Frequently Asked Questions About Recreation

How to use this Frequently Asked Questions

Select a question from one of the drop down menus and you will be brought directly to the answer. Some questions are in one than more dropdown, but the answer is only provided in one location on the page. For any additional comments, questions or concerns contact the Web Manager at r9_hmnf_website@fs.fed.us.

 

General Questions

 

Passes, Permits and Fees

 

Outfitters and Guides

 

 

Camping

Fishing

 

Hunting/Target Shooting/Trapping

Motorized Trails - OHV and Snowmobiles

 

Nonmotorized Trails: Hiking, Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing and Horseback Riding

 

Other Recreation Activities

 

Water Activities

 

 

 

General Questions

 

Where is the entrance to the Huron-Manistee National Forests?

There is no one entrance to the National Forests as there are with National Parks. While on some maps it looks as if the Forests are large chunks of unbroken land, the Forest Service system lands are interspersed within chunks of privately owned or state owned land, creating a checkerboard of private and federal land across the northern portion of the lower peninsula.

There are multiple roads that lead into and out of the Forests. While this provides for better access into the Forests, it also means you need to make sure that you know what is Federal land and what is not. All of our maps provide ownership information and it is recommended that you obtain a map by visiting the Maps and Publications section before visiting.

 

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How do I get weather alerts or emergency information while at a site?

Weather alerts can be provided by adding the zip code for the area you are visiting to your favorite weather app for your smartphone or setting up a weather service to send you emails or text messages for that area from their website. You can look up zip codes on the United States Postal Service website ZIP Code Look Up page.

Any closures, alerts or notices for the Forests are posted on our website in Alerts and Notices. These alerts can be set up as an RSS feed.

 

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What areas don't have cell/data coverage?

Cell phone/data coverage depends entirely on where you are. Some areas have better coverage than others. Some have no coverage at all. You will need to check with your carrier or look on your carriers website to see a coverage map to determine what your level of coverage would be in any given area of the Forests.

 

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Where can I park?

You can park at any of the day use areas across the Forests. You can also pull off along a road, as long as you pull far enough off the road to not impede traffic, no more than 25 feet

 

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What are the Forest quiet hours?

Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

 

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Are there bears in the National Forests? 

There are bear in the National Forests.  Visit the Bear Aware website for information on how to hike or camp in black bear country at Wildlfe Info.  

 

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What Endangered and/or Threatened Species are on the Huron-Manistee National Forests?

There are a variety of Endangered, Threatened and Sensitive species on the Huron-Manistee. From the well-known Kirtland’s warbler and Karner blue butterfly to the Pitchers Thistle.

More information, along with links to additional information, are available in the Learning Center of the website for Kirtland’s warbler, Karner blue butterfly and Piping plover. Information on Endangered, Threatened and Sensitive plants can be found in the USDA Plants Database. More information on species in the Eastern Region of the Forest Service, which includes Michigan visit the Regional Threatened and Endangered Species Program website.

 

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What Invasive Species are there? How do I find out more about them?

There are a variety of invasive species on the Huron-Manistee. Types of invasive species include insects, plants and wildlife. Examples of invasive species you will find include the Emerald Ash borer, purple loostrife, garlic mustard, and mute swans.

More information, along with links to additional information, are available in the Learning Center of the website.

 

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Why are there flower gardens at some recreation sites?

The flower gardens that have been put in at several recreation sites are actually pollinator gardens. These gardens are native plant gardens that not only provide nectar for pollinating species, but also help reduce maintenance costs at recreation sites through no longer needing to mow. A brochure is available about pollinators and pollinator gardens: Pollinator Recovery Efforts on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. This brochure is available on the Maps and Publications page.

 

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How do I find information on the recreation site?

If you know the name of the site you wish to visit, you can use the search function to find the sites web page. If you are unsure of the sites name but know that it is a campground or a site on a particular river or trail, you can look for the site by either activity or area.

If you don't know of a particular site you want to visit, but do know what activity you are looking for, select the Recreation option on the left side navigation and just select the activity you are interested in. When this option is used, sites will be shown listed by the river, lake or trail they are near. Sites not near a river, lake or trail will be grouped together by general geographic proximity.

