Metal Detecting in Michigan: A Complete Guide for 2022

Wondering how to start your metal detecting adventure in Michigan? Well! you’ve come to the right place.

When it comes to treasure hunting and metal detecting, Michigan is one of the top states in the US. The weather is ideal for metal detecting, and the area is rich with gold and undiscovered riches. The adventure is fascinating, and you never know if you’ll uncover jewelry, coins, historical artifacts, or even gold nuggets. However, it’s critical to do your homework and learn about the state and federal rules governing metal detecting in The Great Lake State.

Metal detecting laws in Michigan

Metal detecting in Michigan, like every other state, is governed by its own set of rules and regulations. The good news for Michigan residents is that metal detecting is recognized as a recreational activity or leisure hobby by the Michigan government. This means as long as you do not damage the natural and cultural resources in Michigan, you are perfectly allowed to detect treasure in Michigan public lands.

Also, a thing to remember while metal detecting in Michigan is that even though metal detecting is legal on public lands, you may only collect modern money, but coins and artifacts more than 100 years old may not be collected.

Metal detectors are permitted in built campgrounds and picnic areas in Michigan unless they are specifically prohibited. Metal detecting would be prohibited in a campground or picnic area if archaeological remains were discovered there before. Furthermore, metal detecting for coins is legal, but gold prospecting is subject to mining regulations in Michigan. However, please be aware that government authorities in Michigan have not yet identified every archaeological site on public land, so you may come upon undiscovered remains.

Archaeological remains, whether known or undiscovered, on the federal territory are protected by law in Michigan. If you come across such remains, leave them undisturbed, discontinue metal detecting in the area, and contact the nearest Forest Service office.

As a responsible metal detectorist, you will also need to understand the law regarding private properties. Since most of the land in Michigan is considered private property, you will need the landowner’s permission to detect or dig treasure.

All in all, it is crucial to understand the laws and follow them while metal detecting in Michigan. Breaking these laws will have serious repercussions including fines or at worst jail time. Therefore, if you are planning to detect in the new location in Michigan, contacting the city, county, and state officials to ensure you’re following all pertinent laws is a good idea.

Related: Dumpster Diving in Michigan: A Comprehensive Guide

Is it legal to metal detect in Michigan?

Yes, it is legal to metal detect in Michigan. However, there are limitations to the legalities. As mentioned earlier, it is legal to go metal detecting in public lands as long as you do not damage the natural and cultural resources in Michigan state parks or federal lands. However, some cities like Mason, MI has their own set of rules for metal detecting. For example: In Mason, no person shall use metal detectors in any turf areas within the County park system.

Also bear in mind, that metal detecting on Trust’s land is also illegal in Michigan without the authorized permit.

All in all, even though metal detecting laws are really lenient in Michigan, I would highly recommend you to call and ask the relevant local authority if it is okay to metal detect on their land.

Where can you metal detect in Michigan?

There are several places to go metal detecting in Michigan. If you live in Michigan, though, one of the first places to go metal detecting is your hometown. Not only would knowing the history of the location save you time, but it will also allow you to hunt for tremendous treasure. The locations you choose to metal detect, as well as the history of the location, will determine what you uncover and how valuable it is. Overall, when compared to detecting on random lands, metal detecting with historical studies will produce better results.

Some of the best places you can go for metal detecting in Michigan are:

  1. Abandoned Buildings, Parks, and Structures
  2. State Parks
  3. Old Train Routes
  4. Trails and Forests
  5. Natural Disaster Destruction Sites
  6. Michigan Beaches, Rivers, Lakes, and Creeks
  7. Ghost towns

Is there any buried treasure in Michigan?

Michigan is not only a beautiful state with amazing landscapes but it also has a rich history and chronicles. Michigan is said to have a great amount of buried treasure that dates back to as far as the 1600s. These are still out there, just waiting to be discovered! Although a lot of these stories lack supporting evidence, treasure hunters and metal detectorists are positive that they’ll find it one day.

Some of the most popular lost or hidden treasures in Michigan are:

Drummond Island Buried TreasureGeneral Monk, the commander of the British garrison on Drummond Island, is said to have hidden a treasure on the island in Lake Huron. According to legend, he buried a big iron chest with army cash near the fort. The fort was situated on the island’s southwest coast.
The Henry Dansman Hidden TreasureThis Treasure is said to be hidden on county route 65 between Lake August and Posen. Dansman was a wealthy farmer who had a hoard of diamonds, gold, and silver coins buried on his land. It is yet to be discovered!
North Fox Island Buried TreasureNorth Fox Island, off the coast of Grand Traverse Bay, was the site of a $100,000 buried treasure discovered in 1905. The treasure was made up of gold and silver coins from Spain. There are speculations that there are additional treasures hidden there.
Ropes Gold Mine Treasure HubIshpeming is three miles to the northeast. This gold mine has been abandoned since the 1600s. But metal detectorists still claim to find gold nuggets from this site.
Cat Head Point Buried TreasureOn county route 201, near Northport, there are rumored valuables buried by looters during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The money was stolen from a number of banks and is yet to be discovered.

