Explore The Outdoors
Get right with Mother Nature, and get outside!
When workdays all feel like Mondays and the walls start closing in, the only real respite is to get out-outside, that is! Biking, hiking, boating, fishing ... just plain living! For any reason, and in any season, Go Great Lakes Bay has the outdoor spaces and places for you to play (hard)!
Where are the best trails? Who rents fat tire bikes for winter rides? Where should I drop in a line for the best local catch? Hit the ground running with insider know-how, and venture out like a local into our Great Lakes Bay stomping grounds of natural splendor! The fishing holes are here (and here, read on)!
Go Take A Hike
Hike, bike, snowshoe, cross-country ski (inline skate, anyone?) along the 3.7-mile, paved Chippewa Trail, or any of the other 15 miles of trails within Chippewa Nature Center in Midland. This nature preserve is 1,200 acres of woodlands, wetlands, rivers and upland fields that await action! Explore independently, or join guided Kayak Tours, Full Moon Strolls, or Wildlife Walks for added discovery. After your hike, relax with a cup of coffee or tea at the River Outlook (inside the Visitor Center), and enjoy the languid Pine River...
Around here, folks eagerly anticipate the linking of each trail leg along our Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, joining our people and places by an eventual 100-mile, looped path-the connector from Saginaw to Bay City (drum roll, please) just opened in October 2016! As the vision comes to life, all non-motorized modes of travel are welcomed to ride the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail:
- Bay County River Walk/Rail Trail-17.5 miles through Bay County, including the Bay City State Recreation Area (with additional unpaved trails, and exploration of Tobico Marsh).
- Now joined with the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail-11 miles from St. Charles to Saginaw Township, including bridges, City of Saginaw Riverwalk (and perhaps a quick stop at St. Charles' infamous Rustic Inn Steakhouse & Saloon for a bite to eat, just a short walk from the trail).
- Pere Marquette Rail Trail-30 miles from Midland to Coleman, with a loop around Chippewa Nature Center. (Psst! The Buttonville Inn B&B in Coleman is a must if staying over to greet Amish neighbors and grab a bite at small-town diners is on your radar.)
Should you find yourself in need of a bike tune-up, or looking for something that'll glide through the snow, Jack's Bicycle Shop in Downtown Bay City services bikes, rents Fat Tire Bikes for winter riding (and tandem bikes, too), and leads bike tours through Bay City and beyond!
Drop a Line
Whether you're sitting cold but cozy in a shanty during the winter or boating the Saginaw Bay in sunny summer, this region is a hotspot for bringing fish to plates! Known for walleye, with some perch, pike, bass and an occasional catfish, the 1,143-square-mile Saginaw Bay is wide-open for boating fun, and those who are fishing should head to the "Spark Plug"! It looks like a big spark plug sticking out of the water (approximately halfway into the shipping channel), has a blinking light, and is a known local hotspot for fish!
Look to Boomerang Fishing Charters for a lead into Saginaw Bay's perch and walleye, and if you need lures, line, or sporting goods of any kind: Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning; Frank's Great Outdoors in Linwood; or Little Forks Outfitters in Midland.
If there's a claim to natural fame around these parts, it's ultimately the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, recognized as one of Michigan's 7 Wetland Wonders and known locally as just "The Flats"! It's all here, with more than 9,800 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest, and grasslands (along with bald eagles, great egrets and thousands of species of wildlife) to explore by bike, foot, canoe, kayak-and even aboard shallow draft, custom-built boats with the always-unique Johnny Panther Quest Adventure Trips!
A visit to Green Point Environmental Learning Center makes for a great start to The Flats; any time spent bird-watching, biking, cross-country skiing or even cruising in your car on a Wildlife Drive (auto tour route now available) will be worthwhile.
Find all kinds of adventures here in our Go Great Lakes Bayoutdoor stomping grounds, and enjoy the hotspots, hikes, and trails with local know-how, handed to you by neighbors who greatly appreciate these backyards, too!