Au Sable National Scenic River

Area Status: Open
This area is Open
 

Au Sable National Scenic River

The Au Sable National Scenic River, is a 23-mile portion of the Au Sable River that stretches from Mio to Alcona Pond. President Ronald Reagan signed the law establishing the segment of river as a National Scenic River on October 4, 1984.  By receving this designation, this free-flowing segment from below Mio Pond to the upper end of Alcona Pond received national recognition for its outstanding and remarkable scenic, recreational, biological and historical values and a national commitment to its protection.  People have enjoyed the scenic beauty of the Au Sable for hundreds of years.

In pre-European settlement times, Native Americans used the river as a travel route.  After European settlement of the area, the Au Sable River was a major throughway for floating white pine to sawmills or waiting barges at ports on Lake Huron. During those years many of the logs and fallen trees that littered the river were carried downstream with the harvested white pine. In recent years efforts have been made to replace logs in the river to help reduce erosion and maintain the world-class trout fishing river as an aquatic habitat.

Brochure with map:  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.

Flickr Photo Album

Gabions Campground and Day Use sign Buttercup sign 4001 Canoe Landing entrance sign Sign located at the Highbanks Overlook Entrance sign for the Au Sable Loop Campground.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Managed Season (starts and ends): 
  • 4001 Canoe Landing: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Highbanks Overlook: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Au Sable Loop Campground: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Bear Island Primitive Campsites: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Buttercup Campground: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Cathedral Pines Campground: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Davis Rest Stop: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Gabions Campground and Day Use Area: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • Loud's Rest Stop: April 1 to Nov. 30
  • McKinley Landing: April 1 to Dec. 1
  • Meadow Springs Campground: April 1 to Dec. 1
  • Primitive Camps: April 1 to Dec. 1
  • River Dune Campground: April 1 to Dec. 1
  • Wolf Creek Trialhead: April 1 to Dec. 1
 
Operational Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless otherwise posted.
Rentals & Guides: Canoe Rentals -
  • Glennie:
    • Alcona Canoe Rental
  • Hale:
    • Rollways Resort
  • Mio:
    • Gotts Landing
    • Hinchman's Acres Resort
  • Oscoda:
    • Au Sable River Kayaking Company LLC; B & B LLC (Hunts)
    • Oscoda Canoe Rental
Area Amenities: Boat ramp,Drinking water,Parking
Fees Recreation Enhancement Act Fee - Day Use -
  • 4001 Bridge Canoe Landing
  • Gabions Campground and Day Use Area
  • Au Sable Loop Campground and Day Use Area
Camping -
  • Gabions Campground
  • Au Sable Loop Campground
Permit Info: Special Use Permit -
  • No special use permit is required for individuals or small groups (74 people or less).
  • Permits are required for commercial, event or large groups (75 people or more).
Visit the Passes and Permits section for more information on obtaining a special use permit.
Open Season: January 1
Usage: Light
Busiest Season: May - September
Restrictions: As a visitor to the National Forest, you are asked to follow certain rules designed to protect the Forest, natural resources and to provide for public safety of visitors. These rules are available to you on-line or at any office of the Huron-Manistee National Forests. Please take time to read and understand them. General Topic orders apply across the Forests. Applicable Orders -
  • Au Sable National Scenic River Corridor; R904-14-18
  • Motorized Vehicle Use of Roads, Trails and Off-road Areas; R904-14-02
  • Occupancy and Use; R904-14-03
Highlights - Camping is prohibited, except at designated campgrounds or campsites.
Closest Towns: Mio, McKinley
Operated By: Mio Ranger District - (989) 826-3252
Information Center:

General Information

General Notes:

County - Oscoda


Directions:

Location - The scenic portion of the river runs from Mio Dam Pond to Alcona Pond Site.  For directions to a particular campground, please visit that campgrounds page. 

 From Grayling -

Highbanks Overlook

  • Travel east on M-72 for 30 miles.
  • Turn right and travel south on M-33 for 6 miles.
  • Turn left and travel east on County Rd./Curtisville Rd. for 16.5 miles.
  • Turn left and travel on Au Sable Rd. for .5 miles.
  • Turn left and travel on FR 3993 for .25 miles to parking lot.

Latitude: 44.619185 Longitude: -83.839156

Loud's Rest Stop

  • Travel east on M-72 for 30 miles.
  • Turn left and travel north on M-72/M-33 for .5 miles.
  • Turn right and travel east on McKinley Dr. for 1.5 miles.
  • Turn right and travel on FR 4366 into entrance the site and follow the signs.

 Latitude: 44.661931  Longitude: -84.1053

 

Davis Rest Stop

  • Travel east on M-72 for 30 miles.
  • Turn left and travel north on M-72/M-33 for .5 miles.
  • Turn right and travel east on McKinley Dr. for 7.5 miles.
  • Turn right and travel south on FR 4371 for .75 miles.

  Latitude: 44.651158  Longitude: -83.992207

 

McKinley Landing

  • Travel east on M-72 for 30 miles.
  • Turn left and travel north on M-72/M-33 for .5 miles.
  • Turn right and travel east on McKinley Dr. for 10 miles.
  • Turn right and travel south on Evans Rd. for .5 miles. Cross the river and turn right into the entrance.

 Latitude: 44.642129  Longitude: -83.941364

 

4001 Canoe Landing

  • Travel east on M-72 for 30 miles.
  • Turn right and go south on M-33 for 6 miles.
  • Turn left and go east on County Rd. 604/Curtisville Rd. for 16 miles.
  • The entrance is located on the right.

 Latitude: 44.651158  Longitude: -83.992207


Accessibility:

Au Sable Loop Campground

  • Restroom facilities are accessible.
  • campsites are hard-packed earth.

Highbanks Overlook

  • Parking area is gravel.
  • Path is narrow and packed earth.  
  • Observation area is grassy/lawn.

Loud's Rest Stop

  • The path to the river is narrow, packed dirt.
  • Access to the river is via steps.

 Davis Rest Stop

  • Access to the river is stairs.
  • The restroom facilities are accessible.

McKinley Landing

  • This site has no parking available.    
  • The turn-a-round and boat ramp are paved.
  • Restroom facilities are accessible.

 Gabions Campground

  • Restroom facilities are accessible.
  • One site has a tent pad.
  • Path to river is narrow, hard-packed earth.

4001 Canoe Landing

  • The parking area and boat ramp are paved.
  • The picnic table and restroom facilities are accessible.  

Parking:

Au Sable Loop Campground - walk-in boat access

Buttercup Campground - walk-in camping and boat access

Cathedral Pines - walk-in camping and boat access

Davis Rest Stop - 6 vehicle capacity; walk-in boat access

Gabions Campground - 15 vehicle capacity

Highbanks Overlook - 6 vehicle capacity

Loud's Rest Stop- 4 vehicle capacity, no trailers

McKinley Landing - no parking

Meadows Campground - walk-in camping and boat access

River Dune Campground - walk-in camping and boat access


Activities


Camping & Cabins

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Fishing

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Hiking

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Nature Viewing

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Picnicking

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Water Activities

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Amenities

Drinking water Au Sable Loop, Meadow Springs
Parking All sites except McKinley
Boat ramp 4001 Canoe Landing, McKinlely Bridge