STERLING STATE PARK beach in Michigan

Sterling State Park in Michigan – The Complete Guide

Situated along the sandy shores of Lake Erie, Sterling State Park is a top destination for swimming, boating, fishing, camping, and hiking. This state park spans over 1,300 acres, offering beautiful beaches and abundant recreation opportunities.

Near Monroe, MI and the Ohio border, Sterling State Park makes for an easy weekend escape from Detroit. This guide covers everything you need to know to plan your perfect Sterling trip.

Featuring nearly two miles of sandy beach along Lake Erie, Sterling State Park is a popular warm-weather destination in southeast Michigan. The 1,300 acre state park contains campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, and a recreational harbor providing access to swimming, boating, fishing and more.

Inland from the beach, the park features scenic wetlands, forests, and an extensive trail system running over 7 miles in length. The diverse ecosystems provide opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, and cycling. An excellent family-friendly park, Sterling State Park makes for an easy weekend getaway or day trip.

Getting to Sterling State Park

Located 45 minutes southwest of Detroit near Monroe, Sterling State Park offers convenient access to beach and water activities just beyond the metro area. Visitors flock to take advantage of the park’s Lake Erie beachfront, which is much warmer and calmer than Michigan’s western Lake Michigan coast.

Sterling State Park is conveniently located right off major highways in southeast Michigan.

Address: 2800 State Park Road, Monroe, MI 48162

From Detroit: 45 minutes, 35 miles
From Ann Arbor: 1 hour 10 minutes, 55 miles
From Toledo: 50 minutes, 45 miles

Take I-75 to exit 7 for Luna Pier Rd. Head east and turn right on Stoney Creek Rd. Follow for 1.5 miles and turn left onto State Park Rd to enter the park.

Sterling State Park Hours & Fees

Park Hours: 8am – 10pm daily

Day Use Fees:

  • Daily Vehicle Permit – $9
  • Annual Michigan Recreation Passport – $12

Campground Fees:

  • Modern site – $31/night
  • Mini Cabin – $120/night

Purchase day passes and camping reservations online through Michigan DNR.

Sterling State Park Beaches

The main attraction at Sterling State Park is its nearly two-mile long sandy beach along Lake Erie. Beach goers can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing and picnicking.

Lifeguards are on duty daily in summer months. Swim only within designated areas marked by buoys and be aware of changing water conditions.

The beach area has restrooms, picnic tables, grills, a playground and snack bar. Beach wheelchairs are available at the ranger station. No pets are allowed on the beaches.

Alcohol is prohibited in day use areas between April 1 and Labor Day without a permit. Glass is banned on the beach year-round.

Boating & Fishing at Sterling State Park

With a protected harbor and boat launch, Sterling State Park provides excellent Lake Erie boating and fishing access.

The newly renovated harbor contains 110 slips to dock boats up to 40 feet long. Fuel and pump-out services are available.

The double-lane paved boat launch can accommodate large boats and personal watercraft. It’s located near the beach area.

Fishing for walleye, bass, perch, and pike is popular off the fishing pier and by boat. Ohio fishing licenses are required.

Sterling State Park Campground

Sterling State Park has an excellent rustic campground nestled in the woods between the beach and marshes. It contains 348 campsites suitable for tents and RVs up to 40 feet long.

The campground is divided into two loops with electrical sites available. Each loop has a modern bathhouse. Campers can enjoy conveniences like free WiFi, dump station, playgrounds and rec hall.

In addition to campsites, the campground features 5 rental mini-cabins that sleep up to 6 people and are perfect for those without an RV or tent.

Pets are permitted at campsites but not in buildings, on beaches, or in cabins. Reserve sites early through the DNR.

Hiking Trails at Sterling State Park

Over 7 miles of hiking trails weave through the diverse ecosystems at Sterling State Park. The extensive trail network features:

  • 1.5 mile paved bike path perfect for families
  • Boardwalks through scenic wetland areas
  • Paths leading to secluded Lake Erie beach areas
  • Route along the picturesque Sterling Marsh
  • Observation platforms overlooking the marsh

Highlights include the 1-mile Nature Trail and 1.5-mile Ridge Trail offering the best marsh views.

Dogs are welcome on leashes no longer than 6 feet. Always clean up after pets. Bikes are allowed on designated paved trails only.

Sterling State Park Activities

In addition to swimming, boating, fishing and camping, Sterling State Park offers a variety of activities:

  • Picnicking in the day use area
  • 18-hole disc golf course
  • Bird watching for over 200 species
  • Kayak and canoe rentals
  • Guided bog walks and nature programs
  • Junior ranger programs for kids
  • Basketball and volleyball courts
  • Playgrounds and game areas

Plan Your Sterling State Park Visit

To make the most of your trip, keep these tips in mind when visiting Sterling State Park:

  • Reserve campsites well in advance, especially summer weekends
  • Visit in May/June or September for smaller crowds
  • Bring water shoes for swimming on rocky lake bottom
  • Pack sunscreen and bug spray
  • Stop for firewood outside the park to avoid pest risks
  • Fill up on gas and supplies in nearby Luna Pier
  • Obey lifeguard instructions in designated swim areas
  • Leash and clean up after pets

With wooded trails, marshland views, a scenic harbor and miles of beachfront, Sterling State Park offers incredible diversity. Follow this guide to help plan an enjoyable Michigan state park getaway.

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