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Cheboygan, MI

Once You Go River You'll Never Go Back

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by Dylan

Cheboygan is a hidden gem in Northern Michigan slowly being polished. I was fortunate enough to have great grandparents who recognized Mullett Lake's beauty and built a cottage on the lake in the 1950's.  Cheboygan is home to the new Cheboygan Brewing Company, Pier 33 Restaurant, US Coast Guard's famed Mackinac ice breaker, Black River, Mullett Lake, Burt Lake and beautiful Lake Huron shoreline with Mackinac Bridge views.

Waterskiing on a big lakes like Mullett, Burt or Lake Huron can be a challenge because of wakes from large boats and constant winds.  Fortunately, there is the secluded Black River, located halfway between Mullett and Lake Huron off the Cheboygan River.  In Cheboygan you can ski on perfect glass almost every day of the summer!

Watch this video we made explaining a slalom waterski, wakeboard, wake skate and life jacket options.

1. Stay in cottage or rental house on the north end of Mullett Lake

Mullett Lake is enormous at 17 miles long and several miles wide.  Mullett has great bass and perch fishing with an alleged decent walleye population although I've never caught one on Mullett.  Saturday parties and concerts happen at the mouth of the Cheboygan River.  The western bays on Mullett Lake are usually stay pretty where the shallow sand bars meet the deeper water.  I like to ski right along the gradual drop off in about 5 feet of water.  Sandy beaches and sand bars on the north end of the lake beat the weeds and sharper drop offs on the south end any day of the week.  The Cheboygan River is on the north end of the lake, with access to Black River for skiing and wakeboarding or the DNR operated boat locks getting you out to Lake Huron!

2. Eat at Pier M33 on the Cheboygan

Pier 33 is a new restaurant in a building that has sat vacant for years where Highway 33 crosses the Cheboygan River just south of town.  It warms my heart to see new businesses investing in the northeast corner of the Lower Peninsula.  

I have to admit, my expectations were pretty low based on other local restaurants but Pier 33 has raised the bar for Cheboygan dining!  Pier 33 has the most creative menu in the area with excellent food at reasonable prices.  We ordered Lobster Tots, Coco Nut Jumbo Sea Scallops, and Prime Rib Sliders with crispy shallots and horseradish sour cream in brioche buns!  Four thumbs up!

Boat slips are available, plus there is a large parking lot and boat launch.  Pier 33 is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner making it a great option for boaters.  Their lunch menu offers $3.50 burgers with carry out on the water!  Outdoor dining is available on the deck.  Plastic adirondack chairs are spread out on the lawn.  Unfortunately, there is a gaudy orange snow fence around the lawn seating but my guess is the local health department required it for liquor license compliance.

Pier 33 has a nice silverware, wooden chairs, outdoor couches, is kid-friendly and the staff is very friendly.  We ate outdoors but inside was new and clean.  The location is perfect for access from Mullett Lake and Black River.  Pier 33 is a perfect boat lunch, Happy Hour spot or evening out for a nice dinner.  I will definitely be back.

3. Travel Like a Baller on Lakeshore Express Airline

Turn a six hour drive plus 2 hours of airport headaches into a 1 hour flight with 3 minutes of security on Lakeshore Express.  Lake Shore Express is a new arm of Pentastar Aviation that only flies from Chicago to Pellston on a limited schedule Thursdays through Sundays.  The plane has 30 seats, which are all first class providing VIP treatment to every passenger.  Drinks are included on the hour flight.  Security lines are non-existant.  No need to check in online or arrive more than 10 minutes before your flight!  You fly out of Pellston Regional Airport up north and Midway in Chicago.  Don't bother with regular terminals; instead walk right into the General Aviation terminals for executive private charters.


4. Learn to Waterski and Wakeboard

Few activities in the world are more enjoyable than skimming over perfectly calm northern water in mid August.  We are creating a How To video series for watersports.  Our first video explains the basics of buying the right waterski, wakeboard or wakeskate along with the correct life jackets.

Watch the slideshow at the top of this page to see the basics of how to start wakeboarding. Please share this page with anyone you know who is struggling to learn how to wakeboard or waterski.  Hopefully it helps.

Want more?  Check out this fun guide on how to name your boat and what fonts to use

View Once You Go River You'll Never Go Back on Google Maps

What Do You Think about Cheboygan, MI?

Adventure Rating: A-

Any sport that requires a floating jacket by law to save your life is pretty hardcore!  When you start jumping on a wakeboard or ditching the bindings completely and learning to wake skate, you are trying really technical watersports.

Locals Tip

Cheboygan is best viewed from the water.  You need to either have a boat or rent one from the many marinas in the area.  You can cruise the entire inland waterway from Crooked Lake in Petoskey, through Crooked River, Burt Lake, Indian River, Mullett Lake, Cheboygan River and finally out into Lake Huron which can take you anywhere in the world!  The trip from Crooked Lake to Lake Huron is about 6 hours by boat.

"eBring sunscreen and lots of water.  Keep dry towels around to use as blankets when the sun goes down." Meghann "The key to learning to ski or wakeboard is having a good boat driver who starts you slowly and times it on a 1, 2, 3 count so the skier is always prepared." Dylan

Geocache Winner

Be the first person to post a photo or video of yourself waterskiing or wakeboarding on the Black River to our Facebook wall to win the gift certificate to Pier 33!

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