 

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Do the recreation sites have street addresses?

The recreation sites do not have street address. Directions are located on the recreation site pages, along with Latitude and Longitude. In some GPS/Navigation you will be able to put the cross streets or Latitude/Longitude in to get directions.

 

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How do I print information on the page?

To print a recreation site page select print from your browsers options. The page will scale automatically to include all of the information on that page. Make sure to expand all of the activity information at the bottom of recreation pages so that it will print.

 

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Passes, Permits and Fees

 

What sites charge a Recreation Enhancement Act Fee or Concession Fee?

 

To see which sites charge a fee or do not charge a fee use this pdf: 2013 Fee Sites. To see what the fee is at a specific site you will need to go to that sites recreation page on the web site.

 

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Where do I need a Forest or Interagency recreation pass?

You only need a recreation pass at sites that charge a Recreation Enhancement Act Fee. If you are a site that doesn't charge a fee, you do not need a recreation pass.

Some sites charge a Concessionaire Fee instead of a Recreation Enhancement Act Fee. Recreation Passes are not valid at Concession operated sites.

For a list of sites that do and don't charge fees See Recreation and Concession Fees . For more information on which pass you may need visit the Passes and Permits section of the website for descriptions of what each pass covers.

 

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Do I need a permit to camp on the National Forests?

No. You do not need a permit to camp on the National Forests. Some sites do require a reservation.

 

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Do I need a permit to cut firewood for campfires?

If your campfire will be on National Forest System lands you will not need a wood permit to cut firewood. If you will be removing firewood from the National Forest you will need a firewood permit.

 

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Where do I get a burn permit?

Burn permits are issued through the Michigan DNR by visiting the Burn Permit website operated by the DNR.

 

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What rivers do I need a watercraft permit on and where can I get one?

Both the Pine National Scenic River and the Pere Marquette National Scenic River require watercraft permits from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Information on the permits, including where to get one can be found on the Passes and Permits page of the web site

No other rivers require a watercraft permit.

Sites along any of the rivers on the forest that require a day use pass will show what sites require a pass on the rivers site page.

 

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What is the difference between a Recreation Pass and an Interagency Pass?

Recreation passes and Interagency passes cover fees at Forest Service Recreation sites, depending on the type of site and the type of pass you have/need. Forest Recreation passes are for local use only, i.e. they are only good on the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

Interagency passes are good at most federally operated recreation sites in the country such as National Parks, Fish and Wildlife Refuges or Army Corp of Engineer recreation sites.

None of the passes available will cover the fees at MI-DNR operated recreation sites, you will need a Michigan Recreation Passport for MI-DNR operated recreation sites.

For more information on which passes cover which uses visit the Passes and Permits section of the web site. This information will include what types of sites the passes can be used at, what the pass costs, and requirements for obtaining a pass if there are any.

 

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What is a Recreation Enhancement Act Fee?

Recreation Enhancement Act Fee - More and more people recreate on national forests and grasslands every year. Meeting the increasing needs of these visitors, delivering quality recreation, heritage and wilderness opportunities, and protecting natural resources has become challenging.

The act defines three fee categories: Standard Amenity Fees (picnic areas, developed trailheads, destination visitor centers, high impact recreation areas - often covered by a day or annual pass). Expanded Amenity Fees (campgrounds, highly developed boat launches, swimming areas, special tours, reservation services), or Special Recreation Permits ( special events or trail systems - permits are issued when extra measures are required for natural and cultural resource protection or the health and safety of visitors).

 

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What is a Concessionaire?

Concessionaires are private companies that are contracted by the Forest Service to manage recreation facilities, such as campgrounds. Typically Concessionaires operate under a "Special Use Permit". The permits grant the private company the right to operate on and collect revenues from a certain recreation site. In addition, the private company is required to pay all normal operating expenses for that site. The permits are granted on a competitive basis through a bid process. Permits are issued under the authority of the Granger-Thye Act.

 

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Where does the money for the Recreation Enhancement Act Fees go?

95% of the money collected through Recreation Enhancement Act Fees comes back to the forest. This money is then used in multiple ways to improve recreation sites across the forest, from annual maintenance work to improving sites.

