Trails week to be celebrated around the region

ROCKPORT – Residents and visitors can celebrate Michigan Trails Week by taking one of three tours at Rockport State Recreation Area on Saturday.

Friends of Rockport/Besser Natural Area is hosting an event to showcase the state recreation area’s trails, both over land and water, Department of Natural Resources Park Supervisor Eric Ostrander said. Saturday is also National Public Lands Day, and access to all state parks and recreation areas is free. This includes Norway Ridge Pathway southwest of Alpena, Harrisville, Negwegon and Hoeft state parks and anywhere else recreation passports typically are required.

“It’s a bonus that we (are) able to do this and not have people be required to have recreation passports,” friends group President Carol Dodge Grochowski said.

To kick off the day, Bill Grigg will lead a tour to an improvised bat hibernaculum and talk about the project, Grochowski said. It starts at 9 a.m., and involves a short walk to a conveyor tunnel from a former limestone quarrying operation. This tunnel was turned into a place for bats to spend the winter with the help of several partner organizations. The project is nearly finished, save an informational sign to be installed nearby.

For those looking for a longer hike or bike ride, volunteers also will lead a tour to several sinkholes at 10 a.m., Grochowski said. Hikers will meet at Alpena Township’s picnic area, just north of the boat launch where bikers will meet. Those who want to bike should bring a mountain-type bike, as the 2.5-mile trail runs across uneven land, and everyone should bring water.

The third tour is by kayak, and takes paddlers over the wreck of the Portland off Besser Natural Area, Grochowski said. Erin Riopelle, Adventureland Sports owner, will rent kayaks for $10 to those who can’t bring their own. Reservations are required and the tours leave at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Call Riopelle at 255-7796 to get a spot.

Besser Natural Area is located off of East Grand Lake Road, east of where it intersects with Rayburn Highway and Dault Road.

Michigan Trails Week gives everyone a reason to get outside during a beautiful time of year, Grochowski said. This is especially true as people become more absorbed in technological distractions.

“The way things are going, everybody’s getting to the point where they’re sitting at home in front of their computers, in front of the TV or playing with their phones,” she said. “This is a way to get people back in nature, out in the outdoors and appreciating all the wonderful natural resources we have in our community.”

The event will be canceled if it’s rainy on Saturday, according to a press release.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at