The best thing about Michigan’s Cider Mills is most are dog-friendly. Ok, and the apple cider. That’s usually good to. September and October as the leaves change, one hundred, yes one hundred, Cider Mills in the state open their barn doors to the public to sample cider, buy it by the quart and more.
In many places, much more.
I was in Rochester, Michigan for the annual Rochester Writers’ Conference and, as usual, I took my dog Victor along. (Read about our previous adventures here). This time, we stayed an extra day and explored the cider mills in the Rochester Hills region, starting with the granddaddy of them all: Yates Cider Mill (1990 Avon Road).
First, because it’s big and most of the exhibits are in tents, only the barn where the apple cinnamon doughnuts are and the petty zoo (penned farm animals) are off limits to dogs. Visitors can see the water-powered double table press in action, first installed in 1876. Today it produces 300 gallons of fresh cider per hour. You can buy apples too – 16 varieties – yet most gravitate to the doughnuts, fudge and ice cream.
Second, you can run the dog along a winding creek beneath the colouring fall foliage… with a crowd of other people. Ok, that last part meant my cocker-cross Victor stayed leashed (mostly) but otherwise it was a scenic tour of the Clinton River creek, created when the river was dammed to provide power for the mill. A flat paved trail is easy to walk, but we veered off down stone stairs to hike along winding dirt paths right to the water’s edge.
However, if you’re looking for lunch, head to Paint Creek Cider Mill (4480 Orion Road) a tourist stop along the 9-mile Paint Creek walking trail. We walked a short section of the trail, behind the mill, along with many other people and dogs.
At Paint Creek Mill, there’s a full-menu counter service restaurant and patio sub-let by a different cider company each season. Even better, the patio is dog-friendly and Victor loved his hot dog. I loved the grilled salmon – surprisingly good at a counter service grill.
Down the road, find Goodison Cider Mill (4295 Orion Road). It’s a smaller, traditional family-run stop with a focus on pressing and selling cider, homemade baked goods and of course doughnuts. Best part is, I don’t have to leave the dog in the car to do it. A short drive away the 30-year-old Rochester Cider Mill (5125 Rochester Road), is the best place to buy pumpkins and sniff among historic farm equipment – Victor’s favourite activity.
Fortunately, he’s getting tired from trekking through the trails and sleeps most of the way home, while I finish the doughnuts and an apple or two.
TRAVEL GUIDE: Rochester, Michigan’s Dog-approved Cider Mills
- Rochester Cider Mill, 5125 Rochester Road;
- Goodison Cider Mill, 4295 Orion Road;
- Paint Creek Cider Mill, 4480 Orion Road;
- Yates Cider Mill, 1990 Avon Road.