Midland - Harrison - Remus

Head to the heart of Michigan's Lower Peninsula from early to mid-October for a town-and-country fall color tour that departs Midland and circles hardwood forests and farmland in four counties. The 160-mile route is dotted with dozens of inland lakes and criss-crossed by the Pine, Salt, Sturgeon, Tittabawassee, Tobacco and Chippewa rivers.

Best Enjoyed: Early to Mid-October
Approximate Length: 160 miles

Start at Midland's "Tridge," a pedestrian bridge with three, 180-foot legs that span the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa rivers. Throughout history the rivers have been important to Indians, fur traders, loggers, industry, and recreational users. Picnic on the riverbank or shop for produce at the Farmers Market. Take a hike, bike or rollerblade the Pere Marquette Rail Trail from this spot; it's a straight, 30-mile shot to the Herrick Recreational Area near Clare. Scenic spots along the former railroad grade include the Arbutus Bog, Veterans Memorial Park and Sanford Lake Park.

From the Tridge you can also hike the Chippewa Nature Trail four miles to the Chippewa Nature Center. The 1,200 acre private preserve at the confluence of the Pine and Chippewa rivers is home to eagles, gulls, ducks, swallows, and other birds, as well as raccoons, mink, muskrat, beaver, deer, otter and other mammals. Visitor Center displays explore rivers, wetlands, fields and woodlands. Native American exhibits include striking murals, a full size birch bark canoe and outdoor wigwam. Explore six nature trails on your own or time your visit for a special program, such as a guided tour through the colorful Beech Maple woods, an Early Bird Hike to spot late season migrants and early arriving winter birds, and evening and Nature at Night walks.

There's still more of the natural world to see in the city. When Herbert Dow, founder of The Dow Chemical Company, created Dow Gardens 1899 he sculpted and planted according to his simple philosophy, "never reveal the gardens' whole beauty at first glance." Another section of Dow Gardens, the recently acquired, 40-acre Whiting Forest, offers two miles of wooded trails. All of those native plants and trees and you're still within the city limits!  

Depart Midland on State Route 20/Business Route US-10 to US-10 west. Follow that about 12 miles to highway 30 and head north 15 miles to Knox Rd., then turn left and travel 6 miles to Beaverton. This is one of the many small towns in the region that date to the lumber boom of the late 1800's. It was originally known as Grand Forks for its location at the confluence of the Tobacco and Cedar rivers. Tackle the corn maze or find Jack-O-Lantern material at The Wild Pumpkin, or relax at Ross Lake Park. Follow M-18 north from Beaverton 6 miles; just outside of Gladwin turn west on M-61; it's about 14 miles to US-127, the original "Up North Highway." Within 10 miles south on US-127 are a Michigan Welcome Center and the city of Clare, known for its Irish heritage and Amish community.

Continue west on M-61 a few miles to Harrison. Wilson State Park on Budd Lake is a perfect picnic or rest stop; it was the site of the Wilson Brothers Sawmill and Company Store in the late 1800s. 

Continue on M-61 west for 7 miles and turn left on Bringold Rd. to Lake George, another small community that owes its beginnings to lumbering and the railroad. From here you'll zig-zag your way to highway 115: Go west on Mannsiding, south on Hemlock, west on Ashard, and south on Lake Station. At Highway 115 head east to Farwell. En route, just before Lake Station Rd., stop for a hike on the Green Pine Lake Pathway in the Au Sable State Forest. 

From Farwell take head south on Vandecar Rd. 6 miles to Coleman, then west on Coleman about 13 miles to Barryton, at the M-66 junction. Travel south 10 miles on M-66 to Remus, home of the Wheatland Music Festival held in early September. Throughout much of the rest of the year Wheatland hosts other activities dedicated to preserving old-time traditional music and arts. Acoustic musicians of all levels are invited to free jamborees held on the first Saturday of the month and anyone interested-no experience or partner required--is welcome to monthly Saturday night traditional dances (small fee). 

From Remus continue south 5 miles on M-66 to Jackson Rd., where you'll turn east and travel 3 miles to Blanchard. Notice the blazing glory of the maple leaves? Since Native Americans started tapping the trees folks like those at Doodles Sugar Bush in Blanchard have been making homemade maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cream, maple butter and maple candy. 
Pick up Blanchard Rd. and head east 9 miles to Winn. Detour another couple miles north to M-20 and Deerfield County Park, where you can photograph a picturesque covered bridge used only by hikers and cyclists.

