Alpena’s Trails Parks, & Beaches
Alpena is unique in that no matter where you are, you are never far from a place where you can relax and unwind. The community is dotted with beautiful parks and trails just waiting for you to arrive and make Pure Michigan memories!
Get your Trails, Parks & Beaches Guide to start exploring!
City Serenity Trails
Alpena is known for being a place where you can leave your worries behind and just enjoy life as it unfolds. Relaxed adventure can be found along the miles and miles of city trails. Let the sound of the Thunder Bay River current carry away anything that may be troubling you. Build fun family memories with a tour of the city from these great trails.
Alpena Bi-Path – Approximately 18.5 miles long, the path travels through several of Alpena’s scenic city parks and beaches along the Thunder Bay River and Lake Huron. Parking is available at several sites along the path. An excellent tour of the city by foot, rollerblade, or bike.
Maritime Heritage Trail – This historically-oriented walking tour along the Thunder Bay River in downtown Alpena begins at South Riverfront Park (behind the Armory on Water Street), following the river north, crossing over the Ninth Avenue Bridge, then following the river south and ending at South Riverfront Park. The walk includes boardwalk, interpretive signs, a new pedestrian bridge behind the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, and integrates a portion of the city’s 18.5 mile Bi-Path. The overall objective of the trail is to demonstrate the importance of Lake Huron and the Thunder Bay River in the development of Alpena and its unique maritime culture.
Tranquil Country Trails
Get outside and get into nature! Within moments you can be out on your bike, riding the trails, hiking, jogging through pristine forest, snowshoeing or skiing your stress away on these trails that cut through Northeast Michigan’s emerald timberlands. Visit www.thunderbaytrails.org for more trail information.
Besser Natural Area – 20 minutes north of Alpena, this 1 mile foot trail winds through an area formerly inhabited by the people of the Village of Bell. Explore the forest and find remains of historic buildings, a virgin stand of white pine trees, a lagoon and beautiful beach.
Norway Ridge – five miles south of Alpena, features 10 miles of forgiving, groomed terrain. This is a great place for a beginning trail biker or offers a peaceful ski in the winter.
Chippewa Hills Pathway – 20 miles southwest of Alpena, offers a more challenging terrain. Over 14-miles of hilly, heavily wooded terrain await you on this trail. Enjoy single-track bike trails or take your skis or snowshoes out in the winter months.
N.E.S.T. – The Northeast State Trail starts in Alpena and travels over 70+ miles along a former railroad grade to Cheboygan. The trail head is located off Woodward Avenue in Alpena (you can park at the soccer fields). The trail is mostly flat and made of crushed limestone. Nature abounds through easy twists and turns across the northeast Michigan countryside. Jog, hike or bike when the weather is warm, and in the winter snowmobiles are welcome on the trail.
Check out our blogs, The Beginners Guide to a NEST Trail Snowmobile Adventure and The Powder of 5: Snowshoeing the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes for a winter experience on our tranquil country trails!
City Parks & Beaches
Modern-day conveniences dance with the calming current of the Thunder Bay River and Lake Huron within the city limits of Alpena. The city’s parks and beaches are closely connected to the inner-city Bi-Path. Take a day or a week and explore nature without ever leaving the comfort of an advanced community.
Duck Park & Island Park – Located within Alpena city limits at the corner of US-23 and Long Rapids Road, Duck Park and Island Park are located on a portion of the city’s 500-acre wildlife sanctuary. Cross our beautiful, hand-hewn covered wooden bridge to get to Island Park, which features nature trails, fishing platforms, and 5 distinctly different ecosystems. Duck Park offers fishing and a picnic area and provides a great vantage point for viewing a large variety of bird species in the sanctuary area. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available from Performance Locker.
Watertower Park Rain Garden – This rain garden helps the environment by absorbing runoff water. Rainwater soaks into the ground and nourishes the native plants that populate the garden. The plants and soil filter contaminants and prevent sediments from entering the river. The garden is located along the river at the Ninth Ave. Bridge. Watertower Park also features a skate park and fishing deck.
Bay View Park – Located off State St. near Alpena’s Boat Harbor; includes a Fine Arts Band Shell, basketball and tennis courts, play area, picnic area and breakwall walking path with beautiful view of Lake Huron.
