Nestled in the heart of Michigan’s northern lower peninsula, Roscommon offers small town charm paired with abundant lakes and forests.
With a population under 1,000 people, Roscommon provides a peaceful setting to enjoy the natural beauty of this region. Outdoor recreation including boating, fishing, hiking and golf draws visitors from across the state.
1. Hiking the Jack Pine Trail
For an immersive outdoor experience, I love hiking the peaceful Jack Pine Trail located right in town. This crushed limestone rail-trail stretches over 13 miles between Roscommon and Lake, passing through serene wooded areas.
As I walk or bike the trail, tall pines tower overhead and ferns carpet the forest floor. Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer and wild turkeys along the way.
The trail has some gentle hills but nothing too challenging. Benches scattered along the path provide spots to stop and listen to the bird songs or views of the nearby lakes.
With its easily accessible location, tranquil forests and scenic outlooks, the Jack Pine Trail is perfect for reconnecting with nature just minutes from downtown Roscommon.
2. Boating & Fishing on Higgins Lake
As one of the largest inland lakes in Michigan, Higgins Lake offers some of the best boating and fishing around. From the Roscommon area, it’s about a 15 minute drive to reach the lake and public boat launches.
When I want a day on the water, I pack up my boat and head out fishing – Higgins Lake is known for trout, pike, walleye and more. On calm days, I like to paddle my kayak across the crystal clear water to take in the scenic views and maybe glimpse loons and other wildlife.
When the weather is warm, swimming and water sports are popular as well since the lake is refreshingly brisk but not too chilly. With over 20,000 acres to explore and great fishing, Higgins Lake is a premier destination for boating and outdoor fun.
3. Canada Creek Ranch
For a fun taste of the cowboy life, I love visiting Canada Creek Ranch located a few miles outside Roscommon. This all-inclusive ranch resort offers scenic horseback trail rides for all skill levels.
Their horses are extremely gentle – even first-time riders will feel comfortable. At the end of the ride, you can sit around the campfire for a cookout lunch or dinner with live music.
Accommodations range from cozy lodges to rustic bunkhouses if you want to fully immerse yourself in the ranch experience. Kids and adults alike will love activities like wagon rides, cowboy-style entertainment, and arts and crafts.
With its beautiful equestrian setting and traditional ranch fun, Canada Creek Ranch provides a unique and memorable getaway.
4. Elk Viewing at Kirtland’s Warbler Wildlife Management Area
The forests of Kirtland’s Warbler WMA provide habitat for one of the largest elk herds in the Midwest, making this one of the best spots in Michigan to see elk.
Home to over 1,000 elk, Kirtland’s Warbler Wildlife Management Area offers a premier place to witness these magnificent creatures. My favorite times to visit are dawn and dusk, when the elk are most active.
I’ve seen large herds grazing in the meadows and bull elk butting antlers during the fall breeding season. The best viewing areas are along Prudenville and Alberta Roads.
Interpretive kiosks provide background on the elk reintroduction efforts. In addition to the elk, keep watch for other wildlife including sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, and even wolves. With over 43,000 acres of prime elk habitat, Kirtland’s Warbler WMA is every wildlife lover’s dream.
5. Forest Dunes Golf Club
Address: 6376 Forest Dunes Dr, Roscommon, MI 48653
For an unforgettable day on the links, I head to the nationally renowned Forest Dunes Golf Club located right in Roscommon. This public course designed by golf architect Tom Weiskopf incorporates the natural beauty of the surrounding forest.
As I play each hole, the terrain varies from hilly to flat to provide diversity. Strategically placed bunkers and water features add challenge without being frustrating. The impeccably maintained greens roll fast and smooth.
With its excellent course conditions, aesthetically pleasing layout, and inclusion on best U.S. courses lists, Forest Dunes deserves its glowing reputation. It’s one of my favorite places to spend a long summer day perfecting my swing amid gorgeous natural scenery.
6. AuSable River Canoe Trips
For an immersive outdoor adventure, I love canoeing along the pristine AuSable River. On a guided trip, all gear is provided as you paddle downstream taking in the sights.
The guides identify birds, plant life and point out beaver dams along the way. Paddling across the glassy river surface with trees reflecting overhead is so serene.
At night we camp along the riverbank, falling asleep to the chorus of crickets and frogs. With options ranging from day trips to week-long expeditions, the AuSable River offers a scenic and rejuvenating Michigan outdoor experience away from the crowds.
Gliding across the AuSable’s tranquil waters by canoe or kayak truly connects you to the natural world.
7. Robert J. Parks Library
When I’m looking for a cozy indoor activity, I often pass the time at the Robert J. Parks Library in downtown Roscommon. First opened in 1887, this historic building houses over 50,000 books covering topics from Michigan history to the latest bestsellers.
Find a comfy chair and enjoy some page-turning. With amenities like public computers, WiFi, DVDs, and audiobooks, the library has something for all interests. Don’t miss out on community events like children’s story time, book clubs, and guest author talks.
The friendly staff are always happy to provide reading suggestions too! With its historic charm, robust collections, and community programs, the Robert J. Parks Library is a treasured fixture in Roscommon.
8. Remote Outpost Brewing Company
Located a quick 15 minutes from Roscommon, Remote Outpost Brewing Company has fast become one of my favorite local hangs thanks to their creative craft beers and chill vibe. This brewery crafts a rotating lineup of brews like IPAs, stouts, porters and Belgian-style beers. Outdoor seating and food trucks enhance the tasting experience.
Their IPAs showcase the best of Michigan-grown hops. For darker brews, try the coffee porter or blueberry stout.
The recipes rotate often so there’s always something new on tap. When the weather is nice, the outdoor beer garden with picnic tables is the place to be.
Food trucks are on site regularly as well. With its serene rural setting, one-of-a-kind brews, and relaxing patio space, Remote Outpost is a can’t-miss destination for beer lovers.
9. Riding the AuSable Valley Railroad
All aboard at the AuSable Valley Railroad in downtown Roscommon! This family-friendly vintage train provides scenic rides through the lush forest areas along the East Branch of the AuSable River.
During the ride, you’ll cross over trestle bridges, view wetlands, and maybe even spot wildlife like bald eagles. The standard 1.5 hour excursion gives you a relaxing overview of the beautiful local landscape.
Or extend your trip to 4 hours with their dinnertrain ride featuring an onboard multi-course meal in a restored dining car – a truly memorable experience. With its classic cars winding past tranquil scenery, the AuSable Valley Railroad offers nostalgia and nature in one delightful package.
Boasting small town charm and abundant natural beauty, Roscommon offers the perfect blend of relaxation and outdoor adventure. Whether you’re an avid golfer, boater, hiker, or simply looking to unwind, you’ll find myriad ways to enjoy your time in Roscommon.
With its cozy community feel paired with easy access to lakes, rivers, and woods, Roscommon provides an idyllic Up North Michigan getaway.