Farther along the Lake Huron shore, several towns serve as gateways to incredible outdoor delights, including Oscoda, popular among canoeists, and Tawas City, a favorite among bird-watchers.
Oscoda sits at the mouth of the Au Sable River, famed as a trout stream and navigable by canoe as far as Grayling  and Roscommon. The waterway played a prominent part in the state’s early pine-logging days. At its most populous, the city’s population numbered more than 23,000, and the river was filled with pine logs on their way to the sawmills.
While the logs were plentiful, Oscoda grew unchecked. With the depletion of the resource, though, its population began to shrink. Finally, nature put an abrupt end to the city’s logging boom: A forest fire swept through in 1911, reducing the city’s heyday to ashes. The current population is less than 1,000.
As for Tawas City, its name derives from Otawas, the name of an important Chippewa chief. He’s honored in this stretch of Lake Huron shore many times over. The twin cities of Tawas City and East Tawas straddle the Tawas River, which empties into Tawas Bay, formed by a crooked finger of land called—you guessed it—Tawas Point.
Today, local festivals, such as February’s Perchville U.S.A., reveal the area’s popularity with anglers. Visitors can watch the boat-filled bay in Tawas Point State Park , which occupies the fishhook-shaped Tawas Point. It’s a favorite of naturalists, as much for the ever-changing landscape created by wind and waves during annual winter storms as for some of the best bird-watching in the state.
West of Tawas City, West Branch is a small town with quaint Victorian-style architecture, a downtown shopping district, and an outlet mall. It’s also not far from a popular recreation area, the Huron National Forest , and the road to Houghton and Higgins Lakes .
Given that the closest airports are located in Alpena  and Freeland, your best bet for reaching the area will be to drive here yourself. West Branch is situated just east of I-75. From there, you can take M-55 to Tawas City or U.S. 23 to Oscoda. In addition, Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com ) provides bus service to Tawas City.