Special Places

Highlighted Areas

Black River Harbor Recreation Area

Known for its spectacular waterfalls, idyllic beaches, scenic hiking trails and tranquil campground, the Black River Harblor Recreation Area is a popular destination throughout the year. Originating in Wisconsin, the Black River flows through forested areas of large pine, hemlock and hardwood trees. The River has a series of scenic waterfalls as it drops in elevation to meet Lake Superior. Tannin (tanic acids)from hemlock trees is what gives it its unique color.

The Harbor offers one of the area's few access points to Lake Superior, with boating being a major summer time activity. The boat ramp can accommodate almost any craft trailered in. There is no launching fee. Boat fuel and snacks are available through the concessionaire. Parking for trucks and boat trailers is ample.

A historic pavillion built by the CCC is also located here.  For guidelines on use of the pavillion, see the attached document:  BRH Pavillion Guidelines.


Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area

UPDATE ROAD WORK TO OCCUR SUMMER 2015: The Ottawa National Forest will be completing a major road and facility construction project this summer, which started during summer 2014. Please be aware of the following activities and plan accordingly:
• Road work will begin on Crooked Lake road on July 7.  Parking will be unavailable in this area after July 7. The road to the Crooked Lake boat landing will be closed for at least 30 days to complete a water crossing, with the exact dates to be determined based on conditions. Once the water crossing is complete, the road and parking lot at the Crooked Lake boat launch will be open for the remainder of the season, but minimal closures (several days in duration) will be needed periodically to complete paving operations. Delays of 30 minutes or less may be expected throughout the season as heavy equipment operates on the Crooked Lake Road.
• The CLARK LAKE CAMPGROUND and Clark Lake day-use building are OPEN for the season.

We appreciate your cooperation as we undergo maintenance to our roads and facilities. For current road conditions and access into Sylvania, please call the Sylvania Entrance Station 906-358-4404 or the Ottawa Visitor Center 906-358-4724.

The Sylvania Wilderness and Sylvania Recreation Area, is located near Watersmeet, Michigan and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Combined with the adjacent Recreation Area, this 18,327 acre wilderness offers an outstanding experience for those who want to camp, fish, hike, canoe, ski, or enjoy the solitude of a wilderness experience. Few Wilderness compare to Sylvania. Here you will find 34 named lakes - some with sandy beaches, others surrounded by record-sized red and white pines. This large natural area with its old growth forest and pristine lakes provides habitat for a wide range of living things. While exploring Sylvania you might see threatened or endangered plants and animals. Camping is permitted at designated sites by permit only. Permits can be obtained on a walk-in basis at the Sylvania Entrance Station or can be reserved by selecting "Sylvania Wilderness BCTRY Camp" through Reserve America on line at www.recreation.gov. Reservations can also be made by calling toll free, 1-877-444-6777. International calls can be directed to 518-885-3639 and TDD calls to 1-877-833-6777.


Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center

The Ottawa Visitor Center is located at the junction of US 2 and US 45 in Watersmeet, Michigan.  A new Ottawa National Forest film presentation showing the beautiful north woods through the seasons is shown every half hour daily during the summer months, with special interpretive programs on Thursday evenings beginning in June. The center is fully accessible and features exhibits, interpretive association sales outlet, and a nature trail. There is no charge at this facility. The Ottawa Visitor Center has been open to the public since May 1971. The mission of the Center is to foster understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the natural, cultural, recreational, and wilderness resources of the Ottawa National Forest. Through interpretive programs and displays, our goal is to help build public understanding and appreciation of our natural resources that leads to safe, wise and caring use of the Forest


Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness

The Wild and Scenic Sturgeon River rushes out of the northern portion of this wilderness, over the 20 foot volcanic outcroppings of Sturgeon Falls, and through a gorge that reaches 350 feet in depth and a mile in width. Throughout this rugged, steep Wilderness, the Sturgeon and Little Silver Rivers and their tributaries have carved falls, rapids, ponds, oxbows, and terraces. Stunning views are possible from the eastern rim of the gorge. Except for a few naturally bare slopes, most of the land is forested with pine, hemlock, aspen, sugar maple, birch, and basswood. When the leaves of the hardwoods change color in the fall, they form a vivid tapestry. There are few established trails in Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, and the few overgrown logging roads are hard to find and follow. The North Country National Scenic Trail parallels the northern and eastern boundaries for about eight miles. Sturgeon River Campground offers seven sites on the southeastern boundary. In spring and during peak runoff, kayaking and white water canoeing are challenging, and only recommended for advanced paddlers.


McCormick Wilderness

Three generations of McCormicks, the descendants of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the reaping machine, held the deed to this area before Gordon McCromick willed the land to the U.S. Forest Service. McCormick Wilderness has recovered from the logging era that ended in the early 1900's. Today, you'll find a mixture of northern hardwoods and lowland conifers interspersed with small patches of towering white pine, Michigan's State Tree. Straddling the divide between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, this region ranges from nearly level terrain to rocky cliffs. McCormick's water is what draws most visitors, with the Huron, Dead, Pahokee, and the Wild and Scenic Yellow Dog Rivers all have part of their headwaters within the wilderness. Many cascading waterfalls on the Yellow Dog make it unnavigable. The Yellow Dog is one of a few Eastern rivers designated "Wild". Eighteen small lakes add sparkle to the landscape. Trout, pike, and bass live here, but only in small numbers due to the less-than-fertile-waters. The three mile White Lake Trail connects County Road 607 to White Deer Lake where the McCormick Estate once stood. Remnants of old, unmaintained trails can sometimes be found, but the rest of the Wilderness is fairly rugged, isolated, unspoiled, and relatively difficult to access.


Lake Ottawa Recreation Area

Lake Ottawa Recreation area is in a beautiful forested northwoods setting located 5 miles southwest of Iron River, MI, on the Iron River Ranger District.  Located in the general area is Lake Ottawa, Brule Lake, Hagerman Lake, Brule River, Bass Lake, the Historic Mile Post Zero/Treaty Tree, The Ge-Che Trail, and miles of hiking trails.  Lake Ottawa Campground is 95% surrounded by National Forest System Land and offers a picnic shelter with two stone fireplaces and original log picnic tables, and two log toilet buildings, which were constructed by the CCC in the late 1930's. A pressurized water system and sewage dump station is located in the campground. Adjacent to the campground is a CCC era day use recreation building, with flush toilets, swimming beach, accessible fishing pier, playing field, picnic areas and boat launch.

For guidelines regarding use of the Day Use Pavillion, check out the attached document:  Lake Ottawa Day Use Guidelines.