Metal detecting on Michigan Beaches

Michigan is home to 3288 miles of freshwater coastline. Finding lost jewelry and money is easy with metal detecting on Michigan beaches. As a result, you’ll see a lot of fellow metal detectorists on Michigan beaches in the evening for their metal detecting experience.

Metal detecting is permissible on public Michigan beaches as of the time of writing. However, if you discover anything of archaeological significance, the state of Michigan has the right to seize it.

In Michigan, some of the most well-known beaches for metal detecting are:

  1. Grand Haven State Park Beach (Lake Michigan, Grand Haven)
  2. Twelvemile Beach (Lake Superior, Munising)
  3. Belle Isle Beach (Detroit River, Detroit)
  4. Empire Beach (Lake Michigan, Empire)
  5. Stearns Park Beach (Lake Michigan, Ludington)

Metal detecting in Michigan Rivers

Michigan is rich in rivers and creeks as well as large lakes and coasts. It is an excellent state to go metal detecting because it has multiple rivers, creeks, and streams. When detecting in rivers and streams, make sure you have adequate waterproof metal detectors. The following are some of Michigan’s top rivers and creeks for metal detecting:

  1. Detroit River (Detroit, Michigan)
  2. Boardman River (Grand Traverse, Michigan)
  3. Thunder Bay River (Alpena, Michigan)
  4. Portage Creek (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
  5. Presque Isle River (Gogebic, Michigan)
  6. Rainy River (Presque Isle, Michigan)

Metal detecting in Ghost Towns of Michigan

Michigan is home to hundreds of ghost towns. These are the towns where mining was done in the past and the inhabitants just abandoned it when the ore was exhausted. There are also other numerous old cities where the resident left for a variety of other reasons.

All in all, all these small and abandoned towns and cities are considered ghost towns in Michigan. These towns add another layer to Michigan’s rich history. Bear in mind, that metal detecting in ghost towns of Michigan may require permission from the local authorities. Once you figure out whether you need a permit and get one if needed, ghost towns in Michigan will surely be one of your favorite places to go metal detecting.

You may find various historical artifacts in these ghost towns. Furthermore, finding a coin spill, fine jewelry, or other expensive items in these ghost towns of Michigan is not unusual.

Some of the popular ghost towns in Michigan for metal detecting are:

  1. Kensington (Border of Livingston, and Oakland counties)
  2. Killmaster – 4
  3. Depot Town (Washtenaw County)
  4. Vickeryville (Montcalm County)
  5. Pine Hill (Sanilac County)

Metal detecting clubs in Michigan

One of my favorite activities is metal detecting since it allows me to reconnect with old acquaintances while also creating new ones. If you want to meet new people and go on a metal detecting trip with them, I highly recommend joining a metal detecting group in Wyoming.

Metal detecting clubs may provide a wealth of information and help you discover new sites to detect. As a beginner, you’ll probably have problems setting your metal detector for a specific location. A smart approach to cope with this problem is to join a metal detecting club.

Michigan does not have any shortage of great metal detecting clubs. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran metal detectorist, metal detecting clubs in Michigan can help you enhance your skills.

Metal detecting clubs do not have to be online. Facebook groups are a great way to connect with fellow Michigan Metal Detectorists and share your knowledge and skills. 

Some of the best Metal detecting clubs in Michigan are:

  1. West Michigan Metal Detecting Community
  2. Wolverine Research & Recovery Club (Holland, Michigan)
  3. Michigan Treasure Hunters

Similarly, some of the most popular Metal Detecting Facebook groups in MI are:

  1. West MI Metal Detecting
  2. Mid MI Metal Detecting
  3. MI Uncovered Metal Detecting
  4. Metal Detecting MI

Final Thoughts

Overall, Michigan is a great place to go metal detecting. The natural beauty, history, weather, and relaxed restrictions of Michigan make this an enjoyable activity to participate in. Before attempting it in public, make sure you’re familiar with Michigan’s metal detecting laws. If you’re on private property, be sure you get permission from the owner first; otherwise, you could be charged with trespassing.