Big Island Lake Canoeing Area

More than 20 inland lakes nestled in rolling woodlands make up the Big Island Lake area, which offers secluded canoeing, fishing, hiking and camping opportunities as well as backcountry Nordic skiing in winter. The scenic area covers 6,606 acres and is primarily roadless, with limited access to three of the lakes for motorized vehicles.

Located about 22 miles northwest of Manistique and about 15 miles southeast of Munising, the recreation area can be reached from the east via Highway M-94 and County Road 437; from the west by Forest Highway 13 and County Road 445 or Forest Road 21,3, and from the south via U.S. 2 and County Road 437. From these roads, access roads reach into the area to Big Island Lake, Neds Lake and Byers Lake.

White birch, maple and aspen cover the wooded hills that surround the lakes complex; berries, mushrooms and wildflowers grow throughout the area. A wide range of wildlife and waterfowl, including sensitive species, may be observed-but should not be disturbed-in the Big Island Lake area.

Travel through the area may be undertaken on foot or by canoe, utilizing the chain of lakes and eight portage trails linking them.

Lake Facts

Portage Degree of Difficulty Length

Big Island Lake to Mid Lake Short, easy 102'

Townline Lake to Mid Lake Short, easy 200'

Mid Lake to Coattail Lake Short, steep 424'

Coattail Lake to McInnes Lake Moderately long, easy grade 1,046'

McInnes Lake to Klondike Lake Long, gentle grade 1,233'

Klondike Lake to Vance Lake Long, gentle grade, small hill1,799'

Vance Lake to Twilight Lake Long gentle grade 1,490'

Twilight Lake to Byers Lake Moderately short, easy grade 780'

Although there are no developed sites, rustic camping is permitted within the area. The Big Island Lake and Townline Lake areas feature picturesque bays and peninsulas. Interior lakes such as Coattail, McInnes, Klondike and Vance offer a variety of remote settings.

Campers should limit their stay at any site to 14 days and remain at least 100 feet from any lake to help protect and preserve the area's water resource and natural appearance."Pack in-pack out" regulations for trash should be observed.

Daytime temperatures range from SS to 90 degrees F. between late spring and early fall. Average annual precipitation is about 30 inches; winter snowfall averages about 160 inches.

The lakes and small streams flowing through the area offer a quality sport fishing environment in a secluded setting. Special fishing regulations of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources apply within the Big Island Lake area, consult the DNR fishing regulations guide for details.

Fishing seasons vary by species, some opening in late April and others extending to late November; fishing beyond ,November is not permitted. Size an a creel limits by species include:

Type of Fish Min. Size Creel Limit

Muskellunge/N. Pike 40" One per day

Bass 18" One per day

Trout 15" 0ne per day

Yellow Perch/Bluegill/
(Combination)5 per day

All others None

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »