Bear Creek Nature Park is an impressively clean 107-acre park on West Snell road just east of Orion road in Rochester. The park is maintained by the Charter Township of Oakland Parks and Recreation Commission.
Click HERE for a large photo gallery featuring photos of the amenities of Bear Creek Nature Park.
Click HERE for a trail map of Bear Creak Nature Park.
Looks are deceiving when you first pull into the parking lot at Bear Creek. The parking lot is very small and the main park building is a large, locked shed with minimal information on the park surrounding it. There isn't a large indoor bathroom facility, just attached port-o-john units attached to the main building. I'm not saying this to discourage you from visiting; I was quite impressed with Bear Creek once I got to exploring it.
In the front area of Bear Creek Nature Park is a large, open field. Attached to the scenic field is a fairly large playscape for kids. The pavilion is very modern and features large picnic tables and a huge BBQ grill. The rentable shelter is very sturdy and looks very new.
The allure of Bear Creek Nature Park is the path and trail system. They're meticulously cared-for. The most impressive facet of the trails is that many of the paths are 8' wide limestone trails that are ADA accessible. No stumbling over tree roots and uneven surfaces! The Bear Creek Nature Park trail map lists the extensive 8' paths, limestone trails, woodchip trails and open field mowed trails. Even the smaller mowed trails are extremely well-kept. This trail system is as perfect as it gets (and safe) for rigorous exercise as it is for a leisurely stroll! Horses and dogs are both welcome. There are outlets for doggy-do bags and numerous resting benches along the path. Dogs are required to be on a leash. I encountered some horseback riders (see pics). In addition to the dog walkers & and equestrians, I encountered many deer (see pics) along the well-manicured paths!
Even if you aren't locked into using the paths for exercise, the Bear Creek Nature Park trails are great for spotting wildlife. The observation decks surrounding the marshlands provide plenty of opportunities to spot birds, waterfowl, turtles and frogs in addition to deer. The park provides an excellent mix of marshy lowlands, rolling meadows, rustic, open fields and hardwood forest to seek out the natural habitat those areas provide.
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Bear Creek Nature Park also features an ice skating pond deep inside the park. I highly recommend the trail map to find it as the path system can be confusing for first-time visitors. The pond is also quite a walk from the parking lot so it may not be ideal to use as a skating location. Other winter recommendations for Bear Creek Nature Park include cross-country skiing and sledding.
Click here for a list of more outdoor ice-skating ponds and winter activities in the area.
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For pavilion rental information, call the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Department at 248-651-7810.
Bear Creek Nature Park
740 West Snell
Rochester, Michigan 48306