Saginaw Bay's Maritime and Nature Trails

Just Cruising  - Courtesy of Midwest Living MagazineFrom toweling lighthouses and sunken vessels to Native American heritage and groom hiking and biking trails, charter fishing, golf, tall ships, festivals and fireworks, the Saginaw Bay area is full of adventure.

Traveling north along Saginaw Bay, the highway skirts beaches, dunes and pine forests. The road eases through harbor towns where shady streets invariably lead to marinas.

From the Tawas Bay to Alpena, youll find lighthouses, museums, specialty and antiques shops. At Alpenas Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the lake bottom harbors more than 80 shipwrecks, which captivate scuba divers. The sanctuarys Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, a warehouse-size museum, records Lake Hurons perils.

You dont need your car to cruise a 10-mile stretch of Michigans Sunrise Coastal Highway Heritage Route tracing US-23 along the Lake Huron shore. From Rogers City to P.H. Hoeft State Park, the new Huron Sunrise Trail provides a smooth paved pathway for bicycles, pedestrians and inline skaters. After winding out of Rogers City park and marina, the trail never strays more than a few feet from the broad, sandy beach. In the 300-acre preserve, the state has linked the Huron Sunrise Trails with its own new, paved trails that slices through the forest to P.H. Hoefts quiet beach and campground.

Combine a hike with birding and visit one of many wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. Near Saginaw is the 9,400-acre Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge includes a 5.5-mile trail where you can hike and observe Canada Geese, deer, muskrats, beavers, ducks and turtles and more than 200 species of birds including great blue herons, great egrets and bald eagles. Interpretative signs help identify areas and four observation decks allow you to take in breathtaking views.

At Nayanquing Point, youll find 1400 acres of coastal wetland and protected natural area are perfect for birding, hiking, fishing from the bank and bay watching. Best known for the large numbers and variety of migrating waterfowl that visit diked pools and the adjacent Saginaw Bay wetlands, the area features a 16-foot handicapped-accessible tower and spectacular views.

Casevilles Albert E. Sleeper State Park beckons visitors to 723 acres of forest, wetlands, sandy beach and dunes located on Lake Huron. The popular state parks has long been a favorite spot to admire gorgeous sunrises and sunsets on the bay, relax in the shade and seclusion of the campground or roam the trails of the ancient dune forests.

For information on area charters, golf courses, lighthouse tours, festivals and events, deals and packages, visit Great Lakes Bay Region,Tawas Bay Tourist & Convention Bureau, Oscoda Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau or the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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