Take a side trip to Mt. Pleasant, six miles east of the park. Visit Robaire's Bakery for home-baked donuts and breads, or tour the Michigan Maze at Papa's Pumpkin Patch & Farm Market. The Chippewa Indians originally roamed this land and the tribe is an important presence in the region. In Mt. Pleasant their Soaring Eagle Casino is the largest in the Midwest, and the informative Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifewayscelebrates their heritage through exhibits and programs.

Back in Winn continue east 11 miles on Blanchard Rd. to Shepherd. "The Sweetest Little Town Anywhere Around" hosts a big Maple Syrup Festival each April, and boasts a historic school house and rail depot. 
From Shepherd you'll head east on Shepherd Rd. 5 miles to Coleman Rd. Turn south on Coleman to Redstone, then left on a winding Pine River Rd. to Meridan Rd. At US-20 continue eastward to Midland to complete your circle tour of the mid-Mitt.

Pere Marquette Rail-Trail
Midland, MI 48640
Phone: (989) 687-2396
The famous Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, a smooth 30-mile stretch of asphalt pathway, currently stretches from downtown Midland to the outskirts of Clare but plans are underway to extend the trail even further. Perfect for biking, walking, inline skating and splendid views of nature and wildlife, this model trail attracts nearly 200,000 visitors a year. There are many sights and sounds to enjoy along the way, with ample parking and restrooms to make your trek that much more convenient and enjoyable.
Herrick Recreation Area
6320 E. Herrick Road
Clare, MI 48617
Phone: (989) 317-4083
Over one hundred acres of rustic beauty is yours to discover. 73 campsites, five rustic cabins. Picnicking, fishing pond, sand volleyball courts, horseshoes, boat launch, playground and a large, sandy swimming beach. Nearby Soaring Eagle Casino and Pere Marquette Rail-Trail.
​Chippewa Nature Center
400 S. Badour Rd.
Midland, MI 48640
Phone: (989) 631-0830
Chippewa Nature Center is a 1,200 acre haven of woodlands, wetlands, rivers and upland fields, with over 15 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, including the 3.7 mile paved Chippewa Trail for running, walking, biking and inline skating. Interpretive stops along the route tell the exciting story of this unique landscape. The Visitor Center houses hands-on exhibits in the Ecosystem Gallery. Children will enjoy the Nature Discovery Area and visitors of all ages should be sure to watch one of the many videos available in the Bur Oak Theater. Relax with a cup of coffee or tea and watch the Pine river idle by in the River Overlook. The Wildlife Viewing Area is a unique way to observe wildlife, and a naturalist is on staff to assist visitors and callers with nature-related questions and concerns. Other attractions include a wetlands area and three accurately restored log buildings. CNC offers a Nature Preschool, Day Camp, and a wide variety of programs, including natural and cultural history programs, nature hikes, paddling trips, workshops and field trips for youth and adults, a variety of guest speaker presentations and drop-in programs for all ages. Please visit our website for current program information. Visitor Center open Monday - Friday 8 am- 5 pm, Saturday 9 am- 5 pm and Sundays and Holidays 1-5 pm. Hiking Trails open every day dawn till dark.
Dow Gardens
1809 Eastman Road
(Business Route US 10)
Midland, MI 48640
Toll Free: (800) 362-4874
Phone: (989) 631-2677
The Dow Gardens is a botanical garden that cultures plants that will grow in central Michigan in landscape settings. This 110-acre garden is comprised of individual gardens ie. rose garden, wildflower plantings, rhododendrons, trees and shrubs hardy to central Michigan. The plantings include 1,800 different taxs comprised of herbaceous perennials, tulips (18,000), annual bedding plants (10,000), trees and shrubs. Holding this landscape together is a 6-acre stream, pond and riparian system. A new feature is a hands-on children's garden that is designed for the young and young-at-heart to discover the world of plants and how we relate. Make time for a visit Whiting Forest to enjoy seven different types of forest, a spacious Visitor Center, hiking trails, covered bridges, ponds and more...
The Wild Pumpkin
5799 Beaverton Road
Beaverton, MI 48612
Phone: (989) 941-9562
Come to the country where you can spend the day with the family gathering pumpkins, eating donuts, or in a corn maze all while on a budget.
Ross Lake ParkM-18
Beaverton, MI 48612
Phone: (989) 435-2100
Beach and boat launch, playground and a nice picnic area for all to use. Ross Lake Park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a warm summer breeze off the Lake
Clare Welcome Center
9599 US 127
Clare, MI 48617
Phone: (989) 386-7634
