As a child growing up near Lake Antoine, one of my favorite summer pastimes was biking to the park and spending hours on the beach swimming, riding around the campground, fishing on the pier, and stopping only to snack on slightly squashed PB&Js. After catching the sunset on the lake, we would peddle back home before the streetlights came on.
As a parent, I’ve found that the slice of paradise from my childhood has evolved over the years. It offers my children the same fun and freedom I cherished as a kid but with new-and-improved amenities, recreation, and events.
Lake Antoine Park Partners (LAPP), a 501c3 with a working board of directors, has been quickly advancing its mission to preserve, promote, and protect the park for general public enjoyment. In the five years since the nonprofit was organized, it has met the goals of its first strategic plan and is starting to implement its plan looking toward the next five years.
The group works closely with Dickinson County, the entity responsible for infrastructure, to enhance the park's accessibility, aesthetics, and facilities. The park manager and county superintendent oversee the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the park. This collaboration ensures a seamless experience for visitors.
Milestones and improvements
If you haven’t visited Lake Antoine Park in the past five years, you will notice some pretty impressive changes. Increasing accessibility to the park and beach is a major goal of LAPP, and improvements made so far have significantly enhanced the enjoyment of Lake Antoine Park for everyone.
The first improvement made to the park was rebuilding the beach, which preserved the shoreline and enabled the addition of a ramp leading to a wheelchair-accessible mat that allows all individuals access to the beach and the water. Lake Antoine is the only inland lake in the Upper Peninsula with this type of access. The project was made possible by a recreation grant from The Toro Company, the parent company of local manufacturer BOSS Snowplow.
In a nod to area history, LAPP installed panels on the east side of the concession stand to offer a self-guided tour to visitors. The panels explore the area's past from the Lake Antoine Park perspective. A grant through the Dickinson Area Community Foundation made this educational project possible.
The next five-year plan will expand accessibility, with upgrades outlined for playgrounds and other areas. Look for new signage over the main entrance to make the park more easily identifiable and elevate its status as a recreation destination in our community.
In addition to grants and private donations, LAPP hosts year-round events and fundraisers to raise money to support its mission. Annual events that continue to grow each year include:
A community gem
- The Crafty Flea Market, in conjunction with the Newspapers in Education affiliate in Iron Mountain, is held the Saturday after Labor Day each year.
- Fall Fest is a family event with scavenger hunts, trick or treating, games and more the first weekend in October.
- Lights at the Lake is a festive holiday light show sponsored by area businesses.
- K.O.A.L.A. Kite Festival attracts families from across the region to take to the ice for an impressive show by kiters from Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.
The park has become a much-loved part of the community, covering 51 acres of parkland and the 748-acre lake. From its beautiful sandy beach to fishing, swimming, camping and boating activities, it’s no wonder Lake Antoine is a favorite summer destination enjoyed by families near and far.
Under the dedicated direction of LAPP and with the ongoing support of the County and community, Lake Antoine Park continues to flourish. Its evolution is a testament to what can be achieved when a community comes together for a common cause.
Online reservations are available for the campground as well as pavilion and band shell rentals at https://www.lakeantoine.org/.
Looking to the future, LAPP has ambitious plans to ensure the park remains a vibrant, accessible, and enjoyable space; it's a community hub for recreation and relaxation, a place to connect with our area's beautiful nature. Your involvement and support can help this beautiful gem in our community continue to shine for years to come.
Taylor Andrews is a photographer and writer based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula who focuses on documentary-style photography and storytelling.
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.