Recreation

The Huron-Manistee National Forests are 976,043 acres of public lands across the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. With many recreation opportunities for visitors, habitat for fish and wildlife and resources for local industry there is something here for everyone. Each year the forest receives approximately 4 million recreation visits.

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Some Questions Answered

For all of your frequently asked recreation questions, including where and how to find a map, questions about passes and fees, and questions pertaining to specific activities we have developed a Frequently Asked Questions available on the website.

A Recreation Pass

Recreation passes are available through any of our offices. We offer a variety of passes so please check out our Passes and Permits page to determine which pass is right for you.

To Find a Campground/Day Use/Trail/Boat Launch

Not sure where you want to go? Know where you want to go, but can't figure out how to find the information on our website?

Recreation sites are organized by activity and by area/location. If you know what activity you want to do, just select it from the navigation on the left and you will get a list of sites and areas that have that activity. If you know what area you want, use the expandable menu on the right. For areas not along a specific trail or river corridor, sites are organized by their general geographic proximity to each other.

A Trail Map

We have many maps available on our website, including maps for the rivers and nonmotorized trails, located on the Maps and Publications page. We do not have maps for individual campgrounds and day use sites.

If you do not see the map you want, contact one of our offices to obtain a paper copy.

To Know the River Conditions

Visitors are urged to check river conditions with the National Weather Service, Gaylord Office, before visiting.

To Know Snowmobile Trail Conditions

To find trail conditions visit MSA Trail Reports.

To Know which Cross-Country Ski Trails are groomed

All winter trails are in the Recreation Conditions report below from December to March, and for nonmotorized trails will show if the trail is groomed or not in the "Area Conditions" column.

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Au Sable Loop Campground and Day Use Area Open to Visitor Managed season is from April 15 to November 30.
Au Sable River Primitive Camping Closed to Visitor Reservations needed from May 15 to September 30. No services after September 30.
Bowman Lake Campground Closed to Visitor Managed from May 1 to September 22. No services after September 22.
Buttercup Campground Open to Visitor Managed season is from April 15 to November 30. No services after November 30.
Cathedral Pines Campground Open to Visitor Managed season is from April 15 to November 30. No services after November 30.
Claybanks Campground Closed to Visitor Managed season ends October 15. No services after October 15.
Condon Lakes West Closed to Visitor Maintained from May 1 to October 30. No services after October 30.
Diamond Point Open to Visitor Managed season is from April 1 to November 30.
Elk Canoe Campground Closed to Visitor Managed season ends November 30. No services after November 30.
Gabions Campground and Day Use Open to Visitor Managed season is from April 15 to November 30.
Government Landing Closed to Visitor No fees/no service from Nov 1 to Dec 1.
Horseshoe Lake Campground Open to Visitor Open April 30 to November 18.
Huron Snowmobile Trails Open to Visitor Trails are groomed when snow is 4 inches or more deep.
Indian Lake Campground Closed to Visitor Maintained from May 1 to October 30. No services after October 30.
Lake Michigan Recreation Area Open to Visitor Hemlock and Orchid Loops - season runs from May 7 to Sept. 13.  Resrvations needed between those dates. These loops are gated when closed. Oak Loop - season runs from May 7 to Oct. 12.  This loop is gated when closed.  Violet Loop - season runs from May 7 to Dec. 1.  $10/night, starting Oct. 12.  No water - Oct 12 to Dec. 1.  This loop is gated when closed. 
Loda Lake National Wildflower Sanctuary Open to Visitor This trail is not groomed.
Mack Lake ORV Campground Open to Visitor Open May 19 to December 1.
Manistee National Recreation River Open to Visitor There is winter access at: Bear Creek, High Brdige and Rainbow Bend
Manistee Snowmobile Trails Open to Visitor Winter maintenance begins when snow is more than 4 inches deep.
Marzinski Horse Trail Campground Closed to Visitor No fees/no service from Nov 1 to Dec 1. This site is gated when closed.
Marzinski Horse Trail and Campground Closed to Visitor No fees/no service from Nov 1 to Dec 1. This site is gated when closed.
Meadow Springs Campground Open to Visitor Managed season is from April 15 to November 30. No services after November 30.
Meadows ORV Campground Open to Visitor Open May 1 to November 30.
Minnie Pond Campground Closed to Visitor Maintained from May 1 to September 30. No services after September 30.
Pine River Campground Open to Visitor Closes November 18. Gated when closed.
Red Bridge River Access Site Closed to Visitor No fees/no service from Nov 1 to Dec 1.
Reid Lake Open to Visitor Managed season at trailheads is year-round. Trail is not groomed.
River Dune Campground Open to Visitor Managed season is from April 15 to November 30. No services after November 30.
Sand Lake Recreation Area Closed to Visitor This site is gated when closed. The boat launch is not gated.
Sawdust Hole River Access Closed to Visitor No fees/no service from Nov 1 to Dec 1. This site is gated when closed.
Seaton Creek Campground Open to Visitor Open May 9 to December 1. Oct 12 to Dec 1 - Restrooms available, no water. $10.00/night.
Shelley Lake Campground Closed to Visitor Maintained from May 1 to October 30. No services after October 30.
Sulak Campground Open to Visitor This site is maintained year-round.
Timber Creek Campground Closed to Visitor Maintained from May 1 to September 30. No services after September 30.
Twinwood Lake Campground Closed to Visitor Maintained from May 1 to October 30. No services after October 30.
Wagner Lake Campground Open to Visitor Open May 1 to December 1. Gated when closed.
Wakeley Lake Area Open to Visitor Trails are not groomed.
Walkup Lake Campground Closed to Visitor Maintained from May 1 to October 30. No services after October 30.

