Top 9 in Region 9 for Summer's Last Hurrah

As we enter into August, with the dog days of summer and back to school on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to plan one more amazing vacation to one of your eastern region national forests. To kick start your trip planning check out these amazing spots and hidden gems.

 

Michigan

Peninsula Point Lighthouse

Explore a historic lighthouse, go beachcombing along Lake Michigan and catch beautiful fluttering monarchs at the Hiawatha National Forest’s Peninsula Point Lighthouse. One of six historic lighthouses on the Hiawatha, Peninsula Point was constructed in 1865 and used until 1936. Today it is on the National Register of Historic Places, and visitors can climb the 40-foot circular staircase to find a spectacular panoramic view of Lake Michigan. After exploring a piece of the area’s unique maritime history, you can enjoy lunch at the day use area, which is equipped with restrooms, tables and grills. Be on the lookout as wildlife viewing in the area is spectacular! Local birding enthusiasts have recorded over 200 species of bird. And, the areas is a key point on the Monarch Butterfly migration during the summer. After taking in the view from the top, be sure to take a walk along the limestone shoreline for additional views of Lake Michigan. Plan your trip today as this gem is only open from late July to early September.
 

Lumberman’s Monument

Standing 14 feet with the scenic Au Sable River as a backdrop, the Huron-Manistee National Forest’s Lumberman’s Monument is your gateway to a super fun history lesson! The Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center interprets the area’s colorful lumbering past through fun, family-friendly activities. Climb through a log jam, use a peavey, cut a wooden cookie with a crosscut saw, check out a wanigan (loggers kitchen), and view the life of a lumberjack through video and displays. Be sure to take a walk along the Forest Discovery Trail which leads to one of two observation decks with awesome views of the Au Sable. For some respite, enjoy the visitor center’s picnic pavilions and tables. Adjacent to the monument is a fully accessible campground (Monument Campground) within a red pine plantation. Check out the Lumberman’s Monument’s 2017 schedule of events to find out which visitor programs you can still catch!

 

Minnesota

Star Island

Star Island is a hidden gem in Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest. Situated in the middle of Cass Lake, access to the Island is by boat or canoe. The star-shaped Island has over eight miles of shoreline and 980 acres of both public lands and private homes. For some amazing hiking and nature viewing, check out the Island’s six miles of trails that wind through high banks and deep woods.  Make sure you plan a visit to Lake Windigo, the lake inside Star Island, whose special location earned it a notation in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. For those who want to extend their stay, a campground is located on the southwest shore of the island. Please note, campers must provide their own water and pack out any refuse.

 

Missouri

Loggers Lake

For some amazing fishing during the day and fantastic star gazing at night, plan your getaway to the Mark Twain National Forest’s Loggers Lake. Constructed in 1942, the spring-fed Lake is maintained as a fishery, perfect for anglers looking for non-motorized boating and quiet bank fishing. Along the Lake’s southeast side there is a campground featuring 14 sites equipped with a table, fire ring, tent pad and at some sites, lantern posts. Bringing a crowd? Group camping is available at nearby Oak Knoll. For your comfort, drinking water and vault toilets are centrally located.

 

New Hampshire

Rockhounding in the White Mountain National Forest

Rocks, minerals, and biking oh my! Did you know that recreational rock and mineral collecting is allowed in certain places in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest? From the Conway granite of the White Mountain batholith to the thick deposits of the Moat Mountain volcanic rocks, all overlain by glacial tills, this geology has resulted in diverse but limited mineral deposits in various locations across the Forest. One such area is the Deer Hill Collecting Area, abundant in amethyst (purple quartz). For best results at this site, pack a shovel and shifting screen. And, always follow standards and guidelines from the Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan in order to ensure that people can enjoy this recreational activity into the future. Another area for rockhounding is the Moat Mountain Mineral Site Trailhead, known as “The Moats.” This area provides a 14-mile mountain bike network in addition to a mineral collection. A perfect packing list for this adventure includes a hand towel, gloves, bags for your findings, a hat, sunblock, plenty of water, and of course your mountain bike. 

 

Ohio

Wayne National Forest’s Off-highway Vehicle Trail System

As the largest off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system in Ohio, the Wayne National Forest provides 129 miles throughout four different trail systems on the Athens and Ironton ranger districts. The scenery is as amazing as the trails – tucked away in the Appalachian foothills, the Wayne allows you to experience the natural beauty of wildflowers, rock formations, trees, butterflies and abundant wildlife. For a nice respite from the trails, be sure to bring along your camping gear. Camping is allowed at the OHV trailheads and in general OHV areas with a few restrictions; be sure to check out the Wayne’s website for detailed information. In addition, there are private campgrounds in the area that cater to OHVs – the local visitor bureaus have the most up to date information. Before you go – an OHV permit is required.

 

Vermont

Rattlesnake Cliffs & Aunt Jenny Trail

After finishing your picnic lunch near views of water cascading 35 feet out of a rock wall at the Falls of Lana Picnic Area, make sure to continue on Rattlesnake Cliffs Trail for more spectacular views! Situated in Vermont’s scenic Green Mountain National Forest, the Rattlesnake Cliffs Trail passes the upper end of the Aunt Jenny Trail then forks at the Oak Ridge Trail. At the southern end of the Oak Ridge Trail, fork right to hike north towards a series of west-facing ledges with views of Lake Dunmore and the Adirondack Mountains. You’ll leave the trail feeling refreshed with a sense of wonder.

 

West Virginia

Falls of Hills Creek

Cascading waterfalls, abundant wildflowers, and exposed layers of hard sandstone rock over soft layers of red shale await you at the Monongahela National Forest’s Falls of Hills Creek. A three-quarter mile leads to spectacular views of three waterfalls as Hills Creek descends 22 feet between the upper and lower falls. The first 1700 feet of trail is a paved, wheelchair accessible path to the upper falls viewing platform. The remainder of the trail is more strenuous with stairways and boardwalks leading to the lower falls. Because of the steep, narrow gorge, there are a few hours during the day when sunlight hits the waterfalls. The best time for photographs is mid-day when the sun is highest. Just five miles east is the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Plan a stop at this scenic nature center for maps, guidebooks and information on nearby attractions and campgrounds. Before you go, check out the area’s brochure & map!

 

Wisconsin

Blackjack Springs Wilderness

Not far from the bustle of Eagle River is a sanctuary featuring a series of four large, crystal clear springs that form the headwaters of Blackjack Creek, in the midst of dense forest cover. The 5,800 acres of the Blackjack Springs Wilderness features rolling terrain with diverse vegetation typical of the Lake Superior Highlands of northern Wisconsin. Wildlife viewing is spectacular from deer to fisher to ruffed grouse to songbirds. And one lake with three streams is available for fishing, canoeing, and nature study. Pack your hiking boots to get the most out of your visit.