 

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Outfitters and Guides

 

How do I become an Outfitter or Guide on the National Forests?

Contact the Ranger District office in the area where you propose to conduct your services. Further information for being an Outfitter or Guide is provided in this brochure: Becoming an Outfitter or Guide on the National Forests.

 

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How do I report someone who is operating an Outfitter or Guide service on the National Forests?

Contact the Ranger District office in the area where the service is being provided.

 

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Camping

 

Can I camp anywhere on the Huron-Manistee National Forests?

You can dispersed tent camp in the National Forests, with a few restrictions. For specific information on the restrictions for dispersed camping visit the Dispersed Camping section of the website.

 

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What campgrounds have drinking water?

River/Trail/Major Road Recreation Site
Au Sable National Scenic River Au Sable Loop Campground and Day Use Area
M-55 Cadillac to Wellston Hemlock Campground
Pine Lake Campground
Sand Lake Campground
Corsair Area Round Lake Campground
Hoist/Reid Lake Area Horseshoe Lake Campground
Jewell Lake Campground
Hungerford Recreation Area Hungerford Trail Camp
Huron OHV Trails Mack Lake Campground
Meadows Campground
Lake Michigan Lake Michigan Recreation Area
Little Manistee River Bear Track Campground
Old Grade Campground
Lumberman's Monument Monument Campground
Manistee River Seaton Creek Campground
North Country National Scenic Trail Benton Lake Campground
Highbank Lake Campground
Nichols Lake South
Timber Creek Campground
Walkup Lake Campground
Pere Marquette National Scenic River Bowman Bridge Campground
Gleason's Landing Campground
Pine National Scenic River Peterson Bridge South Campground
River Road National Scenic Byway Rollways Campground
Shore to Shore Trail McKinley Horse Trail Camp
River Road Trail Camp
South Branch Pine River Pine River Campground
Wagner Lake Area Island Lake Campground
Wagner Lake Campground
Kneff Lake Campground
White River, Candidate Wild and Scenic River Pines Point

 

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What campgrounds recommend or require a reservation?

Reservation Recommended:

River/Trail/Major Road Recreation Site
Lake Michigan Lake Michigan Recreation Area - two loops
Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center Monument Campground
M-55 Cadillac to Wellston Sand Lake Recreation Area
River Road National Scenic Byway Rollways Campground

 

Reservation Required:

River/Trail/Major Road

Recreation Site

Au Sable River - 4001 Canoe Landing to Lake Huron Au Sable River Primitive Camping
Pere Marquette National Scenic River Bowman Bridge Campground
Gleason's Landing Campground
Shore to Shore Trail River Road Trail Camp - call Huron Shores office
South Branch Trail Camp - group site only
White River, Candidate Wild and Scenic Study River Pines Point

 

 

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Where can I camp along the Au Sable/Pere Marquette/Pine/Manistee River?

Camping along any of these rivers, within the river corridor, is limited to designated campgrounds and campsites. For a full listing of campgrounds along each river please go to the rivers site page.

 Along these rivers you must be at least 200 feet from the shoreline of the river:

 

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Where can I camp along a trail?

For information on non-campground camping on the National Forests visit the question on dispersed camping at the top of the campground section.

The following trails have developed campgrounds located on or near the trail:

Nonmotorized -

Motorized -

 

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I have children, what would be a good campground to take them to?

While all of our campgrounds are family friendly, we do have several campgrounds that offer amenities that appeal to children. Lake Michigan Recreation Area, located on Lake Michigan, offers a playground, beach, trail system and access to Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.

Located along the Au Sable River, Monument Campground provides access to the Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center, which offers a nature trail, interpretive displays and a variety of kid friendly visitor programs.

If your children will enjoy swimming, there are several campgrounds that have small beaches. A listing of these can be found under Recreation Information for Water Activities. http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/hmnf/recreation/water activities/?recid=18536&actid=82.

 

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What campgrounds are open during hunting season?

During the late fall and winter months there are several campgrounds that are "closed by snow" or "not cleared". These campgrounds are not gated or closed during the off-season, but they are also not maintained or plowed.  Their status will be set to "Unknown".

 

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Where can I camp with my horse?

