Petoskey stone guide to rock hunting the famous Lake Michigan stones.
Petoskey stones are famously hard to find because their unique coral texture is not visible when dry. To find Petoskey stones, you’ll want to find a rocky beach in the Petoskey region. Sandy beaches are great for laying out in the sun, but they aren’t great for rock hunting. It’s easiest to identify Petoskey stones along the tide where the waves make the rocks wet to reveal the rock’s pattern.
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Petoskey Stones are most frequently found in the Northern Michigan areas of Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Northport, Glen Arbor, and Empire. Petoskey stones can be found outside of the Petoskey area, including the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan as well as areas of Michigan east of Mackinac on Lake Huron.
Here is a great guide to the most popular beaches in Northern Michigan to find Petoskey Stones. The more popular areas with high foot traffic mean more competition for rock hunting though, so we included some less traveled areas we’ve found Petoskey stones too. While you’re out there looking for rocks, here are 12 Great Lakes Rocks & Minerals to also look for!
Traverse City Beaches
Here are our top 4 favorite places we have had luck finding Michigan’s state rock, the Petoskey Stone. They are our go-to beaches for Petoskey searching because they tend to be less crowded and the shorelines are full of rocks. Happy hunting!
One of our favorite places to camp in Michigan! The state park has 2 different campgrounds and a separate public beach area. Tannery Creek Campground has 100 campsites and Dunes Campground has 80 campsites. We have had great success finding Petoskey stones at the Tannery Creek Campground beach. It is located about a half a mile away from the Dunes campground and the public beach area. Our personal opinion is that it is usually less crowded and the beach has way more rocks compared to the public beach area. (Of course that can change from year to year!)
Petoskey State Park Campground on Google Maps
Bay Shore is a small community in between Charlevoix and Petoskey. West Park is located at the western end of the Bay Harbor neighborhood. From the parking lot, it’s a .75 mile hike if you do the full loop. Here you will find a quiet shoreline made entirely of rocks! We prefer it because it is a small hidden beach to find Petoskey stones. Find more information about the park here! http://www.michiganwatertrails.org/location.asp?ait=av&aid=1534
Little Traverse Wheelway is the famous Lake Michigan bike trail with over 26 miles of lakeside pathways to ride, walk and explore. What makes this Petoskey path unique is how many miles you can ride right along the water. Wherever you see a rocky shoreline along the trail, the chances are high Petoskey stones are there waiting to be found. We had the best luck in the area near the break wall at Solanus Mission Beach and Bayfront Park West.
This park is actually 45 minutes north of Traverse City and is off the beaten path, especially for a Petoskey stone hunt. The Peterson Point parking lot is on a bluff looking over Lake Michigan, with plenty of picnic tables, a playground, volleyball net, and a staircase through the trees down to the beach. The beach has a completely rocky shoreline and within minutes we found multiple Petoskey Stones.
A beautiful, clear, turquoise colored inland lake in between Traverse City and Charlevoix. We are lucky enough to have friends that live on Elk Lake. They have their own private beach and along the shoreline, we have found so many Petoskey stones. Here we have also found Leland Blue stones. The northern Michigan town of Leland was once home to the smelting industry. Smelting is a process of applying heat to extract metals from its ore and a leftover by product from the smelting process is a glass-like matter called slag. Around 1885 when the industry failed because of large overhead costs, the remains of the slag were dumped into the harbor. Leland Blue is a mix of blue glass with other chemicals. It can also be found in shades of green, purple, or gray. So as you’re hunting for Petoskey stones, keep an eye out for a Leland Blue stone!