Here’s Where to Go and What to Do in Cheboygan

Summertime in Michigan is unlike anything else. Between the waves, beaches and trails, you’re sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. There are many areas in particular that make for incredible summer fun, and Cheboygan is near the top of the list. Read more on a few areas, and things to do, when visiting Northeast Michigan this summer and let us know what else you love to do when visiting the area!

Welcome to Cheboygan

At the confluence of the Cheboygan River and Lake Huron sits a community far and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Located on the picturesque Straits of Mackinac, Cheboygan is the gateway to the famous “Inland Waterway” – a navigable series of waterways encompassing three rivers, three lakes and 40+ miles of inland boating pleasure. A cruise from the mouth of the Cheboygan River into Lake Huron can take you to Bois Blanc or Mackinac Islands, both a leisurely boat ride away.

The Cheboygan area is a boaters paradise

Photo Courtesy of Missy Koszegi

Cheboygan offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, cross country skiing, kayaking, hunting, and numerous other outdoor activities. For those that prefer to stay indoors, our local merchants will warmly welcome you to a variety of novelty shops, retail outlets, entertainment facilities, casual and fine dining, and much more. You will find that our way of life here is warm, genteel, and inviting.  Locals will be glad to show you around, give you recommendations, and make your experience memorable.  Base your “up north” vacation here and be in the center of all that the area has to offer.

Explore Indian River

Indian River is at the center of all that makes Northern Michigan a treasured vacation destination and place to call home. Indian River, named after the river which flows through it, is nestled between Burt Lake and Mullett Lake along the 40 mile long Inland Waterway. Conveniently located off I-75, 25 miles south of the Mackinaw Bridge, Indian River is a place that visitors of all ages find many pleasures to enjoy during any season of the year. Truly Nature’s Mecca, Indian River is the ideal location to boat, fish, hunt, camp, bike, golf, kayak, canoe, raft, tube, stand up paddle board, sail, snowmobile, Off-Road Vehicles (ORV), motorcycle, ski, bird watch, mushroom hunt, hike, skate, dine, and shop. By water or by land, quiet sport or motor, fun with nature is certain with so many activities available to you.

Indian River's waterways are perfect for summertime fun

Photo Courtesy of Indian River Chamber of Commerce

Discover Mackinaw City

Historic Mackinaw City is one of Michigan’s leading vacation destinations. From world-famous fudge to the impressive beauty of the Straits of Mackinac and Mackinaw City, this “Up North” region offers plenty for visitors. Mackinaw City offers incomparable natural beauty, historical museums, state and local parks and forests, two marinas, boutique shopping, free music concerts, laser light shows, fine dining, and of course, that famous fudge. The Mackinaw City area is the place to come if you appreciate the beauty of nature, adventure and old-fashioned hospitality. Mackinaw City is renowned for its summer beauty, but all four seasons provide countless breathtaking views and numerous activities for all ages. There are beautiful sunrises over Lake Huron, gorgeous sunsets over Lake Michigan, and acres of unspoiled woods filled with numerous wildflowers in the summer and brilliant colors of the fall palette. Marked trails are perfect for hiking, biking, and geocaching.

Mackinaw City is a perfect destination to catch sight of the Mackinac Bridge

Photo Courtesy of Straits Area Printing

Experience the world-famous inland waterway

Northern Michigan’s Inland Waterway offers you a boating trip unlike any in the world. The approximately 42 mile trip takes you through three rivers and three lakes and surrounds you with some of the most beautiful scenery and captivating communities in Michigan. A voyage on the Inland Waterway can begin at the north end in Cheboygan, the middle in Indian River or the south end in Conway. Boat launches are conveniently located at many places along the route. The trip can be made in a day or over a weekend, with the communities of Cheboygan, Topinabee, Aloha, Indian River, Alanson, Oden and Conway all located on the water. Dining, lodging, supplies, and banking facilities can be found in most of these communities. Numerous marinas also dot the Inland Waterway where marine fuel, boat rentals, and ships stores are situated for your convenience. Whether you choose to make the Inland Waterway journey in a day or make it a weekend, you will see a side of Northern Michigan that cannot be seen along a highway or freeway. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a boating excursion unlike any other!

The cool water in Indian River provides a great time for boating, swimming and watersports

Photo Courtesy of Indian River Chamber of Commerce

Ride along the area’s incredible trail system

The Cheboygan area is blessed with one of the finest multi-purpose trail systems in the United States.  Michigan has a larger rails-to-trails system than any other state in the nation, and Cheboygan County has more of those trails than any other county in Michigan. The highly acclaimed North Central State Trail and the newly finished North Eastern State Trail (Mackinaw City to Alpena) are more and more the destinations of choice when it comes to groomed trails for cyclists and hikers alike. And the trails intersect right in Cheboygan. The Black Mountain Recreation Area offers a vast network of marked trails for hiking, ATV excursions, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. With over 30 miles available for hiking, 60 miles for off road vehicles, and 80 groomed miles for snowmobiling, the area is ideal for any type of outdoor adventure. Parking and trail access at Black Mountain are conveniently located.

Don't miss exploring the winding trails in the Cheboygan area

Photo Courtesy of Top of Michigan Trails Council

What is your favorite thing to do in the Cheboygan area? Share with us by commenting below!

Deer Hunting Traditions Run Deep in Pure Michigan

Are you ready for opening day? Today, guest blogger Katie Keen from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shares her family’s yearly hunting season preparations and traditions. 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Deer season means something a little different to each hunter, but for many Michiganders November is a very special time of the year!