Camping is available at four campgrounds along the Shore to Shore Trail, one campground at Marzinski Horse Trail and one campground at Hungerford Recreation Area. For specific information on any of the trails for campgrounds visit the Horse Riding and Camping section of the web site.

 

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Where can I camp with my RV/Trailer/Pop-up?

There are several campgrounds where you can camp with your RV, Trailer or Pop-up camper. A full list of these sites is located in the Camping and Cabins section of the website as RV Camping.

 

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We have more than eight (8) people, are there any group sites?

Several campgrounds have the option to get “double” sites, which are two single sites next to each other. There is a higher fee for double sites.

We also have several campgrounds with group sites, which are sites that can fit up to 50 people, depending on the campground. For a list of Group Campgrounds visit the Group Camping section of the website.

 

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Fishing

 

What are the restrictions for fishing on the National Forests?

The forest adheres to State licensing regulations, including size and quantity limits. Visit the MI-DNR web site for information on licensing, size and quantity limits. The state web site also has information on gear restriction streams and lawful fishing methods.

 

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Where can I find information on what lakes/rivers/streams have what types of fish?

Information on the type of fish available has been added to the site page for each recreation site that has fishing, showing what fish are in each lake, river and/or stream. A fish stocking database is also available from the MI-DNR.

 

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What areas are catch and release only?

Information on restrictions is shown on each recreation sites web page. Information is also available on the MI-DNR Gear Restricted Streams web page.

 

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Where can I fly fish?

The Pere Marquette National Scenic River has sections that are fly fishing, catch and release only. Please visit the site page for more information.

For more information on fishing seasons, and other places fly fish visit the Michigan DNR’s Fishing site.

 

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Can I ice fish?

Walk-on ice fishing is allowed on National Forest System lands. No vehicles may be driven onto the ice of any lake, pond, stream or river on the National Forest. Ice fishing is done at the fisherman's own risk. The forest adheres to State licensing regulations, including size and quantity limits.

 

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Where do I get a fishing license?

Fishing licenses are available through the MI-DNR. To obtain a fishing license you must contact the DNR or visit their web site

 

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Hunting/Target Shooting

 

Can I hunt/target shoot/trap on the National Forest?

Hunting, trapping and target shooting are allowed on National Forest system land, with some restrictions. To find out more visit the Hunting section of the website.

 

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Can I set up a blind on the National Forests?

Yes. Please visit the site page for Hunting for more information.

 

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I have a disabled hunter permit, can I use this on National Forests System lands?

If you are a disabled hunter with a certificate from the state, that certificate is valid for state land ONLY and does not apply to National Forest land. All Huron-Manistee National Forests rules and regulations regarding off-road vehicles apply to everyone who wishes to hunt on national forest land.

 

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Where can I get a hunting license?

Hunting licenses are issued by the State. Visit the MI-DNR web site for more information on obtaining a hunting licence.

 

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Where can I find information on habitat for a particular species?

If you are interested in areas of the forest that have been recently cut, please contact the forest service office in the area you wish to hunt for information. We also have some maps available on our web site in the Maps and Publications section.

 

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Motorized Trails – OHV and Snowmobiles

 

Where can I ride or find a trail map for OHV’s?

OHV’s and other motorized vehicles may only be operated on designated roads, trails or areas open to that use. To find what roads and trails are open to a particular use, visitors should obtain a Motor Vehicle Use Map. Visit the Maps and Publications section to determine the best way for you to get a copy.

  • Any road or trail that does not appear on the MVUM is not open to motorized vehicles.
  • Although county roads in Northern Michigan may be open to ORV use, that does not include Forest Service Roads.
  • ORV’s cannot be used for cross-country game retrieval.
  • ORV's can be trailered to and from nearby campgrounds; however, they cannot be ridden to and from nearby campgrounds.

 

For a full list of ORV regulations consult the MI-DNR ORV Handbook or the MI-DNR web site

 

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Where can I obtain an OHV sticker?

Please visit the MI-DNR web site for information on obtaining an OHV Sticker.

 

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Can I use my golf cart/Argo/Gator/etc. on National Forest trails?

Due to their width (57" +), most of these vehicles are wider than our trail system will allow (50") and will not be able to use the designated trails. Also, these vehicles are not street legal and cannot travel forest roads or two-tracks.

