Prime Pickings

There are Petoskey stones lying on beaches from Frankfort to Alpena. But some spots are better bets.
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Petoskey Stones
Photography by Ken Scott Photography

Officially adopted as Michigan’s state stone in 1965, Petoskeys are actually petrified coral, leftover fragments of the reefs that existed 350 million years ago during the Devonian Period when salty warm-water seas covered the northern half of the state. Eventually layers of sediment covered the Hexagonaria coral, and its iconic six-sided pattern was preserved when the sediment was compacted into stratified rock.

Here’s where to seek that perfect honeycomb prize.

Barnes County Park. This 120-acre unit of Antrim County is also along US-31 and includes more than a quarter mile of beautiful beach sprinkled with patches of pebbles and stones. Barnes County Park is posted at the junction of US-31 and M-88 in Eastport. For more information, call the Antrim County Conservation District (231-533-8363).

Fisherman’s Island State Park. This 2,678-acre park just south of Charlevoix features five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, most of it cobbled beach. Hunting for a Petoskey is so popular here that the park offers a handout. The best spot in the park is its namesake island which can now can be reached on foot. Find it posted along US-31 five miles south of Charlevoix (231-547-6641).

Lighthouse Park. This Peninsula Township park preserves the tip of Old Mission Peninsula, an area of cobbled beaches crowned by the lighthouse built in 1870. Lighthouse Park is at the north end of M-37, 22 miles from Traverse City. For more information on the park contact the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-872-8377).

Peterson Park. This Leelanau Peninsula park is little more than a small deck on the edge of the bluff, overlooking the Manitou and Fox Islands, and a stairway that descends to Lake Michigan. Its shoreline is a narrow cobblestone beach.

To reach Peterson Park from Northport, head west on Melkild Road and within two miles turn north on Foxview Drive. The entrance is at the corner of Foxview Drive and Peterson Park Road (231-386-5138).

Petoskey State Park. When a state park and the adjacent city are both named after our state stone, enough said. The 303-acre state park has almost two miles of shoreline in the heart of Little Traverse Bay, ground zero for Petoskey stone hunters. If you find a trophy head over to Bailey’s Place Petoskey Stones & Stuff (231-347-8043) on US-31 to have it rated. Petoskey State Park (231-347-2311) is 1.5 miles north of US-31 on M-119.

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