Get your feet wet: Explore coastal wetlands of Lake Huron

Exploring northern Lake Huron’s diversity of coastal wetland ecosystems offers scenic recreational opportunities, enhancing community and coastal tourism development.

Northeast Michigan offers vast stretches of undisturbed Great Lakes coastlines, including a wide diversity of coastal wetlands from marshes to limestone cobble shorelines. The Lake Huron Biodiversity Conservation project prioritizes this region’s valuable coastal habitats for protection; and local communities envision opportunities to leverage these assets for ecotourism - both at the heart of our sustainable coastal tourism efforts in this region.  

Child walking at lakeshore image.These dynamic Lake Huron wetland ecosystems are home to a variety of plants and animal life. In a 2009 research report, coastal wetland researchers Dr. Donald Uzarski (Central Michigan University) and the late Dr. Thomas Burton (Michigan State University), estimated that more than 1400 species of plants and animals exist among Lake Huron wetlands spanning Michigan’s shoreline. Protecting these habitats is important for conservation of the broader Lake Huron ecosystem. Many resource management agencies, conservation organizations and citizen volunteers (including youth) contribute as partners in stewardship and in promoting coastal tourism opportunities in connection with these natural resources. In protecting these coastal habitats, communities are not only protecting Lake Huron ecosystems and local natural resources—they are also protecting invaluable coastal community and tourism development opportunities, improving community quality of life and attracting visitors who may value a more natural resource-based, sustainable coastal tourism experience. 

A visit to the Lake Huron coastline offers opportunities to hike, explore, and enjoy spectacular scenery and wildlife watching among these coastal habitats. How many Lake Huron wetlands can you discover?

  • Saginaw Bay is best known for its extensive network of coastal wetlands. The DNR Saginaw Bay Visitor Center offers an opportunity to learn more about the wetlands and abundant waterfowl. Located within the Bay City State Recreation Area, where visitors can visit Tobico Marsh, making discoveries in one of the largest coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes. Wildlife watching in these wetlands? Check out the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail.  

Lakeshore image.

  • Besser Natural Area offers a one mile woodland hike through a small virgin white pine stand; this diverse shoreline also offers a coastal lagoon, where you’ll see parts of 1877 shipwreck of the Portland (kayak or snorkel Lake Huron to visit the rest of this wreck, which is marked by buoy).

Learn more about Great Lakes coastal wetlands online, with Michigan Sea Grant. To explore more about diversity, ecological function, and issues facing coastal wetlands, be sure to read Between Land and Lake:  Michigan’s Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands by Dennis A. Albert, published by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

Visiting coastal northeast Michigan? Plan your trip by visiting the U.S. 23 Huron Shores Heritage Route website at

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