Celebrating Rogers City

Sunrise on Lake Huron - Rogers City, MI on June 16, 2010, taken by Doug LevyGuest blogger Jennifer Daniel Szymanski shares precious memories of family vacations in Rogers City, and lets us in on one of Michigan’s “best kept secrets.”

I grew up vacationing in the Michigan woods. My family – my dad, mom, younger brother and myself – spent many summers packing up our car and heading north out of our Mt. Pleasant-based home to car-camp throughout the state in its numerous and varied state parks. While I remember many of them, it is P.H. Hoeft State Park, just west of Rogers City, that stands out in my memory. Maybe it’s because it was a meeting place for my family and my extended family; a mini-family reunion that took place the same week every summer. Maybe it was the wooded, quiet campsites, the rolling, sandy beaches or the wide, pine tree-scented hiking trails that wound their way through the park. Maybe it’s because it was the last place we camped as a family, our final year being the year I turned 16. I think it’s probably a combination of all of those things, and 20 years later, the park still serves as the location for some of my favorite childhood memories.

Rogers City has changed a lot over the past 20 years. In 1990, it was a hot spot for salmon fishing, one of the main attractions for our own family trips. Today, a diminishing salmon count in the Great Lakes has affected summer business in this sleepy northern town. That said, there are still plenty of good reasons to visit both Hoeft State Park and the town of Rogers City. Today, the Huron-Sunrise Trail, a paved and mostly flat biking and walking path, winds its way 10 miles along Lake Huron from Hoeft to downtown Rogers City. There is a good-sized, well-kept playground on the beach of Lake Huron near the marina in Rogers City that is a perfect play spot for families. If it’s summer, there’s a classic burger-and-ice cream stand just steps away from the park.

And if it’s fall, there is a charming cider mill well worth the 15-minute drive out of downtown Rogers City. Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm is a quaint, 13-acre apple farm and cider mill that I believe is one of Michigan’s best kept secrets. The name might be kitschy, but the farm is home to a warm and inviting country store, a large outdoor play area for kids, a small petting farm, and truly the best cider and doughnuts this cider-mill-loving city dweller has ever tasted. And I’ve tasted a lot of them.

Rogers City is no exception to the sad number of struggling small towns in Michigan. It has seen the same hard times that many areas have seen. But P.H. Hoeft State Park, the Rogers City Marina, its classic summer park and ice cream stand, and Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm are certainly reasons to celebrate – and to plan a visit.

Jennifer Daniel Szymanski was born and raised in Michigan and has lived everywhere from metro Detroit to the Upper Peninsula. She explores the state every chance she gets, preferably on foot. She lives in Brighton with her husband, Craig, and their two daughters.

6 thoughts on “Celebrating Rogers City

  1. Hey! Thank you for your nice comments about our apple farm!!! I am up and around early today because I have to work in the barn to get it ready for the 2011 season. I am procrastinating because it is HOT in there, and I have to go scrub things, and haul giftware into the loft where its HOT, and the couch and a book and an ice tea are calling to me…ahhh… But your nice words reminded me why I’m doing this apple farm thing! So it’s pretty and smells good and makes happy memories of the fall for folks like you! Come again! (gotta go- there’s a box of Spic and Span with my name on it!) Dusty Knaebe (Ma)

  2. My son Craig Bird tipped me off about the article written by his cousin Jen Szymanski telling of her family camping memories in Rogers City, Michigan.
    Her parents now reside in Cheboygan, north of Rogers City, and they love the sunrise side of Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron. Interesting piece, Jen. It makes all of us, who haven’t explored that northern Michigan town, want to drive up and take a look.

  3. Enjoyed your article.Wehad been going Up North for over 40 years with our children and parents. We owned several cottages on Lake Huron in the Hammond Bay area. After moving to Arizona and not able to spend much time there we sold over 3 years ago. Your picture of the sunrise over Lake Huron looks just like the one I took. We miss not being able to hop in the car and go “UP NORTH” for the weekend. Since I am a Realtor in Arizona cant be away for long. My husband wanted me to mention Kortmans restrurant in Rogers City. Best home cooked meals.

  4. We have family in Rogers City and haven’t missed a Nautical City Festival in 20 years. Karstens is the best restaurant and of course we LOVE Knaebe’s!

  5. Great article. My Mom and I were in Rogers City, where there is a family cabin and I was doing some genealogy research in the area. We found the Apple Farm and loved it. Really enjoyed your article.

  6. What a good article written by my wonderful daughter! She’s right. Rogers City is a charming place to visit. We have wonderful memories and are still making them, now with our granddaughters!

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