Tag Archives: Port Austin

Oak Beach – The Gathering Place


The first thing folks notice at Oak Beach County Park is a just how large it is. Sitting on over 40 acres it sports a beautiful beach, a playground, pavilion for family gatherings and well maintained horseshoe pits. Across M-25 is a modern campground with a total of 55 sites featuring full services for camper and tent camping.

HorseShoeTournIt’s known as a great gathering place for horseshoe tournaments, family reunions and even local government functions and picnics.

Oak_beach1The pavilion offers shelter with great vista of Saginaw Bay on the sugar sand beach. 

Huron Nature CenterThe park is ideally situation between Caseville and Port Austin. Nearby attractions include Sandy Dunes mini-golf, the Huron County Nature Center and on Saturdays the Port Austin Farmers Market is a short drive away.  The larger then life art creation “Emergency Ark” can be found down Oak Beach Road. 

Emergency Ark

Campers at the park enjoy a variety of activities including complementary coffee, cookies & donuts every Saturday morning, movies (weather permitting), crafts and karaoke. All special events will be posted on the bulletin board in the camping area. Wifi has been introduced but they are still working the coverage areas out within the campgrounds. 

Reservations, pricing and further information can be found at the Huron County Parks page. 


Photos by Thumbwind and Flickr

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Pointe Aux Barques


Pointe Aux Barques, so named by the French because a certain rock formation looked like the prow of a ship. In 1896 Stanford Crapo, an official of the Pere Marquette Railroad, saw the possibilities of Pointe Aux Barques as a resort for Detroit socialites. Gradually cottages were built and the railroad ran club cars twice daily during the summer, bringing tourists to the Pointe and in 1912 rates were set at: Board and room in hotel, $14 per week; Daily rates, S3 to $5. But just before the hotel was to open, it was completely destroyed by fire.
At the turn of the century, Harvey Firestone owned two cottages, and for many years Michigan poet, Edgar A. Guest, spent summers at his cottage at Pointe Aux Barques.


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Point Aux Barques history


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Great Getaways in Michigan’s Upper Thumb


This 15 minute video is a great review of some of the highlights of Michigan’s Thumb.  With 150 miles of shoreline the contrast between the rocky, rugged Lake Huron side is toured to the sugar sand and calm waters of Saginaw Bay. The thumb region is a great area to explore.

This video is from Great Getaways, a television travel series that spotlights active getaway adventures across the Midwest and Canada with an emphasis on the outdoors.


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Michigan Roadside: Jenks Park


When I was growing up we would road trip all over the Great Lakes. Mom would pack a picnic basket and around noon Dad would pull off and have a break and a bite to eat. As poor college students we continued in this fashion. We would pack cold chicken, a salad, chips, some beer and pop and have a picnic feast. I realized that we have not tailgated while on a road trip in many years. It’s gotten too easy to find quick food at a carry out place.

Michigan led the nation with the development of roadside parks. In 1918 the Iron County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of land to establish Michigan’s first roadside park and picnic tables on US-2. This was quite likely America’s first such facility. 

This past weekend I was traveling up to the hardware in Port Austin and spied an official State of Michigan roadside park. I pulled into Jenks Park just outside Port Austin.  



It’s charming. Picnic tables and grills overlook commanding views of Saginaw Bay. It’s not a bathing beach so the water laps right up to un groomed sea grass and poplar trees that grow wild on the waterfront.  


 


There is bathroom facilities and an honest-to-God hand water pump.  


 


It’s worth a stop if only to take in the sites and think of times gone by. Jenks Park is one of four MDOT roadside parks in Huron County.  The others are:

  • Brown – South of Bay Port. It has an historical Marker for “The Great Fire of 1881.” A million acres were devastated in Sanilac and Huron counties. 
  • Thompson Scenic Turnout – Features 2 large grindstones and access to sandy beach on Saginaw Bay, picnic tables
    and benches.
  •  White Rock – Great views of Lake Huron and White Rock. Steps to beach, observation deck, walking trails connecting to non-motorized path on M-25. White Rock is a large, white, off-shore boulder used as a boundary marker to define the territory released by the Native American tribes of Michigan to the United States under the Treaty of Detroit in 1807. 

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