Huron-Manistee National Forest

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AuSable River, Huron-Manistee National Forest
AuSable River, Huron-Manistee National Forest (Travel Michigan)

The Huron-Manistee National Forests are unique in that they were created from abandoned farms and lumbered wastelands that were unwanted. Spending time on the Huron-Manistee National Forests, watching tall pines sway in the wind and lake waters shimmer while the ground is wearing the bright colors of spring wildflowers, creates a feeling of confidence in Mother Nature. It is based in the realization that if she can restore a forest to this level of beauty, with rivers that wind in and around the rolling landscape as if they were decorative holiday garlands, she can do anything.

The Huron-Manistee National Forests are located in the lower peninsula of Michigan. The forests contain approximately 964,413 acres of National Forest System lands, including 5,786 acres of wetlands. The Huron-Manistee National Forests are actually two forests that were combined in 1945 for administrative purposes. The Huron Forest, located in the northeastern part of lower Michigan, is approximately 60 miles wide east to west and from 12 to 30 miles long north to south. The Manistee Forest, located in the western part of lower Michigan, is approximately 40 miles wide east to west and 75 miles long north to south.

Points of Interest

The Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center - This 14-foot bronze Lumberman's Monument serves as a Michigan landmark to the early days of logging in the region. The visitor center welcomes you to stop by and learn more about Michigan's past.

Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary - The Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary consists of a small lake, a bog, surrounded by higher dry areas. It was designated by the Secretary of Agriculture in 1932 for historical, educational, and recreational purposes and is supported by Garden Club donations.

The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness was designated as wilderness in 1987, the Nordhouse Dunes Area in the Manistee National Forest is the only designated wilderness in Michigan's lower peninsula.


The Huron Forest has 12 developed campgrounds with over 270 campsites. The Manistee Forest has 16 developed campgrounds with over 400 campsites. Developed campsites generally offer a tent pad or clearing, picnic tables, drinking water, and toilet facilities. Some campgrounds require special use permits issued by the Forest Service. Refer to the Huron and Manistee National Forest Campground Guide provided by the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. You may choose to experience dispersed camping anywhere on the Huron-Manistee National Forests unless posted otherwise.

The Huron-Manistee National Forests contain a variety of habitats for bird-watching. Deciduous and coniferous forests, lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, and marshes support a diverse assemblage of wildlife and plants. In the Manistee National Forest, sightings of warblers, woodpeckers, shorebirds, gulls, eagles, ducks, hawks, herons, vireos, meadowlarks, bluebirds, sandpipers, and turkeys are quite common. Birds commonly seen in the Huron National Forest include loons, osprey, eagles, warblers, northern waterthrush, vireos, turkeys, sparrows, ducks, rails, and bitterns.

The Michigan Scenic Rivers Act, which became law late in 1991, has created a huge system of wild, scenic, and recreational rivers in the state of Michigan. Several of these scenic flowing rivers are found on the Huron-Manistee National Forests and offer exciting adventures for canoe enthusiasts. Many rivers have commercial canoe liveries operating on them. Permits are required for watercraft on some rivers. The Pere Marquette is one of our most well known scenic rivers. It runs swift and clear for 66 miles through a green forested channel. Other rivers that beg to be explored are the Au Sable, White, Big Manistee, Little Manistee, Pine, and Little Muskegon. In addition to its many scenic rivers, the Huron-Manistee National Forests offer many other beautiful and peaceful canoeing opportunities on lakes and ponds.

A wide variety of fish species are found in the Huron-Manistee National Forests' many rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds and are as good to eat as they are fun to catch. Boat launch facilities create easy access to lakes for avid anglers. The Pere Marquette River, one of the best fishing streams in the state of Michigan, is especially noted for brown trout, steelhead runs in the spring, and salmon runs in the fall. You will find that peace and tranquility are natural features of this river as well as large, tasty fish.

ORV Trails
Motorized vehicles that are licensed as ORVs (off-road vehicles) can operate on designated trails on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. The ORV policy for all trails in these forests is "closed unless posted open." Looking for an adventurous way to experience the outdoors—try an ORV!

Scenic Driving
The River Road Scenic Byway consists of 22 miles of two-lane paved highway, roughly paralleling the south bank of the scenic Au Sable River. Along the Byway, Eagles Nest Overlook, a famous view of the Huron National Forest, can be found. This spot has been used by a nesting pair of bald eagles since 1985. Other interesting sites include the Lumbermen's Monument Visitor Center, and Largo Springs, a drinking water source since pre-settlement days.

There is something for everyone when it comes to hiking in the Huron-Manistee National Forests. A 122-mile portion of the extensive North Country Trail passes through the Huron-Manistee National Forests. The southern half of this trail is quite scenic with hilly terrain and the trail winds scenically around numerous small lakes. As the trail passes through the Udell Hills, your eyes are treated to many breathtaking views. The Pines Point Trail features flat to rolling terrain and is marked with landmarks to alert users to changes in vegetation. The Jewell Lake Trail, a portion that follows the shoreline of Jewell Lake, is generally flat, offering an opportunity for a leisurely hike. Another unique hiking experience for hikers is the self-guided Arboretum Trail. Along this trail you will find many signs providing information about the nature of the area surrounding you. The signs are designed to increase your knowledge of the forest and your enjoyment of the trail.

Winter Sports
Snowflakes herald a celebration of seasonal change in the Huron-Manistee National Forests. Winter enthusiasts flock to more than 120 miles of excellent cross-country ski trails, some of which are groomed. Places like Hoist Lakes and Wakely Lake offer scenic vistas and challenging cross-country ski trips. Downhill skiing at the historic Caberfae Resort, located in the Manistee National Forest for over 50 years, features 24 runs, 10 lifts, and degrees of difficulty ranging from beginner to advanced. In addition to skiing, there are 727 miles of designated snowmobile trails to exhilarate snowmobilers. With an average annual snowfall of 57 inches, along with moderate winter temperatures, the season for winter sports activities extends from December to March.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 11 Oct 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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