Spotlights

Huron NF OHV Trails

Mack Lake Campground

The Mack Lake and Meadows Trail Systems traverse the western portion of the Huron National Forest, creating a 158.6 mile trail with 13 trailheads.  Two campgrounds, both with trailheads in the campground, are located along this trail system, or visitors can choose one of the many other campgrounds around the forest and trailer their OHV's to one of the trailheads.  A reservation is not needed for these sites, all sites are first come, first served.

This trail is open to highway legal OHV's 50"  in width. 

The Bull Gap Hill Climb Area is also located in this area.  The hill climb is a sandy hill, 2/10's of a mile long at a 30 - 40% grade. 

The Huron ORV Trail is a 45.4 mile out and back trail located on the eastern portion of the Huron National Forest.  This trail has four trailheads and is located near Oscoda.  This trail is open to highway legal OHV's 50" in width.

A 30.8 mile stretch of the MCCCT is located in the western portion of the Huron National Forest.  This trail is open to highway legal vehicles 40" in width. 

Au Sable River

Au Sable National Scenic River - view from Highbanks

The Au Sable River area has been used as a trade and travel way by Native Americans for many generations.  Early French explorers referred to the river as “Riviere aux Sables,” or “River of Sand.”  In addition to providing transportation, the river corridor provided raw materials for the Great Lakes region’s fur industry and the river has carried millions of feet of timber downstream during the lumbering era to sawmills or waiting barges at ports on Lake Huron.  This period of intensive activity changed many characteristics of the river and it has taken many years and ongoing restoration efforts to help reduce erosion and to restore aquatic habitat along the river corridor. 

Today, six man-made impoundments on the Au Sable River contribute a significant component of Michigan’s hydroelectric power supply.   For more information visit the Working Together section of the website.

The Au Sable River is enjoyed by anglers for its world class trout fishing.  Paddlers enjoy the calm, but swift paddling of the river and the lake-like atmosphere below the impoundments.

To download the Au Sable River, National Scenic River, brochure, with map, visit the Maps and Publications section of the website or select this link: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5325280.pdf.  This brochure is set to print on 11 x 17 paper, landscape (wide) orientation.  To print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper set the print area to "shrink to printable area", this will make the text on the page smaller. 

Pine National Scenic River

Pine River

The lower 26-miles of the Pine River was designated a National Scenic River in 1992. The Pine River provides a unique recreation experience for lower Michigan, supporting quality opportunities for a diversity of recreation activities in a relatively undeveloped setting. Canoeing and kayaking are the primary activities on this river, with much of the appeal being the fast water and light rapids. The Pine River has a river gradient of 7% and offers the fastest average flow of any river in lower Michigan.

Scenery is one of the most outstanding attributes of the river. The designated portion of the river contains a unique riparian landform with its deeply incised river channel and high, exposed sand banks. Diverse vegetation contributes to the overall "scenic" feel of the river. Tree species vary from cedar-hemlock, ash, elm, sugar and red maple, and basswood in the lowland portions to mixed oak, pine and aspen in the upland areas. There are small openings scattered throughout the corridor that provide habitat diversity for many species of wildlife.

To download the Pine River, National Scenic River, brochure, with map, visit the Maps and Publications section of the website or select this link: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5172185.pdf.  This brochure is set to print on 11 x 17 paper, landscape (wide) orientation.  To print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper set the print area to "shrink to printable area", this will make the text on the page smaller.  

Pere Marquette River

Pere Marquette National Scenic River - near Bowman Bridge Day Use Area

The Pere Marquette National Scenic River  is a sixty-six mile stretch from the junction of the Middle and Little South Branches east of Baldwin to the Old Highway 31 Bridge. 

The Bowman Lake Semi-Primitive Nonmotorized Area is 1,100 acres and has both the Pere Marquette and North Country National Scenic Trail going through it. 

Whelan Lake Semi-Primitive Nonmotorized Area is a 2,800 acre area located near the south branch of the Pere Marquette River.

To download the Pere Marquette River, National Scenic River, brochure, with map, visit the Maps and Publications section of the website or select this link: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5180864.pdf.  This brochure is set to print on 11 x 17 paper, landscape (wide) orientation.  To print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper set the print area to "shrink to printable area", this will make the text on the page smaller.