By Bryan K. Alfaro
November 3, 2011
If you enjoy outdoor activities and are looking for a new place to experience, then consider Oscoda, Mich.; the township is on Lake Huron about three hours north of Ann Arbor and offers canoeing, fishing, golfing, hiking, hunting, jet skiing, kayaking, snowmobiling and swimming.
About 85 miles north of Bay City, Oscoda hugs the lakeshore where the AuSable River empties into Lake Huron and U.S. Highway 23 cuts through the downtown area. The township has a population of fewer than 1,000 people but offers roughly 300 square miles of state forestland that is open to the public.
In 2006, Oscoda was declared the “official home of Paul Bunyan” by the Michigan Legislature, because the folk tale legend was created at the Oscoda Press newspaper in 1906, by then editor and publisher James MacGillivray. The paper publishes weekly editions and offers online subscription services as well.
In and around the Oscoda area, visitors can enjoy more than 35,000 acres of hiking and cross country skiing trails, which feature lakes, ponds, marshes, bogs, bluffs, hills and forests.
Between May and October the paddlewheel AuSable River Queen offers two-hour rides down the AuSable River on the only riverboat of its kind in the north. With a snack bar and liquor bar, the boat offers live music on the weekends.
There are seven charter fishing boat businesses in Oscoda that service Lake Huron, Oscoda harbor, the 1,400 acre Van Etten Lake and the AuSable. It’s not unheard of to catch a 30-inch walleye weighing in around 12 pounds. The area is known for walleye but also has trout, salmon and perch.
Canoe enthusiasts can attend the annual AuSable International Canoe Marathon, a 120-mile non-stop trip downstream from Grayling to Oscoda that takes 14 hours or more. The event is the longest non-stop canoe race in northern Michigan.
Golfers can choose from three 18-hole golf courses at the Lakewood Shores Resort in Oscoda: The Gailes, The Serradella and Blackshire, as well as an 18-hole Wee Links course for kids. The resort offers packages that include lodging and golfing from $110-$400; the number of nights and courses vary by package.
Visitors have over two-dozen choices of places to stay in Oscoda ranging from rustic one-room cabins and beachfront houses to hotels with golf courses and in-room Jacuzzis.
The eateries are also varied, from fast food to privately owned restaurants, such as: the Bavarian Bakery & Restaurant, Mama’s Country Kitchen and the AuSable Inn.
Directions: From Ann Arbor take U.S. 23 North, merge onto I-75 North, slight right onto U.S. 23 North toward Standish/Alpena, exit on the left onto U.S. 23 North/S. Huron Road toward Standish/Alpena (about 180 miles total).
AuSable International Canoe Marathon: 65th Annual race will run from July 24-29, 2012. For more information call 734-739-9231.
AuSable River Queen: Regular ticket prices: adults $12, senior citizens $10, children $6 (kids under 4 are free). Tours start at the Foote Site Dam. Call 989-739-7351 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for more information.
For fishing boat charter information visit: www.oscoda.com (Starting location varies by charter service.)
For hiking and snowmobiling trail information contact U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Sue Kocis at 989-739-0728.
For information on canoe, Jet Ski, kayak rentals visit: www.oscoda.com
Golfing at the Lakewood Shores Resort, 7751 Cedar Lake Road, Oscoda, MI 48750: Prices vary by course and day of the week ranging from $28-$62. The Wee Links is $8 for adults and $5 for kids. Golf cart rental is $17. Call 1-800-882-2493 for more information or visit: www.lakewoodshores.com
Lodging ranges from $50-200 night, rates vary depending on amenities and season. Some establishments offer weekly rates. For more information visit: www.oscoda.com