Kirtland's Warbler and Jack Pine Wildlife Tours


Area Status: Open

Kirtlands Warbler

Self-Guided Jack Pine Wildlife Viewing Tour

The Jack Pine Wildlife Viewing Tour is a self-guided, 58-mile auto-tour through jack pine ecosystems that are home to a variety of wildlife. The tour is marked with signs that display an image of the Kirtland's warbler and the watchable wildlife symbol. 

Along the route there are many examples of wildlife habitat. Interpretive signs discuss specific management methods at each of the five stops. Occupied Kirtland's warbler habitat is closed to public entry during nesting seasons to protect the birds. Closed areas will be posted with signs.

Guided Kirtland's Warbler Tours

Michigan Audubon Guided Tours: see the Michigan Audubon Kirtland Warbler Tour web page for details.

Forest Service Guided Tours: The guided tour starts at the Mio Ranger Station with a short presentation, then caravanning out to the tour site somewhere on the Mio district. Tours are conducted rain or shine. Reservations are recommended to attend a tour and can be made Sunday through Wednesday by calling 989-826-3252 or emailing sm.fs.miokwtours@usda.gov in advance of your trip. Prior tour registration helps staff schedule an experienced wildlife biologist or technician for the tour.

Dates: May 15th - May 31st

Times: 7 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Fees: $10 (please call 989-826-3252 or email sm.fs.miokwtours@usda.gov to register for a tour)

For More Information: Contact the Mio Ranger Station or email sm.fs.miokwtours@usda.gov

Please note:  Kirtland's warbler breeding areas are closed to entry during the breeding season (May 1 to July 15) because this ground-nesting bird is sensitive to disturbance. However, forest visitors are welcome to bird for Kirtland's warblers from the roadsides. If further assistance is needed locating current Kirtland's warbler habitat areas, the Mio Ranger District office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Find Out More

Learn more about the Kirtland's Warbler

Enter our Kirtland's Warbler Young Artists Contest

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At a Glance

Area Amenities: Parking
Fees: $10 (please call 989-826-3252 or email sm.fs.miokwtours@usda.gov to register for a tour)
Permit Info: Special Use Permit -
  • No special use permit is required for individuals or small groups.  However, larger groups are encouraged to speak with the Mio Ranger District to schedule a guided tour.
Open Season: May 1 - October 31
Usage: Light
Best Season: May 15 - July 10
Restrictions: Forest-wide Closures - Kirtland's Warbler Habitat -
  • Kirtland's Warbler habitat is closed to public entry during the nesting season. Contact the Mio Ranger District prior to taking the self-guided tour for more information. 
Au Sable River Corridor - Camping -
  • Camping is prohibited in the AuSable National Scenic River Corridor on the Huron-Manistee National Forests, except at designated campgrounds or campsites.
  • Using a designated campsite or other area described in the order by more than 10 persons at one time is prohibited.
Closest Towns: Mio, McKinley, Glennie, Curtisville
Operated By: Mio Ranger District - (989) 826-3252
Information Center:

General Information

General Notes:

Location -  Kirtland's Warbler Habitat

Nearby Recreation Areas -  

  • Au Sable River    

County -  Oscoda, Alcona

Seasonal and Other Information -

  • These sites are not gated during the off season.
  • These sites are not maintained in the off season:
    • Access roads and/or parking lots are not plowed.

Directions:

Jack Pine Wildlife Viewing Tour Directions:

