The following are some suggested itineraries, based on our own experiences with accompanying video clips to help you decide if it is a place for you. Feel free to select only one or two activities per day according to your family’s interests. For assistance or for more information, call the Oscoda Convention and Visitors Bureau - (877) 8OSCODA Have fun!
Like other parts of the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, the Oscoda-AuSable area attracted the early French explorers because of the abundance of game and other natural resources. The AuSable River was named by the French and means "River of Sand". Louis Chevalier was the first to establish a claim in the area, building a trading post about a half mile upstream from the mouth. Soon a small community of fishermen, hunters and trappers lived near the mouth of the river. The twin communities of Oscoda and AuSable grew by leaps and bounds when the logging era began. The river served as an avenue to transport logs from inland to the mouth where as many as eight lumber mills operated, some sawing day and night. From expansive docks on Lake Huron, great ships carried the timber to markets in Detroit and Chicago. Fine houses were built by wealthy lumber barons; schools and churches were constructed as the twin communities prospered.
We would go down the over 300 steps to the bottom and explore along the 1000 ft boardwalk that runs through out the springs. Along the way are a number of strategically placed benches for you to stop and catch your breath. These were actually more useful on the way back up.
When you reach the bottom it is a pleasant and tranquil spot where the springs gurgle out of moss-laden bluffs and into the AuSable under the canopy of towering pines. There is also an observation that overlooks the river.
This has been a popular attraction since the 1920’s and a very special place to the Native Americans. It provided more than just drinking water. Raymond Wabagkeck a Chippewa Indian Elder came with us to the bottom and described what the area meant to him and his people.
As we continued along the trail we soon came to the Canoers memorial A tribute to all of those who have dedicated their time and sometime a lot more to the longest most grueling canoe race in North America, The AuSable Canoe Marathon. Here we meet with Ron Rainack a paddler from the earlier days of the race.
The Lumberman's Monument was erected in 1931 as a lasting memorial to the lumbermen that harvested Michigan's giant white pine in the 1800's. The 14-foot bronze statue overlooks the beautiful Au Sable River ("River of Sand"). The three figures represent various stages of the historic lumbering operation. In the center, the timber cruiser holds a compass. To his left, a sawyer holds an ax and cross-cut saw. On the right, is the river rat using a peavey.
Etched on the granite base are the names of contributors of the $50,000 cost of the memorial. Many are descendants of the lumbermen that cut the pine. On one corner you may notice the words "Aitken Fecit," meaning "Aitken made it." Fecit coming from a Latin verb meaning "to make." The sculptor was Robert Aiken of New York.
The farther we moved along the trail the more dramatic the scenery became. I would of never of believed that something so close to home could be so amazingly beautiful.
Highbanks Trail is a linear trail system along the AuSable River Valley with scenic back-country views of the river from the bluffs on the south shore. The trail is 7 miles long, ungroomed and camping is not permitted. Visitors enjoy the abundant wildlife and may spot a majestic bald eagle. The trail begins 15 miles west of Oscoda with stopping points and parking at Lumberman's Monument, Canoer's Memorial, Sid Town and Iargo Springs. Highbanks is open year-round and there is no fee required to use this trail.
You know that the AuSable is world famous for its canoeing and I would now get the opportunity to do just that but not in just any canoe. We would be traveling in a completely rebuilt 1920’s era canoe. As we glided down the AuSable it felt good to end my day on the water that I had been in such close contact with all day. The quiet of the water allowed me to think about what a great trip this has been. I wish I had discovered this a long time ago, but I will make up for lost time in the years to come. The river was changed over a hundred years a go to what you see today. I hope they keep it this way. There is constant talk of how some people want to take it back to its natural flow. I really like it the way it is and after a hundred years I think it is now the natural way.
Whether it’s the public beach scene on Lake Huron which gives children fun playground activities and safe shallow water depths...or places to launch a watercraft and take advantage of the warm water temperatures and exciting sand hills along one of our inland lakes...or the tranquility of your own private beach where you can experience the most breathtaking sunrises while staying at one of our lodging facilities...you’ll find Oscoda a place worth returning to year after year.
When you come to play you’ll need a place to stay and Oscoda has the finest. Most lodging facilities are either nestled along beautiful Lake Huron or have exceptional private beach access. From spacious motel rooms and suites to the conveniences of kitchenettes in one, two or three bedroom cottages. And, for a couple’s retreat, you’ll find some of Michigan’s best Bed and Breakfast Resorts offering private beaches, in-room whirlpools and fireplaces and the most romantic and breathtaking sunrises.