Stop in and you will be greeted with knowledgeable staff on all of Michigan's vast travel offerings. Plus, they're backed up with abundant brochures, maps, and guidebooks that you're welcome to take with you--all free of charge. They can even help you make hotel or campground reservations, offer safety tips & weather information, and advise on where to expect road construction.
Wilson State Park
910 North First Street
Harrison, MI 48625
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (989) 539-3021
Wilson State Park is a 36-acre facility situated on Budd lake in Harrison. It's campground is mostly wooded with modern toilet facilities. Wilson also has generous picnic areas and a swimming beach. Metal detecting area. Tepee rental available.
Green Pine Lake Pathway
14 miles NW of Clare on M-115
Clare, MI 48617
Phone: (989) 426-9205
8.5 mile trail suitable for biking and hiking.
Doodle's Sugar Bush
10639 S. Johnson Rd.
Blanchard, MI 49310
Phone: (989) 866-6177
Doodle’s Sugar Bush, LLC began its operation in 1998 after purchasing several maple trees near the little town of Blanchard. It has been through this adventure that we have recognized the need to carry on one of the oldest traditions known to mankind – making maple syrup. We pride ourselves in using only the highest standards available to make superior maple syrup and other fine maple delicacies. In addition to making maple syrup, we also specialize in making soft and hard maple candies, maple sugar, maple cream, maple butter, maple jelly, various maple seasonings and gourmet maple sauces. Our attractive packaging and high quality product will not only tempt your taste buds with a unique ‘taste of Michigan’, but also will make a great gift for that special someone.
Deerfield Nature Park
2425 W. Remus Road (M-20)
Mount Pleasant, MI 48858
Reservations: (989) 317-4083
Phone: (989) 772-2879
591 acre forest/river setting. Eight miles of hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails. Two state of the art 18 hole disc golf courses; fish the scenic Chippewa River or just relax and enjoy the wildlife. Features include a sandy swimming beach, picnic areas, two swinging bridges, two canoe landings and the Fisher Covered Bridge. Canoe or hike to one of 10 rustic campsites. Winter activities include groomed trails for cross country skiing, access to ice fishing, snow shoeing and sledding.
Robaire's Bakery
1903 South Mission Street
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
Phone: (989) 772-3516
Robaire's is a local Mt. Pleasant bakery that has been in the area for over 40 years. They provide donuts, breads and hamburger buns to many other Mt. Pleasant establishments. If you eat hot dogs at CMU football games or grab donuts at a gas station, you have tried their food and may not even have realized it! They are located in between Jimmy Johns and ABC Warehouse right off Mission street. If you have not been in before they encourage you to come see what they have to offer, you won't be disappointed.
Papa's Pumpkin Patch and Country Farm Market
3909 South Summerton Road
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
Phone: (989) 773-4345
The Miller Family started Papa’s Pumpkin Patch as an educational and recreational farm after Bill & Dee retired from Central Michigan University in 2000. Since then, children and adults have enjoyed hayrides, farm parties, rides on the Pumpkin Train, shopping in The Toy Store, solving the Michigan Maze and Pumpkin Maze, much more. In addition to all the great activities at Papa’s, we have recently introduced our Country Farm Market. In response to requests from the public we carry farm produce, nursery items and the freshest Michigan grown fruits and vegetables. Open year round.
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
6800 Soaring Eagle Boulevard
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
Reservations: (877) 232-4532
Toll Free: (888) 732-4537
Phone: (888) 732-4537
The Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort is the Midwest’s premier AAA Four Diamond gaming and hospitality destination offering top-name entertainment year-round, award-winning dining, high stakes bingo and a full-service spa. Dining includes Isabella's serving a selection of Michigan wines, Sniikaung, Aurora Buffet, Legends Diner, Water Lily Lounge, Native Grind, Endless Options and Miijim Store.
Ziibiwing Center
6650 East Broadway
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
Toll Free: (800) 225-8172
Phone: (989) 775-4750
The changing exhibits of the Ziibwing Center is a collection of unique and rare North American Indian art and artifacts. Our mission is to teach you about the Anishinabe Culture and life ways through education and exhibits. Learn our heritage and culture of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. Includes exhibits, research center, meeting and conference facilities, cafe and gift shop. Open Monday through Saturday 10 am – 6 pm.