  • Au Sable River Loop Overlook > O’Brien Lake > Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista > Snags
    • Au Sable River Loop Overlook:
      • From Grayling, travel east on M-72 for 30 miles.
      • Turn left and travel north on M-72/M-33 (Morenci Ave.) for 0.5 miles.
      • Turn right and travel east on McKinley Road (F-32/CO RD 600) for 2.4 miles.
      • The Au Sable River Loop Overlook parking lot will be on the right.
      • Amenities: Parking
    • O’Brien Lake:
      • Turn right out of the Au Sable River Loop Overlook parking lot and travel east on McKinley Road (F-32/CO RD 600) for 8.2 miles.
      • Turn right on E. River Dr. and take an immediate left on to Reed Road/FR 4061 for 1.3 miles.
      • Continue traveling on O’Brien Lake Road/FR 4061 until the road ends at the O’Brien Lake parking lot.
      • Amenities: Parking (10 vehicle capacity)
    • Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista:
      • Leave the O’Brien parking lot and travel west on FR 4061 for 0.2 miles.
      • Continue onto Reed Road/FR 4061 for 1.3 miles.
      • Turn right onto E. River Dr.
      • Take a right at the stop sign and travel east on McKinley Road (F-32/CO RD 600) for 5.8 miles.
      • Turn right at the stop sign and travel southeast on Au Sable Road for 6.6 miles.
      • Continue straight across Bamfield Road and you will arrive at the Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista parking lot.
      • Amenities: Parking and restroom
    • Snags:
      • Leave the Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista parking lot and travel straight across Bamfield Road.
      • Continue traveling northeast on Au Sable Road for 4.4 miles.
      • Turn left and travel southwest on Au Sable River Road (Fed Rte. 4001) for 8.5 miles.
      • Turn right onto FR 4800 to enter the Snags site.
      • Amenities: None
  • Snags > Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista > O’Brien Lake > Au Sable River Loop Overlook
    • Snags:
      • From Grayling, travel east on M-72 for 30 miles.
      • Turn right and travel south on M-33 (S Mt. Tom Road) for 6.0 miles.
      • Turn left and travel east on Curtisville Road (CO RD 604) for 7.6 miles.
      • Turn left on FR 4800 to enter the Snags site.
    • Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista:
      • Turn left out of the Snags site and travel east on Curtisville Road (CO RD 604) for 8.5 miles.
      • At the stop sign turn right and travel southeast on Au Sable Road for 4.4 miles.
      • At the stop sign continue south across Bamfield Road to arrive at the Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista parking lot.
    • O’Brien Lake:
      • Leave the Au Sable Valley Scenic Vista parking lot and travel north across Bamfield Road.
      • Continue traveling on Au Sable Road for 6.7 miles.
      • Turn left and travel on McKinley Road (F-32/CO RD 600) for 5.9 miles.
      • Turn left on E. River Dr. and take an immediate left on to Reed Road/FR 4061 for 1.3 miles.
      • Continue traveling on O’Brien Lake Road/FR 4061 until the road ends at the O’Brien Lake parking lot.
    • Au Sable River Loop Overlook:
      • Travel west on O’Brien Lake Road/FR 4061 for 0.2 miles.
      • Continue traveling on Reed Road/FR 4061 for 1.3 miles.
      • Turn right on E. River Dr. and then an immediate left on to McKinley Road (F-32/CO RD 600) for 8.2 miles.
      • Turn left into the Au Sable River Loop parking lot.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Day Hiking

The Ruffed Grouse walk is a short, .6-mile walk through Ruffed Grouse habitat. 

Areas for Day Hiking at Kirtland's Warbler and Jack Pine Wildlife Tours

Viewing Wildlife

For more information on the Kirtland's warbler visit the Learning Center section on the Kirtland's warbler.

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 Jack Pine Wildlife Viewing Tour

Areas for Viewing Wildlife at Kirtland's Warbler and Jack Pine Wildlife Tours

Interpretive Areas

Clear-cut -

This stop discusses Kirtland warbler habitat requirements. This area is a former clear-cut that was replanted with jack pine in 1997. This site would not be cut again for another 40 - 50 years.

Ecosystem Management -

This site discusses timber harvesting and jack pine ecosystem management for Kirtland`s warbler habitat creation. This is an older habitat area that will soon be to old for nesting Kirtland`s warblers. This area is a habitat mosaic where it is easy to see the different stages of jack pine habitat.

Mack Lake Burn -

This site discusses Kirtland's warbler habitat management.

Ruffed Grouse Walk -

This is a .6 mile walk through Ruffed Grouse habitat.

Snags -

This site discusses the leaving of standing dead trees for habitat purposes; why standing dead is left and what species it benefits. This site is close to the Mack Lake area, but is not specific habitat for the Kirtland`s warbler.

Areas for Interpretive Areas at Kirtland's Warbler and Jack Pine Wildlife Tours

Scenic Driving

The Jack Pine Wildlife Viewing tour will take visitors on a driving tour around the Huron National Forest. 

Pavement Type for Parking Asphalt or Dirt/Gravel
Vehicle Clearence Low - Medium
Size Restrictions None
Corrals None

Amenities

Parking: 3 vehicle capacity - at each site

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Area/Length : 
58