Wednesday, April 25, 2018

5 Nature Trails to Explore in the Blue Water Area

As Michigan’s earth begins to flush with color again, the bright vegetation and spring breezes are a refreshing boost in the Blue Water Area.  If you are ready to get outside and enjoy the natural wonders that sprout on this beautiful planet, along with a few man-made additions that make it a little easier on us humans, here are 5 nature trails to check out this spring:

Fort Gratiot Bike Path & Nature Preserve – Keewahdin Road, Fort Gratiot

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You’d never guess this nature preserve is a stone’s throw from one of the busiest commercial corridors in the Blue Water Area (one entrance is right behind Meijer in Fort Gratiot).  This park is easily accessible and once you’re there, the buzz of traffic fades away to the hum of nature in its glory.  The nature preserve expands across 90 acres of woodland, ponds, wetlands and trails.  The wide, paved walking path takes visitors along serenely wooded terrain and makes a complete loop around the large pond.  The pond is a fond spot for swans and birds, plus it’s open for catch-and-release fishing.  An observation deck lets visitors lean over for a closer look at the fish, frogs, turtles and other active pond species.
Walking Terrain: paved path
Distance: 3.7 miles

Chrysler Beach Riverfront – River Road, Marysville

This riverfront park and trail weaves along the St. Clair River waterfront.  Its living shoreline means that instead of a seawall along the water, there is cobble, rocks and aquatic plants that provide a habitat in which fish can live and spawn.  Native plants are now flourishing here and have encouraged the return of natural wildlife.  A gazebo and several seating areas make for good resting spots and give walkers a chance to enjoy the river view and perhaps the passing freighter traffic.  The dazzling blue of the St. Clair River plus the fresh green plants waking from their winter slumber are sure to get your blood pumping and ready for a spring adventure.
Walking Terrain: concrete and composite wood path
Distance: 1+ miles

BP Dome Petroleum Nature Trail – Fred Moore Highway, St. Clair

This trail was established especially for pleasant walks through woods and along the Pine River.  When you’re ready for a rest, take a pit stop at Turtle Beach where there’s a pavilion and lounging spot alongside the peaceful river.  River wildlife is abundant here, so keep an eye out for turtles, ducks, fish mink and maybe a kayaker or two. 
Terrain: dirt path
Distance: 2.5 miles

Backus Nature Trail – Harbor Beach

This is a great trail for a peaceful walk through the woods.  Watch for wildlife and appreciate the mature forest’s tall trees and vibrant plant life.  The path meanders through wooded areas and features boardwalks and bridges over the natural stream that runs through the woods.  The trail connects to the Harbor View Trail which is a paved, two-mile stretch of path linking the northern part of town to the marina and downtown.  The Backus Nature Trail was created in memory of PFC Brian Backus who lost his life in 2011 while serving in the United States Army.  A gazebo is expected to be completed this summer on the east side of the trail, honor all military service members.
Walking Terrain: grass and mulch path, wooden bridges
Distance: 2+ miles

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Brews In The Blue

"Local Beer" in the Blue Water Area goes back to the mid 19th century. According to the website Old Breweries the first documented brewery in the region was the J. Stein Brewery which opened for business in 1856.

In the 1901 city directory, there were two breweries listed in the city of Port Huron itself and, save for the years of prohibition, the C. Kern Brewery was in business at 511 River St. brewing it's flagship Cream of Michgan Cream ale as well as Old Dominion and other styles until it closed in 1950.

Over the last couple of decades, tastes have shifted back towards regional flavors and craft workmanship when it comes to sipping a beer and our region has some great options to do just that.

Located in the Riverview Plaza, St Clair's War Water Brewery started making and selling beer in July 2015. Since it's opening the brewery has grown and in 2017 embarked on $5 million expansion in the plaza and in the city.

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Before 2018, War Water did not offer any in house food options but that changed when Anchor Point Bistro opened inside the brewery's location serving things such as flatbreads, subs, wraps and sandwiches that have a huge emphasis on fresh preparation and ingredients.

About a 10 minute drive north of War Water is the Harsens Island Brewery in Marysville. Opened in 2015 in a building that used to be a Wonder Bread/Hostess bakery by Brian Phinney and his father Spencer, the brewery has 8 different on-site brewed beers on tap.

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The Phinney's use regionally sourced products as much as they can for their beer. They also keep that theme with what they name the their brews, Tashmoo Steamer, a California Common is called after steamship which brought visitors to the area from Detroit between 1900 to the mid 30's and the Hump which got its from a popular fishing spot in Lake St, Clair.

Along with some fine beer, Harsens Island has some great food options too with a menu that has tasty appetizers such as their fried mushrooms and huge onion rings, excellent burgers, delicious salmon and a whole lot more.

Oh, and why is the brewery named after Harsens Island but is located in Marysville? The Phinney family owns a house there but found the island to be a bit too small to launch the endeavor. The building the are in is perfect for it.

Less than a 30 minute drive north up Michigan's east coast from Marysville is Lexington. The village of a little over 1,000 people is well known to roadtrippers for it's shops, beaches, harbor and marina but also over the past few years, the beer that the Lexington Brewing Company and Wine House brews has put another new thing for people to check off their listing when visiting Sanilac county. Open seasonally, the brewery got its modest start at the back of the Old Town Hall Winery tasting room. A couple years back, the beers started to become the main attraction for both thisty visitors from out of town as well as the locals.

Along with the mighty roasty stout Molly Malone, some traditional quaffs such as Ludy's Pilsner, the unique Tropicana Ale which is Belgian style ale accented by citrus flavors, the brewery also has a light menu featuring flatbread pizzas, sliders and charcuterie plates.

Weekend during the summer at the Lexington Brewing Company, the place grooves to live jazz, blues, bluegrass, folk and pop classics from a variety of local combos.

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