Three parks in Bay County are stepping up their games

Whether you turn to community parks for fitness, fun, or a quiet walk in nature, you’re in luck. Renovations at Maplewood Park in Bay City created a new fitness trail that’s ready for users now. Across the county in Auburn, a disc golf course is taking shape in a park north of town. Inside the city, just off US-10, the city is upgrading a path and equipment to make a popular local park more accessible.

Maplewood Park

Maplewood Park on First and Sheridan streets in Bay City was essentially a green space for the last 15 years, but the park has come back to life.

The fitness park serves everyone from kindergarteners to retirees.Three years ago, Burke Fitness sent a proposal for an obstacle course playscape to Bay City Parks Director Tim Botzau and Parks Supervisor Bryan King. The playscape works for everyone from kindergarteners to retirees. It offers options for people at different fitness levels.

“He (King) said it looked like fun,” Botzau says.

Over the last few years there had been a lot of interest in making something of the park, and when the opportunity came from Burke Fitness, Botzau approached City Commission as well as potential funders.

The process took three years, from cleaning up the park and preparing it, to bringing in the equipment.

Botzau credits the Bay Area Community Foundation’s Healthy Living Fund for helping come up with much of the $200,000 cost. Additional funding came from a Community Development Block Grant and the Northeast Citizens District Council.
Burke Fitness also provided grant money to defray some of the cost of the Elevate Fit 2628 equipment that now fills the park.

The obstacle course, which Botzau calls “ninja warrior style,” can be paired with an app for iPhone or Android to challenge friends and family members, or to track improvements over time.

The park is unique in the area, Botzau says, adding “this park has been a fun project to do.” You can see the park equipment on Facebook.

The Range

Across the county in Auburn, City Manager Dave Haag has a fun project of his own. A disc golf course is taking shape north of the city in an area dubbed The Range. Haag says The Range won’t be ready for public use until spring of next year, but the park is starting to take shape.

The 76-acre property is north of the City of Auburn by about three miles, but Haag says about a third of what was agricultural property is being converted into a park.

The parcel is located at Lagoon Drive and Nine Mile Road. Eventually, it will include the pro-level disc golf club, walking, running, and biking trails, a sledding hill, and communal bonfire pit. Haag says he also plans to incorporate a gun range, already on the property, and bird sanctuaries.

“The parking lot is under construction. We have ordered footbridges that will need to be assembled soon, so if anyone wants to volunteer, we’re happy to get some volunteer help with that,” Haag says.

The footbridges will cross both the Hoppler Creek and Dell Creek drains.

Haag says The Range, which will cost just over $290,000, is moving forward as planned. Phase One began with clearing fairways through wooded areas. “The goal is to plant grass this fall, have that take well and we should be open to the public next spring.”

Phase Two is electrical access and the final phase is building a multi-use pavilion and public bathrooms.

Initial funding was secured through the Bay Area Community Foundation’s Healthy Living Fund. Haag says the city also is planning a fundraising event to bring in more community support.

Donations for the project are being accepted to help defray the cost. Anyone interested in volunteering or contributing to The Range can contact Haag at

Improvements are planned to improve accessibility to Auburn City Park.Auburn City Park

The Range isn’t the city’s only park project. Haag says the city has also applied to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant to help make some needed upgrades to the Auburn City Park near US-10 on Nine Mile Road.

“The park path is deteriorating to the point that in some places it’s gravel. The path connects all the amenities and we want it to be ADA compliant,” Haag says.

Not only the park path, but picnic tables and benches will be ADA compliant. He says new heavy-duty basketball nets, and a pickleball net system are being installed, too, and is asking for help from the public to keep vandals from damaging the new equipment.

“There’s a lot of activity out there. There are a lot of good things going on,” he says.