being young and on vacation.

And there are some great hiking trails to enjoy as well. (The dogs are also allowed on the beach, but they have to remain on a leash.)

Having enjoyed trips to southwest Michigan as a kid, including to P.J. Hoffmaster, it’s been so great to just get back out there again, with the family in tow.

We took a tour of Michigan recently, making a point of stopping at Hoffmaster, and we’re already planning our next strip!

Coming Up

In this article, we’re gonna give you everything you need to know to have the best possible visit to Hoffmaster, and really make the most of everything it has to offer.

We’ll kick things off by discussing the best time to visit, before describing how the park is laid out, and touching on the sort of price range you’ll be looking at.

Then we’ll go onto the best campsites, followed by the best hiking trails.

And we’ll even throw in a quick run-through of some great places nearby to visit before wrapping up.

And without further ado, let’s get straight to it!

Bodega Bay Camping. RV Lifestyle Experts

Best Season For Visiting Hoffmaster State Park

If you want to get there when the weather is at its best, that would be summer time, specifically June through September.

It’s kinda cold in early summer, however, so the ideal time would be September.

That’s because in September the days are still wonderfully warm, while the nights can often be up 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is so good for sitting around the campfire enjoying s’mores and the like.

And it’s also the start of fall, which brings about a new spectrum of color on the trails.

If you want to avoid the crowds, however, you may prefer to go in the fringe months of May or October.

That said, though, you can expect the night temperatures to drop to as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

So if you do go then, you may be more comfortable in a vacation rental or a hotel rather than in a tent.

It’s also worth noting at this point, as you may already imagine, that the Hoffmaster campground tends to get more crowded on the weekends, especially in the summer.

You will generally find a mass exodus on Sunday mornings, which means you may be able to enjoy relative peace on the following weekdays.

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How The Hoffmaster State Park Is Laid Out

We recommend that you get yourself a map of Hoffmaster State Park from one of the visitor centers when you get there.

But to give you an idea of what to expect, basically the campground loops are situated at the north side of the park, while on the south side of the park lies the main visitor, the Gillette Visitor Center.

The hiking trails are easy to access at various junctures around Hoffmaster, and you can connect loops of trails along the beach.

How Much Does It Cost To Stay There

If you want to go camping at P.J. Hoffmaster, the cost you can expect to pay can vary according to both the site location and the time of year.

We’re not going to quote precise costs here, in case they change over time, but as a general rule, you can expect to pay less than $50 per night, even during the peak times of summer and fall.

The campsites can also range in size. For instance, some sites only allow the space for a tent, whereas others can fit a 50-foot RV or trailer.

However, the good news is that the size of the site does not affect the fee.

Most of the campsites can receive an electricity supply, and most will feature both a 30 amp and a 50 amp box.

The Best Campsites In The Hoffmaster State Park

A Comprehensive Guide To PJ Hoffmaster State Park: Everything You Need To Know

P.J. Hoffmaster’s campground is one of the biggest draws to the park.

You get to stay right in Hoffmaster State Park for a very reasonable nightly fee.

There are a staggering 293 campsites in the campground in total, split into two main loops.

Our favorite loop is with the sites 1 through 132 because it’s closer to both the hiking trails and the beach.

And if you want to be as close as possible to the beach, we recommend sites 25 through 60, since they are all within a quarter mile to the lake.

To ensure you get a space on this loop, you should make an online reservation at least two weeks ahead of time.

There are only 4 sites that aren’t hooked up to the electricity grid, and most of them have a 50 amp service in addition to the usual 30 amp service.

Each loop has nice bathrooms and individual shower stalls which are free of charge for anyone to use. And they are kept very clean.

And you will also find unthreaded potable water spigots at various points throughout the camping area.

Unfortunately, none of the sites have water or sewer hookups, but there is a handy dump station near the entrance of Hoffmaster, which also has drinking water available.

It’s not too noisy, thanks to a scattering of trees reducing campground noise.

The trees don’t really offer much privacy, however, since all of the sites are lined up without space for trees in between.

Morro Bay Camping. RV Lifestyle Experts

The Best Hiking Trails In Hoffmaster State Park

There are beautiful forests and climbing sand dunes to enjoy in P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, with three main hiking trails, namely Black Creek Trail, the Walk-A-Mile Trail, and the Homestead Trail.

All of these trails are available to download on the hiking app AllTrails.

But it shouldn’t really be necessary because all the trails are very clearly marked.

Here’s a walk-through. (Pun intended!)

1. Black Creek Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.7 mile loop
Dogs Allowed: Yes

Both campground loops provide easy access to this trail through the woods along Black Creek.

We love it – you can see such a nice range of different landscapes as you go through.

It’s also a great trail for teaching the kids about nature, since there are plenty of pretty wildflowers along the way.

You can access the beach at various spots throughout the trail, and you should definitely check out the dunes to Lake Michigan while there.

2. Walk-A-Mile Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.2 mile loop from camp, or 1.6 mile loop from parking lot
Dogs Allowed: Yes

This trail is especially pretty during fall, and it’s one of our favorites.

It’s easy to get to, 0.6 miles from the campground, or for even easier access, from the parking area with the brown trailhead sign positioned on the beach at the bottom of a sand dune.

This trail features both forest and beach scenery, and if you wish you can even go for a swim in Lake Michigan mid-hike!

When we go, we like to have a nice picnic on the beach.

It’s especially beautiful at sunset, so be sure to bring your camera!

3. Homestead Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.2 mile loop
Dogs Allowed: Yes

This is one of the most popular trails of Hoffmaster State Park.

It’s in the Southern part, and it includes 0.5 miles along the beach, and you’ll have to climb a sand dune before a run down to the water.

Dune climbing is an amazing workout, and this way you get to cool off by jumping in the lake at the end – It’s so much fun!

To get to the trail from the campground, all you have to do is drive 1.5 miles south to the main visitor center, the Gillette Visitor Center parking area. 

Where Best To Venture To During Your Stay

If you’re going to be staying a while, we recommend heading over to:

  • The old town of Holland, 40 minutes away, which was built by the Dutch in the mid 1800s, with pretty Ottawa Beach just north of the town.
  • Grand Rapids, also just 40 minutes, the 2nd largest city in Michigan, which hosts the event ArtPrize in the last 2 weeks of September.

Final Words

So, to sum up, the best time to come to Hoffmaster State Park is during the summer.

The campsites are well-equipped, but you should reserve your spot on the campsite two weeks ahead of time in order to avoid disappointment.

There are 3 great hiking trails to enjoy, and there’s also the Grand Rapids and Ottawa Beach nearby, too.


Eddie Meyers
author avatar
Eddie Meyers
My name is Eddie, and I am an RV enthusiast! I have enjoyed traveling all my life, and want to give my family the same opportunities to see as much of the world as possible. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered how great RVs can be for vacations with a young family. Here at RV Lifestyle Experts, I want to share my experiences, the tips I’ve picked up along the way. I hope that our guides can encourage you to try the RV lifestyle. I promise you that you won’t regret it!

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