Scenic Ride on the Sunrise Side
What is the Sunrise Side? It is the East Coast (Lake Huron side) of Michigan. Today's day trip will take you from Mackinaw City to Indian River, east to Rogers City, along the coast, north to Cheboygan and back in Mackinaw for the dinner bell. Take I-75 south approximately 25 miles to exit 310.
Indian River is nestled between the third and fourth largest lakes in the state, Burt and Mullett, at the heart of Michigan's longest chain of rivers and lakes. This area is a Paddling paradise. Miles of scenic rivers offer relaxation or adventure whether in a canoe, kayak or tube. The Sturgeon River is Class I-II Fast Water (the most challenging in Michigan's Lower Peninsula), while the Pigeon River flows through Elk Country.
If a river ride peeks your interest stop at Big Bear General Store located at 4271 S. Straits Hwy., in Indian River. They offer leisure tube rides on the Sturgeon River. For a day of fun and high adventure follow M-68 west 1/4 mile on the lift to Tomahawk Trails Canoe Trips. They will gear you up with everything you need for a fun day on the river.
Indian River is also home to the world's largest Crucifix. "The Cross in the Woods" has attracted millions of visitors from around the world. In 1954 the cross, made from a fifty-five foot redwood tree was erected with a seven ton bronze image of the crucified Jesus placed in 1959. People of every faith are invited to visit. AAA members recently voted the cross "The Most Beautiful Place of Worship in Michigan".
If all that water adventure and sight seeing has worked up an appetite, we suggest The Brown Trout for lunch. Located at 4653 S. Straits Hwy. in Indian River, this eatery has a variety of menu items for all. The house specialty is a 60-year-old family recipe for Bread Pudding with Bourbon Pecan Sauce.
From Indian River the Journey takes you to Rogers City. Follow State Route 68 approximately 45 miles east to the sunrise coast. Continue the drive along the coast by taking U.S. 23 north to Cheboygan. Approximately 4 miles north, out of Rogers City on U.S. 23, is P.H. Hoeft State Park.
The park features 41/2 miles of trails running through gently rolling, mixed hardwood-conifer forest, as well as along the Lake Huron shoreline. There are many wildflowers to view, especially in the spring. Trails are also available for cross-country skiing in the winter.
The route from Rogers City to Cheboygan is approximately 40 minutes of travel time. About 20 minutes out of Rogers City you will stumble upon Rosa's Squeeze Inn, 20927 U.S. 23, Grace Harbor. This is a no frills Italian Eatery that serves meals just like they are prepared in "the olde country". Save room for dessert. The cannoli alone is worth the stop.
There are a number of roadside parks to stop at along the way on U.S. 23. Stop, stretch your legs, and skip a few stones. Cheboygan is an Indian name meaning "through passage", referring to the Cheboygan River and Inland Waterway Route. Cheboygan is home for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, an extremely important vessel that keeps the shipping lanes open for freighter traffic through the winter season.
The Opera House, located at 403 N. Huron, in downtown Cheboygan, offers an outstanding variety of live performances. Audiences have enjoyed such attractions as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, The Kingston Trio, Roy Clark, and Donny and Marie Osmond. It is also used extensively by local community theatre groups such as The Rivertown Follies and The Northland Players. The Opera House is a member of The League of Historic American Theatres and the Association for Performing Arts Presenters. Call the Opera House for tour and show times.
Follow U.S. 23 North to Mackinaw City (15 minutes). Before you reach the city limits you will find Historic Mill Creek. This is the first industrial settlement in the Straits area. It provided finished lumber to neighboring Mackinac Island in the 19th century. Today, you'll see demonstrations at the water-powered sawmill and sawpit. Wander through the museum of natural history exhibits and audiovisual presentations.
This site is part of the Mackinac State Historic Parks. By purchasing a Mackinac combination ticket you will gain entrance to all three park sites in the Straits area.