Walk with dinosaurs, sail through a Great Lakes storm, paddle in a kayak, or snowshoe the backcountry. Whatever the season, there are always things to see and do in the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes.
Besser Natural Area & Ghost Village of Bell
Located just 14 miles north of Alpena. Take US-23 North to East Grand Lake Road. Turn Right onto Besser Bell Road. Look for DNR signs.
This serene one-mile foot trail leads through an area formerly inhabited by the people of the Village of Bell. Some remains of buildings, a virgin stand of white pine trees, a lagoon and beautiful beach. The shipwreck, Portland, lies just off the coast to the north near Bell Bay.
Blair Street Park offers a quiet respite on the Lake Huron shore. The park offers a grassy picnic area, sandy swimming beach, and wooden boardwalk pier extending into the water. The park is a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon, or reflect as the sun rises over Lake Huron in the morning. Also a prime spot for bird watching.
Brush Creek Mill was constructed on a site where previous mills once stood. Built on the banks of the Thunder Bay River, it was named for Brush Creek, which meets the river, flowing from Atlanta to Alpena. The mill demonstrates the power of moving water with a 22’ stainless steel water wheel, capable of grinding corn and wheat. The mill features a museum, meeting room/classroom and gift store featuring handmade crafts made by local artists and crafters. A wide variety of classes are offered including jewelry making, acrylic painting, fly tying, computer classes and more. The mill is open Memorial Day through mid-October. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 am – 3 pm and Sundays noon until 3 pm. Closed on Mondays. Tours are available for groups.
GPS: 45.18231, -83.71981, near the corner of Leer Rd. and Maple Lane Rd., approx. 20 minutes from Alpena
The 2.5-acre Bruski Sink is located off Leer Rd near the intersection of Maple Lane Rd. Carefully walk the southern edge of Bruski Sink. This sink was used as an unauthorized dumpsite (as many sinkholes were in previous decades) prior to 1999 when it’s clean up began. A 75 ft. crane donated by Moran Iron Works lowered dumpsters into this sink to facilitate the removal of cars, refrigerators, rusting containers of motor oil, and rusting farm machinery from the sides and bottom. This sink increased in depth from 85 ft. to 115 ft. after the removal of the debris during a nine year cleanup process. The debris removal reduced the risk of further underground water contamination and allows visitors a more visual perspective of the width and depth of this sink.
More information is available at the Alpena Visitor Welcome Center located at 420 N. Second Ave., Alpena, MI 49707
Located on beautiful Thunder Bay River and Lake Wynah. Fantastic Lake Huron diving area, fishing charters, many nearby golf courses, and good old town shopping. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE.
Waterfront sites, shaded sites, canoe and kayak trips, miniature golf, horseshoes, shuffleboard, basketball, volleyball, excellent fishing. Clean Modern Restrooms, Dumpstation and LP Gas.
Chippewa Hills Pathway
20 miles s.w. of Alpena, corner of Nicholson Hill & Kissau Rd.
Over 14-miles of wide and single-track trails wind through heavily wooded acreage with hilly elevation changes. This DNR Pathway is groomed by Thunder Bay Trails Association for the enjoyment of all. Map markers are located throughout the trail system.
- Cross-country ski (groomed when snowfall permits)
- Horseback riding
- Nature viewing
- Bird watching
- Mushroom picking
Features life-size reproductions of over 25 prehistoric birds and animals, and an 80′ long 60,000 pound Brontosaurus, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and a snack bar. Set on a 40-acre tract of land split by Devil’s River. Special rates available for school groups in the spring. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., 7 days a week. Open 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Weekends in September after Labor Day.
ACES Academy offers a nine-hole disc golf course on campus that is free to the public. Disc golf is played like “ball golf” except you throw a special disc. Holes are replaced by baskets and chains. The course is well marked and rules and information on how to play are posted at the entrance, which is located in the front parking lot of the school. Discs can be purchased at Direct Skate Shop in Alpena.
El Cajon Bay Underwater Sinkhole
GPS: 45.08629, -83.31786,
Karst geology features are prominent in and around the El Cajon Bay of Lake Huron. Earth cracks are common around the bedrock north and west rim of the bay. A large sinkhole in the bay is the outlet of an underground stream. Water discharge from the outlet empties into Lake Huron and, due to the constant flow and warmer temperature of water, the sinkhole never freezes over. When water levels in Lake Huron are high, the El Cajon sinkhole is submerged, but still visible on aerial photos. During low water levels like recent years, one can walk up to the edge of the sinkhole. The sinkhole discharge water has a different chemical composition than surface water of the bay and has a noticeable sulfur-like aroma. The property has excellent examples of untouched northern ferns and is a stronghold for the State’s wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris, which blooms in mid-May.
More information is available at the Alpena Visitor Welcome Center located at 420 N. Second Ave, Alpena, MI 49707
Biking is one of the best ways to explore Alpena! Plan your adventure with the Friends of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! We offer a great selection of Raleigh bikes for men, women and children as well as Burley child trailers and tag-alongs. Explore the Maritime Heritage Trail, the 16.5 mile long Alpena Bi-Path or grab a map and head out on a number of self-guided tours. Bikes are available seven days a week on a first-come, first-served basis. All rentals require a security deposit. For your safety, please wear a helmet – provided with your rental – and obey the rules of the road. For information on availability and selection, contact the Sanctuary Store at (989) 356-8805, ext. 18.
Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. Pronounced geo-cashing, it is the sport of treasure hunting using a Global Positioning Unit instead of a map. There are many caches hidden in the Alpena area and a regional organization meets regularly and hosts events. For more information, visit their web site.
We offer recreational and extended range wreck diving opportunities from Alpena to Whitefish Point. Full-service dive shop, sales, repair, air, nitrox, rentals and classes.
New Alpena location – 400 Cedar – phone 989-916-9990. Across from the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Fletcher Pond is Michigan’s 11th largest inland lake, 9000 acres of pure fish habitat and home to one of the largest concentrations of Northern Pike, Large Mouth Bass and pan fish in the State. Jacks Landing – the original landing of the flood waters – offers a complete array of lodging, camping and services to make for an enjoyable getaway. We offer twenty 14-foot Lund Fishing Boats with 6 horse power motors and three 18-foot pontoon boats with 25 horse power motors. Call for more information and discover Fletcher Pond today!
Jack’s Landing offers secure monthly and yearly outdoor storage for boats and RVs. Call for details!
Considering ice fishing this winter? Why go anywhere but Fletcher Pond? Rent one of our 4 x 8 propane heated ice shanties and fish in comfort! Whether you are an avid fisherman or want to introduce your family to ice fishing, this is a great winter activity.
Check out our video at http://www.youtube.com/user/anglershideaway