However, if the vehicle is registered as a snowmobile and has the proper trail sticker they may use snowmobile trails during the snow season.

NOTE: Using these tracked vehicles on snowmobile trails can become a safety issue because of the width of the vehicle. Our trails are 10' wide and have two-way trails. These track vehicles are 8' wide and will take up most of the trail, and can pose a problem with on-coming snowmobile traffic. Please be cautious of other trail-riders.

 

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Where can I ride or find a trail map for Snowmobiles?

Snowmobiles can be ridden on any of the designated trails through the forests. Maps of snowmobile trails are available on the MI-DNR web site

For a full list of Snowmobile regulations consult the MI-DNRE Snowmobile Handbook or the MI-DNR web site

 

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Where can I obtain an Snowmobile sticker?

Please visit the MI-DNR web site for information on obtaining an Snowmobile Sticker.

 

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Nonmotorized Trails: Hiking, Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing and Horseback Riding

 

Where can I find a trail map?

Trail maps are located on the Maps and Publications Page. Maps are organized by which side of the Forest they are on – Huron (east) and Manistee (west).

We are in the process of updating our free, on-line maps to meet electronic accessibility requirements. We appreciate your patience as we work through this process.  If a particular map has not yet been updated you can contact an office for a print version.

 

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What trails are accessible for assistive devices?

 Most of the trails on the forest are designed and maintained to blend into the natural environment.  Several trails are hard-packed native material that is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or stroller for either the length of the trail or a portion of the trail.  They are:

The Forest Discovery Trail at Lumberman's Monument - the whole trail is hard-packed and wide enough for assistive devices and strollers.

Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary - portions of the trail are wide enough for assistive devices and strollers.

North Country National Scenic Trail - a 1/4 mile section through Sterling Marsh has boardwalks wide enough to accommodate assistive devices and strollers.

 

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Which trailheads have drinking water?

Most trailheads located in developed campgrounds will have drinking water.

Trailheads not located in campgrounds that have drinking water are:

Parent Location Recreation Site
North Country National Scenic Trail Timber Creek Trailhead
Udell Trailhead

 

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What trails are groomed in winter?

Trails that are not groomed can be used for back-country cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

Parent Location Recreation Site
M-55 Cadillac to Wellston Big M Cross-Country Ski and Hiking Trail
MacKenzie Cross-Country Ski and Hiking Trail
Corsair Area Corsair Cross-Country Ski and Hiking Trail
Crystal Valley Area Crystal Valley Cross-Country Ski and Hiking Trail
River Road National Scenic Byway Eagle Run Cross-Country Ski and Hiking Trail

 

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Where can I go horseback riding?

A list of trails open to horse use is located in the Recreation section: Horse Riding and Camping. This section also provides information on campgrounds that are open to horses.

 

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Other Recreation Activities

 

 

Can I pan for gold/use a metal detector/rockhound?

Those activities are allowed on the National Forests, with some limitations. Information on gold panning, metal detecting and rockhounding is located under Recreation under Rocks and Minerals.

 

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Where can I find information on Kirtland Warbler Tours?

Information on Kirtland warbler guided tours can be found on the Passes and Permits page.

 

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Do I need a permit to collect edibles such as mushrooms?

You do not need a permit to collect edibles such as mushrooms or blueberries for personal use. Edibles collected for commercial use require a permit. To obtain a permit contact the Supervisor’s Office.

 

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Are there any fire towers on the Huron-Manistee? Where are they?

Yes, the Udell Fire Tower. For directions and information on the history of the tower please visit the Udell Fire Tower site page

 

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Canoeing/Watercraft

 

What are the float times and distances on the rivers?

The float times and distances for each of the rivers is shown on that rivers site page, under Water Activities - Nonmotorized Boating.

 

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What liveries are available on each river?

Liveries that legally operate on the National Forests are listed on each rivers site page. Only liveries that operate on a particular river are listed on its site page.

 

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Where can I find a river map?

River maps are located on the Maps and Publications Page. We are in the process of updating our free, on-line maps to meet electronic accessibility requirements. We appreciate your patience as we work through this process.  If a particular map has not yet been updated you can contact an office for a print version.

 

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