Highbanks River Trail

Area Status: Open

Highbanks River Trail

A short, 7-mile hike along the bluffs of the Au Sable River will provide day hikers with some of the best, and most dramatic, views of the Au Sable River, where hikers or skiers will be able to look over the river valley, with clear views almost to Lake Huron in some spots.

The linear trail begins 15 miles outside of Oscoda, with access areas and parking at Iargo Springs, Lumberman's Monument, and Sid Town.

During the summer hikers may see bald eagles that nest in the area, along with many other wildlife that inhabit the area.   During winter, snowshoers and cross-country skiers looking for ungroomed trail will find it on the Highbanks Trail.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Annual services at the site will resume for spring on April 15
Operational Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless otherwise posted.
Fees: No Fee
Permit Info: Camping
  • No permit or reservation is required outside of the permitted season.
  • Camping Permit required at primitive campsites from May 15 to September 10.
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.
Usage: Light
Best Season: January 1 to December 31
Restrictions: Allowed 
  • Nonmotorized and nonmotorized snow use
  • Motorized and over-snow motorized vehicles, pack and saddle livestock
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. Applicable Orders
  • Au Sable National Scenic River Corridor; R904-14-18
  • Au Sable River and Cooke Pond Semi-primitive Motorized Areas, shorelines of Alcona Pond and the Eable Run Trail System; R904-14-21
  • Motorized Vehicle Use of Roads, Trails and Off-road Areas; R904-14-02
  • Occupancy and Use; R904-14-03
Closest Towns: Glennie, MI
Water: None
Restroom: Vault
Operated By: Huron Shores Ranger Station, 989-739-0728
Information Center:

General Information


There are three trailheads for this trail, located at: 

To access the trail at Cook Dam Road, about 15 miles west of Oscoda. Turn right onto Cook Dam Road from River Road, the trailhead is located less than 1/2 mile from the turn off for Sawmill Point Point Launch and campsites, on the left/river side of the road. 

General Notes:

Downloadable Trail Maps

  • Highbanks River Trail Map (coming soon)
  • River Road National Scenic Byway (pdf) - this brochure shows all sites along River Road, the Au Sable River and near Lumberman's Monument

The 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. The trail maps are set to printon 8.5x11 paper.

Flickr Photo Albums


Au Sable River

Nearby Recreation Areas -

  • Iargo Springs
  • Sawmill Point
  • Lumberman's Monument
  • Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center 



Seasonal and Other Information

  • This site is not gated during the off season. 
  • This site is maintained in winter:
    •  Access road and/or parking lot are plowed.

  • The trail is hardpacked earth.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Viewing Wildlife

There are many areas on the forest for scenic viewing. 

The ultimate wildlife viewing experience is watching animals in their habitat.  Here are some helpful tips to become a wildlife friendly viewer:

  • Use the right tools - A field guide, a pair of binoculars and a camera.  Wear clothing that is appropritate for the season and activitiy.
  • Watch at dawn and dusk - This is the time when most wildlife species are active enough to view.
  • Keep your distance - Maintain a distance that is comfortable for the wildlife.
  • Stay quiet - Move slowly and quietly to increase your chances of viewing wildlife, and to avoid stressing the animals you wish to watch.
  • Do not feed the wildlife - There is plenty of food availale in the wild.  Human food can cause digestive problems, provide improper nutrition, and even kill an animal. 

An online version of the Michigan Wildlife Viewing Guide is available on the MI-DNRE website.

Special Feature Nature Trail, River Road National Scenic Byway

Interpretive Areas

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Nearby Resorts No
Warming Shelters No
Base Conditions Not Groomed

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
7.1 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude :