Banks Township is enjoyable in any season and a great source of outdoor pleasure for locals and visitors alike. In the spring, trout streams and morel mushrooms beckon. Hot summer sun, sailing and swimming are popular on the shores of Lake Michigan, or one of the many inland lakes. Summer picnicking? Feast on the tasty fruits harvested at our local orchards. Hike, golf, hunt and camp…. Banks Township folks keep fit and funloving. Bike, or take a drive and enjoy the renowned fall color touring in this wondrous Michigan region with miles of scenic roadways, breathtaking in their beauty. Then, winter snows bring winter action sports like cross country skiing and snowmobiling on the hills for which Banks township is noted!
Ellsworth Community Parked consists of 4 acres on the West Shore of Ellsworth Lake, which is part of the Chain of Lakes. It is constructed on the former IDC industrial site. It consists of a pavilion, restrooms/multipurpose building, playground area, archery range, fishing pier, boat dock, walking paths/observation deck, Labyrinth, and sledding hill. The entire project was completed October 1, 2009 with the help of a NRTF Grant.
The pavilion is a 50’ X 80’ structure that can be used for festivals, family and social gatherings. The pathway is 1.3 miles in length with an observation deck extending into Ellsworth Lake. The Labyrinth is one of if not the largest Labyrinth in the Northern Midwest.
Click Here to view the Community Recreation Plan for the Village of Ellsworth and Banks Township.
A family festival full of fun, food, and fellowship sums up the Banks Township Community Center’s Annual Pig Roast & Games. This event is held on the Ellsworth Community School Grounds on the third Saturday in June. This festival began in 1981 as a fund raiser to refurbish the upstairs of the Community Hall. The event has blossomed into a Community Festival that draws up to 2500 people into town for the day! Activities include a parade, arts/crafts and flea market, a wide selection of childrens games and a 5K Fun Run/Walk. The main attraction is the Pig Roast/Dinner, complete with homemade pies for desert!
Community members remember the men and women who have given their lives in the name of freedom. The ceremonies begin early in the day as the Jansen-Richardson American Legion Post 488 gather to pay tribute at the cemeteries in Norwood, Antrim City, and the Catholic Cemetery on U.S. 31. They are joined by the Ellsworth High School Band at the Atwood and Ellsworth cemeteries where a short program is held with special music and speakers.
The entourage then moves on in parade formation to the waterfront in Ellsworth where a wreath is placed to honor those who lost their lives at sea, a volley salute and taps are played. For many years, Legion member and former Township Clerk John Kooyer organized the Memorial Day services which often included special music presented by himself, his sons and grandsons. Since his death, his grandson, Dr. Kurt Kooyer, travels from North Dakota to be master of ceremonies for the festivities.
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, in the northern portion of Banks Township, the park boasts beautiful sunsets, a sandy beach with a variety of birch, maple and evergreens shading the grassy picnic area on the bluff overlooking the beach. The lake frontage is nearly 300 feet with a total area of nearly one acre. The Township Board felt that this chance to obtain lake front property for the public use should not be overlooked and took steps to develop the land into a scenic park, beach and picnic area.
In 2017, the Township Park underwent renovations to the parking, pathways, pit toilet, and picnic facilities. The State of Michigan Recreation Passport Grant contributed $44,400 with an additional $16,000 from the Township’s General Fund to finance this endeavor. Universal Accessibility was foremost in the minds of the Township Board members when planning this renovation.
Encompassing the last mile of privately-held shoreline on the 132-mile Grand Traverse Bay coastline, Antrim Creek Natural Area’s diverse landscape of sandy beaches, fragile dunes, wooded wetlands, and winding ravines provides a rare assemblage of unique coastal habitats, including a spawning creek for Great Lakes steelhead and a home for two endangered plants – the Pitcher’s Thistle and the Lake Huron Tansy.
For over fifty years, the family of the late Harry Jones allowed public access to the property for recreational use. Mr. Jones kept in touch with Township Supervisor Paul Doctor and later Dennis Penfold, about potential for a portion of this property to be in public ownership. Upon his death, the family donated a portion of the parcel to Banks Township.
A plan quickly came together to acquire the entire parcel. With assistance from the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Antrim County applied for and was granted funds to purchase the land. Banks Township donated their portion as the local match requirement. The result has been that in December 1995, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund recommended that the state legislature appropriate $4.76 million for the purchase of the Antrim Creek Natural Area.
This was one the largest land acquisition grants ever proposed by a local unit of government. A permanent stewardship fund was established for the Antrim Creek Natural Area with local matching funds. These funds will be used to assure continued protection, maintenance, and care of the 151-acre Natural Area.
View of Lake Ellsworth from Wooden Shoe Park, Ellsworth, Michigan.
Banks Township and Ellsworth have two public access sites for boat launching on the Chain of Lakes. These sites are owned and maintained by the State of Michigan.
These sites are at Ellsworth Lake and at Lake St. Clair.
Within the Village of Ellsworth, located on Lake Ellsworth is a boat launching facility capable of launching medium size watercraft. This site has a dock, large parking area for trailers and self-contained toilet facilities. Lake Ellsworth connects to Wilson Lake and the south portion of the Chain of Lakes.
Just outside Ellsworth, on the south side of Lake St. Clair, is another boat launch facility. This site is suitable for launching smaller crafts and connects to Six Mile Lake and the upper Chain of Lakes via a shallow river through the Six Mile Lake Nature Conservancy property.
Banks Township and the Village of Ellsworth jointly fund a Summer Recreation Program for children ages four through teens that includes T-Ball, Little League Baseball, and Girls Softball. Additionally, there are adult softball leagues that are organized. The Little League and Girls Softball teams travel to surrounding communities for inter-league games. The Village of Ellsworth administers the program. For information, please contact the Village Office at 231-588-7411.