Mich-E-Ke-Wis Park – Located on State St./US-23-S; swimming beach, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, children’s play area, bike park, picnic area, open area for kite flying, and shelter building.
Rotary’s Island Mill Park – located in Thunder Bay River behind the NOAA/Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary building. The park includes picnic areas, gazebo, and fishing platform.
McRae Park – located on Alpena’s north side; includes ballfields, basketball and tennis courts, play area, picnic area, outdoor ice rink and shelter building.
Washington Avenue Park – located on Washington Avenue alongside the Bi-Path; picnic area with beautiful view of Thunder Bay River.
Blair Street Park – Located on State St.; swimming, picnic area, boardwalk/pier.
Starlite Beach – Located on State St.; the area’s only lifeguard supervised swimming area, with a picnic area, play area and play structures.
Sytek Park – located off Bagley St. along Thunder Bay River; includes picnic areas, wheelchair-accessible covered fishing deck, canoe/kayak launch, and connects to the City’s Bi-Path.
Thomson Park – Located on State St.; swimming, picnic area.
Several other smaller parks are scattered throughout the city including LaMarre Park with a fishing deck and picnic area, Avery Park with a picnic area and benches, North Riverfront Park with a picnic area, fishing deck and boat ramp, and South Riverfront Park with a picnic area, fishing deck and interpretive signs.
Area Parks & Beaches
Arthur E. Sytek Park – Kayak/canoe launch, wheelchair-accessible fishing deck, picnic tables, and wildflowers await.
Manning Hill Park – 18 miles west of Alpena (or 3 blocks East of M-65 South, or 1 block West of M-65 North). Beautiful view of the quiet countryside, small pavilion, picnic tables, rustic restrooms.
Sanborn Park/Ossineke Beach – Located on Lake Huron at the end of Lake Street in Ossineke. Swimming beach, playground equipment, picnic tables, pavilion, and toilets.
Shingaba Shores – Huge play structure, totem pole, port-a-johns. Handicap accessible. Located in Ossineke on Ossineke Rd. across from Dinosaur Gardens.
Negwegon State Park
Mysterious, remote and undeveloped, Negwegon State Park is a hidden treasure with 10 miles of hiking trails and one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Huron. Negwegon is located on US-23, 12 miles north of Harrisville. Drivers should be wary of the entry route to the park…part of it is a sandy two-track road. To get to the park, take Black River road off of US 23 to the east 1.5 miles, turn north on Sand Hill Rd. and go 2.5 miles, turn right or east at the Negwegon State Park sign and go 1.5 miles to the day use parking area. No services, back country camping available.
Rockport State Park Recreation Area
Rockport State Park, Michigan’s 100th State Park, has over 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron north of Alpena. The property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, the Besser Natural Area, and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources and recreation opportunities. At the harbor, the DNR has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park with picnic areas. Print out this handy Rockport Adventure Guide to start your exploration of Michigan’s 100th State Park.
Thompson’s Harbor State Park
Located 24 miles north of Alpena on US 23 North, this natural area encompasses 5,000 acres of sand dunes, upland and marsh. In Michigan there are fewer than 50 remaining examples of “forested wet swale communities” of this quality. The area supports one of the largest known populations in the world of the federal and state-threatened dwarf lake iris, Michigan’s state wildflower. Thousands of iris shoots, and several other plant species of special concern grow in the area. Situated along seven and a half miles of Lake Huron shoreline, this undeveloped park provides a rustic retreat for hikers exploring the park’s six miles of trails. Park at the trail-head off of US-23.
As of February 16, 2016, Negwegon State Park, Rockport State Recreation Area, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park have been officially named Dark Sky Preserves. These parks are now protected from artificial light pollution and provide amazing night sky photography and stargazing.
Dark Sky Preserve Parks
Thompson’s Harbor State Park, Rockport State Recreation Area, and Negwegon State Park are all official State of Michigan designated Dark Sky Preserve Parks. Get your Dark Sky Adventure Guide and start planning your visit!
A State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passport is required to enter the parks. Just $11 when purchased with in-state license plate renewals. Find out more HERE.
When the snow flies be ready to hit the trails! Check out these helpful links for making your trip complete: