Twenty-four park sites, some on properties that are owned by other governmental units, are maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation and comprise 1,260 acres. They include 8,000 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, four-miles of river frontage linear park system paralleling the Bear River, a 144-slip marina, a 72-site campground, a winter-sports complex, and an 865-acre forest preserve outside the City. Athletic facilities include 11 baseball and softball fields, 20 soccer-football fields, four basketball courts, 12 tennis courts, three playgrounds, two ice rinks, four sand volley-ball courts, a skate-park facility, and 18 miles of non-motorized and recreational foot trails. The City also offers about 30 sports and recreation programs.
Location: Along the Bear River from Lake Street south to Standish Avenue. Size: 36 acres, 1.5 miles in length. Main entrances off of West Lake Street and Sheridan Street.
Several local neighborhood pedestrian entry points as well.
Come experience one of Petoskey's best kept secrets - one of the Midwest's best whitewater recreation areas right in the heart of Petoskey. In 2010 the City of Petoskey undertook over $2 million dollars of improvements in the Bear River Valley Recreation Area including a .25 mile whitewater boating area in the Bear River. This improved whitewater course flows through an area that was once home to multiple dams and various industries - the Bear River has more fall than any river in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Today, you'll find a river that has been beautifully restored, with walking paths and look outs that will keep even experienced whitewater kayaks entertained and coming back for more.
The Northern Michigan Paddling Club was created after a whitewater park was created within the Bear River Valley Recreation Area. The Northern Michigan Paddling Club works to promote both whitewater and flat-water paddling in the area, and educating potential or new paddlers on gear and safety. In 2011, the club organized whitewater safety training, highlighting how to use throw bags and getting pinned boats out. The goal is to develop a comprehensive program for safer whitewater and flat-water paddling.
The Paddling Club regularly hosts events and training sessions for those interested in learning more about whitewater kayaking. For more information, visit www.northernmichiganpaddlingclub.com or call Steve Rudolph, Club President, at 231.330.8578.
The Bear River Valley also features steep bluffs, unpaved trails, concrete path, boardwalks, whitewater rapids, and forest areas all in the heart of the City of Petoskey. Natural forest and open space areas are rich in plant species and local history. The park is, for the most part, undeveloped and is currently used for primarily passive activities including hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, rafting, environmental education, and rock hounding. There are several large open grass areas and shelters that can accommodate group gatherings. Its natural setting and high water quality of the Bear River make it an important ecological value within the City.
In 2012, the City of Petoskey entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the North Country Trail Association that established Petoskey as a "Trail Town" of the North Country Trail. For more information, please visit www.northcountrytrail.org. The North Country Trail route through Petoskey includes the NCMC Natural Area, the Bear River Valley Recreation Area, and a section of the Little Traverse Wheelway.
• Unpaved walking trails
• Concrete Bike/Walking Trail
• Little Traverse Historical Society Bear River Heritage Center
• Several parking areas & access points
• Whitewater Rafting
• Pet Waste Stations
• Shelter/Picnic Areas
Photo Provided by Tim Knusten