Bay City State Recreation Area

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Trail Type:

Counties Trail is in:

Recreation Passport Required: Yes
Approximate Size: 2389 (Acres)

New Pop-Up Camper
Starting summer 2015, Bay City State Recreation Area will have a pop-up camper available for rent.

Bay City State Recreation Area has one of the largest remaining freshwater, coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes, the Tobico Marsh. More than a thousand feet of sandy beach and over 2,000 acres of wetland woods, wet meadows, cattail marshlands and oak savannah prairies make it an ideal staging area for migratory birds.


Bay City-Andersen Nature Trail
Trail Length: 2.50 (Miles)
Biking, Cross Country Skiing, Hiking, Vault Toilet

Bay City-Tobico Lagoon Trail
Trail Length: 1.00 (Miles)

Bay City-Tobico Marsh Trail
Trail Length: 3.30 (Miles)


Bay City-Group Use Area
2 site(s)
Group Use Area, Modern Restrooms, Rustic Site, Vault Toilet

Bay City-Modern
193 site(s)
Electrical Service, Mini Cabin, Modern Restrooms, Some Campsites with 50 amp Service

obico Marsh in the Bay City State Recreation Area is one of the largest open-water marshes remaining on the Saginaw Bay, but this area contains much more than just the marsh. On a short hike you can traverse several different types of habitats; from cattail marsh, to brushy shrub areas, to upland hardwood forest. The shoreline is layered with sandy dune ridges, which once were at the water’s edge, but were left high and dry as the Bay receded over thousands of years. A boardwalk, two 40-foot observation towers, and a floating marsh dock with fixed spotting scopes offer excellent wildlife viewing along the Frank N. Andersen Trail. The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center features displays, dramatic dioramas, and a spectacular multi-image slide show. Enjoy the Field Observation Room with its wildlife feeding area, new floating dock with fixed spotting scopes in marsh, new boardwalk along the Saginaw Bay shoreline, also with fixed spotting scopes for watching shorebirds. A new rail-trail connection to the Bay City Riverwalk improves access to the park, as well as providing an alternate transportation route and travel way for wildlife.

Wildlife Viewing

Good probability of seeing waterfowl and shorebirds almost year round. Watch for Caspian terns and black-crowned night herons, which are very common here. In May, you may see pike and carp spawning in the open water around the bridges and boardwalks along the trail. This area is an excellent funnel for migrating warblers in the spring. Bitterns are also seen here. Spend some time on the two observation towers to get a bird’s-eye view into the surrounding treetops. White-tailed deer are occasionally seen in the early morning—especially at the northern end of the trail. Hikers report regularly seeing otter, beaver, gray and red fox, coyote, and Blanding’s turtle.

Hunting is prohibited on Tobico Marsh, but is permitted on some of the outlying areas. See a property map for details.


From I-75, take Exit 168 (Beaver Road) and drive east 5 miles to the entrance of Bay City State Recreation Area. Turn left into the day use area of the park, and park at the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center. Stop at the visitor center to enjoy watching birds at the feeders inside the field observation room, or view wildlife close up through a remote hidden camera in the marsh. Stop by the information desk for information on naturalist guided programs or a map of the area.


  • Visitor Center – Exhibits, interactive displays, multi-image slide shows and other nature programs to orient visitors to Michigan’s unique cultural and natural features.
  • Year-round Interpretive Program
  • Hunting
  • Designated Watchable Wildlife Site
  • Playground – These play areas offer a variety of playground equipment for children.
  • Beach House – Provides clothes-changing area for swimmers.
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Picnic Area – Picnic tables and fire pits/grills
  • Picnic Shelter(s)
  • Alcohol Restrictions Apply
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Metal Detecting Areas

If you have information about this trail please fill out the Add/Edit Trail form.

References and More Info

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