Bear Lake Getaway

The Bear Lake area is a favorite destination for nature lovers who want the quiet of a small town setting with access to a whole range of attractions and destinations. Bear Lake has the lake of course, but it has a whole lot more due to its proximity to the Manistee National Forest, Pere Marquette State Forest, Lake Michigan, the Manistee River and numerous historic and fun destinations.

bear lake signThe whole northwest of Michigan can be explored from this little traveled and pristine area.  The Bella Vista Inn  offers modern comfortable lodgings in a motel setting.  The Bear Lake Bed & Breakfast offers modern amenities in one of the historic buildings in town.

Day 1 - On The Water – You are within walking distance of Bear Lake itself. It is considered one of the best pan fishing lakes in the entire area. The Betsie River to the north is excellent for easy canoeing and kayaking. If you are after Walleye, the nearby Manistee River flows over the Hodenpyl Dam and forms another reservoir at Wellston. While you are at it, the trail and foot bridge along the Hodenpyl will lead to a hidden waterfall. If it is sunbathing you are after, the inn has a pool and there is a marvelous tiny hidden beach on Lake Michigan just a few miles away at Pierport.
 
Day 2 - Historic Destinations – – This part of Michigan can keep a history buff busy for weeks. Here are a couple of places that might be overlooked.  Bottle House Museum – The house made of bottles is now the Historical Museum in nearby Kaleva. It is the last of the 3 known structures in Michigan that were constructed of bottles that is available for visitors. This is a small town museum so you should plan ahead to make sure they are open.
SS City of Milwaukee – Anchored just off the road side north of Manistee, this car ferry makes for a most unique day trip and tour. This stop is great fun since the tour guides are very knowledgeable, making the history of the vessel and life on the Great Lakes come alive. After the Grand Trunk car ferry SS Milwaukee was lost with a crew of 52 men in an October 1929 storm, it was replaced by the SS City of Milwaukee.  Now a museum ship and a National Historic Landmark, the SS City of Milwaukee is the last unaltered example of a Great Lakes railroad car ferry. The museum includes a gift shop and a Coast Guard cutter that is also open for tours.
 
Day 3 - Hiking and Biking – The North Country Trail passes through the Manistee National Forest nearby. The Betsie Valley Trail showcases Michigan's natural splendor during a trip along the 22-miles created on the rails to trails project. Stretching north and west from Thompsonville to Frankfort, the crushed limestone and asphalt trail travels through Pere Marquette State Forest.  Another option is the Big M Trail Rail that runs more than 18 miles with a surface that varies from dirt to grass to sand making it a favorite cross-country ski trail and a mountain bike trail. There are actually four segments, each with varying levels of difficulty, from easiest to most difficult.

There are 8 nice golf courses close by. Stay and play one course every day or mix in a little golf with the Morel Mushroom Festival at nearby Mesick in the spring.