Sometimes all it takes is a day trip and a shot of adrenaline to truly appreciate the laid-back, turtle pace on Mackinac Island. And what better way to get those adrenals pumping than a trip to Mill Creek Discovery Park? Located a short drive from Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, Mill Creek Adventure Park is close in proximity, but feels a million miles away from island life.
Formerly known as The Historic Mill Creek State Park — one of the oldest industrial sites on the Upper Great Lakes — the state park, nature preserve, and historic site offers something for everyone in your group.
For the History Buff
Established in 1790, for decades the Mackinaw Saw Mill harnessed the power of Mill Creek to cut timber into usable building material for Mackinac Island. Lumber from the saw mill built the Mission House in 1825 and Mission Church in 1829. Operations continued on the island until the 1830s, after which the land was abandoned and eventually forgotten. Today — after extensive work to revitalize the park to its former, historic glory — visitors can see the saw mill in action during demonstrations every hour.
For the Nature Lover
Spread-out across 600 acres and over three miles of groomed hiking trails, take in the lush forest, wildflowers, and scenic views with guided hikes from expert naturalists twice a day (at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.) or, at your leisure. After a long afternoon exploring the trails and appreciating the diverse wildlife, rest assured that lunch options and beverages are available in the Visitor’s Center.
For the Dare Devil
Take things up a notch — or two, or three — on the Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park Adventure Tour. This guided nature experience takes its brave participants across the Forest Canopy Bridge and to the site’s 50-foot Nature Trail Climbing Wall and Eagle’s Flight Zip Line which extends 425 feet through the park.
Finally, anyone can appreciate the view from 72 steps above Lake Huron at the top of the five-story Treetop Discovery Tower. Gaze out across layers of layers of green trees and see the sparkling Straits of Mackinac from a whole new perspective.