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Indian River Area Parks, Trails and More

Indian River is home to Burt Lake State Park and the National Shrine of Cross in the Woods. The area is a favorite for boaters and kayakers, who enjoy using the Inland Waterway.

Burt Lake State Park

With 2,000 feet of sandy beach on sparkling Burt Lake, Burt Lake State Park is a summertime destination in Indian River. The park is a relaxing place to swim, boat, and camp. A Michigan Recreation Passport is required for admission.

Burt Lake State Park has a large swimming beach that can be used by day-use visitors and campers. A picnic shelter, playground, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits are located nearby. A historical marker near the day-use parking area describes the Inland Waterway.

For visitors with boats, the park offers a boat launch on Burt Lake. The launch has two ramps and nearby parking for vehicles with boat trailers.

Burt Lake State Park is a favorite with campers. The park has a large modern campground with 306 camp sites. Electrical service and modern restrooms are available. A group use campground offers rustic camping for visitors. A vault toilet is available at the group use campground. For campground reservation information, visit the DNR's web site.

Indian River Parks

Devoe Beach Park is a nice small park on Burt Lake. The public park has a sandy swimming beach with picnic areas and a volleyball court. Restrooms are located north of the parking area.

Veterans Memorial Park is a small pie-shaped park along Straits Highway. It has markers to honor those who served in the armed forces.

Marina Park is a small park on Nabanois Trail. It has a boat launch that provides access to the Indian River and Sturgeon River.

Cross in the Woods

The National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods is one of Michigan's most visited shrines. The location is home to the world's largest crucifix, and visitors can attend mass year-round at the outdoor sanctuary or in the 1,000 seat indoor worship space.

In 1946, Pastor Msgr. Charles Brophy was inspired by Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha's practice of placing crosses throughout the woods and suggested a large wooden cross be the centerpiece for an outdoor shrine. In 1954, a 55-foot-tall redwood cross was erected, and a bronze sculpture of the crucified Jesus was added in 1959. The sculpture was created by Michigan sculptor Marshall M. Fredericks.

Around the 13 acre site, there are several other smaller shrines to visit, including Our Lady of the Highway, the Resurrected Christ, St. Peregrine, St. Francis of Assisi, and Kateri Tekakwithae.

For more information and mass times, visit the Cross in the Woods web site.

North Central State Trail

The North Central State Trail is a 61-mile-long trail that is used for snowmobiling, mountain biking, and hiking. The trail connects Cheboygan, Gaylord, Indian River, Mackinaw City, and Topinabee. The trailhead for the North Central State Trail is in downtown Indian River, across the street from Dairy Mart.

See the North Central State Trail section for maps and more details.

Bike Routes

Using the paved shoulders of M-68 and Straits Highway, cyclists can ride between downtown Indian River, Burt Lake State Park, and Cross in the Woods. The routes provide access to restaurants, shops, and the North Central State Trail, which has a trailhead off of Straits Highway.

Stay alert and obey traffic laws when riding next to the road. Before you go, it's a good idea to check the State of Michigan's construction database to make sure there will not be any construction on the road that can interfere with your ride.


Anglers enjoy fishing for walleye, pike, trout, bass, panfish, muskie, and smallmouth bass in the Indian River area. People often fish from the banks of the Indian River and Sturgeon River, as well as from boats on Burt Lake and Indian River.

A valid fishing license is required to fish on Michigan lakes and waterways, and you can get a Michigan fishing license online through the Michigan DNR E-License web site and at bait shops and sporting goods stores.

Boating and Kayaking

Boats of all sizes can be found on Burt Lake and the Inland Waterway during the summer. Burt Lake is 9.5 miles long and is 73 feet at its deepest.

The Inland Waterway includes Burt Lake and the Indian River and is a very popular boating route. The waterway can be used to travel to Cheboygan, Alanson, Mullett Lake, and Crooked Lake. The entire water route is over 38 miles long and is excellent for recreational boating and kayaking. The waterway is around five feet deep and 30 feet wide. The waterway was used long ago by European traders who navigated the route to trade with local Native American tribes.

There are three boat launches in the Indian River area:
  • At Burt Lake State Park, there is a boat launch with two ramps and a dock on Burt Lake. Parking for vehicles with trailers and a vault toilet are located nearby. A Michigan Recreation Passport is required to use the launch.

  • On Nabanois Trail, there is a boat launch with two ramps and a dock. Parking for vehicles with trailers and vault toilets are located nearby. Boaters can self-register near the parking area to use the launch.

  • At the end of Witt Boulevard, there is a boat ramp with a dock. The boat launch can be used to launch a kayak. There is no parking lot adjacent to the ramp.

If you don't own a boat, Indian River Marina and Howe Marine offer pontoon rentals. Big Bear Adventures has kayaks, canoes, rafts, and tubes to rent that you can use on the Sturgeon River.

More About Indian River

In Indian River, there are several places to eat along M-68 and Straits Highway. McDonald's is located on M-68, just west of I-75. BC Pizza, Dairy Queen, Dairy Mart, Subway, and Inn Between Bar & Grill are on Straits Highway. Pinehurst Inn Bar is on Lake Street, near the river.

Ken's Village Market on Barbara Street, near M-68, is a good spot to get groceries and necessities.

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