Bowman Lake Area

Area Status: Open

This area not only has the Pere Marquette River running through it, but also contains a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail and habitat for the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly.

The Bowman Lake area is located in Lake and Sweetwater Townships in Lake County. A total of 1,145 acres of NFS lands and 368 acres of private lands are within the boundary of the Bowman Lake area.

The terrain is characterized by rolling hills, glacial depressions and leatherleaf bogs. A 3-acre lake is located within the area. The area tends to be densely forested with a mix of hardwoods, red and white pine and aspen. Wildlife species that commonly inhabit this area include white-tailed deer, bobcat, coyote, red fox, raccoon, porcupine, squirrels, pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse, wild turkey and various songbirds.

Visitor recreation activities include camping, fishing, mushroom gathering, bird-watching, hunting, hiking and canoeing. Mountain biking and horseback riding are also common uses on the area trails. Although trails are not groomed in the winter, the area is popular for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.


The Bowman Lake Trailhead serves as a main entry point onto the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT). A 3-mile segment of the NCT is located within this area and mountain biking is allowed on this section of trail. In addition, a small trailhead is located on NFS Road 6267, giving access to the Bowman Lake Campground Trail, which is approximately 7.5 miles of loop trail designed for nonmotorized recreation.

This trail system can also be used by mountain bikers and horseback riders. Four improved campsites are located on Bowman Lake. Segments of the State of Michigan snowmobile trail system and Michigan Cycle Conservation Club Trail (MCCCT) system are located immediately south of the area.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless otherwise posted.
Fees: No Fee
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 - December
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 -
  • Motorized Vehicle Use of Roads, Trails and Off-road Areas; R904-14-02
  • Occupancy and Use - Developed Recreation Areas, Dispersed Areas, Being Publicly Nude, Marine Prohibitions, Parking and Sanitation; R904-14-03
  • Pere Marquette National Scenic River Corridor; R904-14-14
Closest Towns: Baldwin
Operated By: Baldwin White Cloud Ranger District - (231) 745-4631
Information Center:

General Information

General Notes:

Location - Pere Marquette River

Nearby Recreation Areas -

  • North Country National Scenic Trail
  • Bowman Lake Campground
  • Bowman Bridge Campground

Acreage - 1,100   

County - Lake

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

Recreation areas with activity Campground Camping:

Lake and Pond Fishing

Recreation areas with activity Lake and Pond Fishing:
Fishing Mode Boat, Shore, Wade
Fishing Platform No
Cleaning Station No
Water Temperature Cold
Accessible Platform No
Fishing Method Fly, Pole

Ice Fishing

Recreation areas with activity Ice Fishing:
Fishing Mode Boat, Shore, Wade
Fishing Platform No
Cleaning Station No
Accessible Platform No
Fishing Method Pole, Tip-up, Spearing

Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:
Difficulty Level: Intermediate


Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

This area has both the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Bowman Lake Trail running through it. 

Viewing Wildlife

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Wildlife:

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

Boating - Non-Motorized

Recreation areas with activity Boating - Non-Motorized:


Recreation areas with activity Swimming:
Water Temperature Cold

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Recreation areas with activity XC Skiing/Snowshoeing:
Nearby Resorts No
Warming Shelters No
Base Conditions Not Groomed

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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