For me, deer season will always catch me off guard!  How does the end of fall arrive so soon?  I always have a goal of where I need to be in my deer season preparations, which I seem to fail at miserably.  It really should be easy, when the antlerless deer application period is open July 15 – August 15, the same time every year. I should be thinking deer and thinking deer should tell me to get shooting!  Usually my goal is to get my bow out sometime in the month of August and start practicing, I’ve accomplished this task about 50 percent of the time, because you know you have those little voices in your head saying “oh you overachiever, you’ll be fine if you don’t start until September.”

My family and I go out on our property stomping around on about a daily basis, we could be picking berries, mountain biking or taking a hike but I’m always multi-tasking.  Finding deer trails is our past-time, and we love looking for any animal sign, but tracks, scrapes, scat, and rubs are our favorite!  So really, that’s my scouting, which I generally feel good about.

For me, fall is the best time of the year to be outside, the absolute best months of the year hands down!  Many others must agree, because annually over 660,000 hunters take to Michigan’s fields and forest for deer season.  That is a lot of families, friends, and neighbors that are all sharing a common interest in getting some fresh local and organic deer meat, not to mention having a little fun while we are at it!

DSC01912As of last year, deer licenses are even more flexible than ever before. You can buy a deer license (limit one so if you’re going to want to harvest two bucks go for the combo deer license) and hunt in any season!  With the deer license you can hunt archery season and harvest an antlerless or an antlered, or you can use the same license and hunt firearm season for antlered deer.  This was by far the best change of 2014 – so flexible and no application required (so it’s okay if you’re a person who can’t remember what you are did yesterday).  Visit www.michigan.gov/hunting  to read about your specific areas hunting seasons, antler point restrictions, baiting regulations, and more.

The Hunting and Trapping Digest is a must have! It’s in my purse, goes with me to the blind, and is stashed in my vehicle.

SX-Michigan-DNRSo with over 660,000 deer hunters taking to the woods, rituals or traditions are happening year after year and although the traditions may vary, they are at every deer camp and literally with every hunter.  It could be the same giant wool socks you’ve had for a decade, the big feast the night before or the “eve” of the deer season, maybe cleaning out the party the mice had in your deer blind the past winter, or walking that same trail out to your favorite spot in the crisp dark early morning of the opener.

It’s different for everyone one, but yet it’s the same.  It’s kind of nice to think about.  It’s neat to think on November 15 as I’m walking out in the darkness, questioning whether that tree was there before or if I got turned around or not, thousands of other people are doing the same exact thing.  THOUSANDS! We all might not think the same on so many other issues, we might come from so many different backgrounds, and we might say go STATE rather than go BLUE, but we are still sharing one of our most favorite times of the year – together.

Do you or a Michigan hunter you know follow any special deer camp traditions? Tell us!

DSC01915Katie Keen is a Wildlife Outreach Technician for the DNR in Cadillac who spends her working hours with hunters, landowners, educators, and media outlets for their DNR related needs! In her off-time, she is a hunting-landowner who loves to educate folks about the DNR!

A Grouse Hunter’s Guide To Navigating Michigan’s Seven New GEMS

GEMS logo

Grouse hunting season in Michigan is open now through November 14th. Today, guest blogger Katie Keen from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us about a new program that’s giving Michigan hunters access to some of the top grouse hunting areas in the country.

Daylight is starting to give us the squeeze, and if you’re like me, you’re starting to smell fall in the air.

Fall brings prime hunting season in Michigan, and with it a new program that the DNR and many other groups – like the Ruffed Grouse Society, U.S. Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation and Ducks Unlimited – are really excited about.

It’s called GEMS, or Grouse Enhanced Management Systems.

Michigan is among the leading states in the nation for grouse hunting, and the GEMS showcase seven great areas for those who want to give the sport a try or maybe existing hunters looking for new locations. The great thing about grouse hunting is, if you’re already a hunter you have – or will soon have, with deer season right around the corner – the hunting license you need.  The base license serves as a small game license, which is all you need for grouse hunting. The base license provides critical funding for wildlife and habitat management and conservation officers, and also to educate the public on the benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping.

Info kioskSeven GEMS are ready for this year’s grouse season, which starts Sept. 15.  Go online and pick out the first GEMS site you want to visit, whether it’s just below the bridge in Indian River, just north of the tri-cities near Standish, or north of the bridge where you could go from Drummond Island in the eastern U.P. to the Ottawa National Forest in the far western U.P.  The adventure is there and waiting!  You’ll also notice, when you’re on the GEMS website, the local support area businesses are giving GEMS. GEMS hunters will receive some great discounts by taking a selfie at a GEMS site and showing the picture to the participating business.

Once you’ve picked out your first GEMS location, and arrived there with your fashionable hunter orange vest, you’ll find some very useful information. Learn about ruffed grouse biology and how forests are managed for wildlife through cutting, hear examples of a ruffed grouse drumming on a log, and – most importantly – check out the map that will show you the miles and miles of hunter walking trails waiting for you.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 5.10.49 PMGEMS areas feature non-motorized trails planted with clover weaving through pockets of grouse’s favorite habitat – stands of young aspen trees. You can choose to stay on the trail looking for grouse, or step off a bit and venture through the stands of young timber.  And don’t forget the other great upland game bird that can be found and hunted in these GEMS – the American woodcock.  Woodcock season starts on Sept. 20, and since it is a migratory bird, an additional free “woodcock stamp” is needed for hunting.  You can grab a woodcock stamp anywhere DNR licenses are sold or online.

Once you’ve completed your first GEMS hunt, make sure to take that selfie in front of a GEMS sign and visit one of the area businesses to get a great discount.  Hunters in Michigan bring millions of dollars into our economy … and have a whole lot of fun doing it!

Katie KeenKatie Keen is a wildlife outreach technician for the DNR in Cadillac, who spends her working hours with hunters, landowners, educators and media representatives to help with their DNR-related needs. In her off-time, she is a hunting-landowner who loves to educate folks about the DNR.