Au Sable River


Area Status: Open
Au Sable National Scenic River - view from Highbanks

From Mio Pond to Lake Huron, the Au Sable is primarily managed by the HMNF.  The river is managed in two sections, one from Mio Pond to Alcona Dam Pond, the second from Alcona Dam to Lake Huron.

 

Au Sable National Wild and Scenic River

Au Sable National Scenic River

The Au Sable National Scenic River stretches 23-miles, from Mio to Alcona Pond. For additional information on our Wild and Scenic Rivers.

 

Au Sable River - Alcona Dam to Lake Huron

Au Sable River

This section provides motorboat opportunities with a lake fishing atmosphere.

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.

Lubmerman's Monument Visitor Center and Forest Discovery Trial

Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center interprets the area’s colorful lumbering past. The 14-foot Lumberman’s Monument stands on a high bank with the Au Sable River providing a scenic backdrop.

River Road National Scenic Byway

The twenty-two mile River Road National Scenic Byway extends westward from Lake Huron into the Huron National Forest. It parallels the historic Riviere aux Sable (River of Sand). Lumbermen’s Monument Visitor Center sits at the center of the byway.

 

Brochures and Maps:

  • Au Sable National Scenic River (pdf)
  • River Road National Scenic Byway (pdf) - this brochure shows River Road, the Au Sable River and Lumberman's Monument

Flickr Photo Albums:

At a Glance

Reservations: Reservations are required at Au Sable Primitive Camping from May 15 to September 30.  Visit http://www.recreation.gov to make a reservation.
Fees: Recreation Enhancement Act Fee - Day Use -
  • 4001 Landing River Access
  • Au Sable Loop Campground and Day Use Area
  • Gabions Campground and Day Use Area
  • Pine Acres Boat Launch
  • Sawmill Point Boat Launch
  • Whirlpool Angler Access
  • Monument Campground
  • Rollways Day Use and River Access
Camping -
  • Au Sable Loop Campground
  • Au Sable River Primitive Camping
  • Gabions Campground
  • Monument Campground
  • Rollways 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.
Restrictions: The following 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
  • 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
Highlights - Camping is prohibited, except at designated campgrounds or campsites.
Information Center:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Sand Play

Areas for Sand Play at Au Sable River

Mountain Biking

Both the Highbanks River Trail and Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking trail are located near the lower stretch of the Au Sable River (4001 Canoe Landing to Lake Huron). 

Highbanks River Trail runs along the Au Sable River and provides visitors several scenic views of the river and surrounding river valley.  This trail access many of the recreation sites along the river, including Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center. 

Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking Trail provides a loop trail system with scenic views of the Au Sable River and a quiet setting where visitors can enjoy nature firsthand. 

Areas for Mountain Biking at Au Sable River

Campground Camping

Camping along the Au Sable is permited at designated sites only. Campsites between Grayling and Mio are operated by the MDNRE. From Mio to 4001 Bridge, there are several canoe-in/walk-in sites and two developed campgrounds. No reservations are necessary.

With nine campgrounds on the National Forest to choose from, you are sure to find a site that suits you along the Au Sable River. 

Buttercup Campground, Cathedral Pines Campground, Meadow Springs Campground, River Dune Campground and some sites in the Au Sable River Primitive camping are only acessible by river or by foot. 

Visitors can access Au Sable Loop Campground, Gabions Campground, most Au Sable River Primtive Camping sites, Monument Campground and Rollways Campground by vehicle. 

Reservations are needed at the Au Sable Primitive Camping Sites from 4001 Bridge to Oscoda between May 15 and Sept.30. There is a $10/night camping fee and a one-time registration fee of $9. Visit www.recreation.gov for information.

Reservations are needed at most sites for Monument Campground and Rollways Campground from June 15 to August 15. 

All other campgrounds are first come, first served. 

Areas for Campground Camping at Au Sable River

RV Camping

While there are no RV Hookups available at campgrounds on the Huron-Manistee, small RV's and pop-up campers are still welcome at many sites. 

Note: most of the sites within the  Au Sable River Primitive Camping are for high clearence vehicles. 

Reservations are needed at the Au Sable Primitive Camping Sites from 4001Bridge to Oscoda between May 15 and Sept. 30. There is a $10/night campping fee and a one-time registration fee of $9. Visit www.recreation.gov for information.

Reservations are needed at most sites for Monument Campground and Rollways Campground from June 15 to August 15. 

All other campgrounds are first come, first served. 

Areas for RV Camping at Au Sable River

Group Camping

Areas for Group Camping at Au Sable River

Lake and Pond Fishing

On the lower section of the Au Sable River (4001 Canoe Landing to Lake Huron), the many impoundments create a lake-like atmosphere for fishing. 

The Au Sable River is a prime cold-water fish habitat, with salmon and steelhead runs the most popular time with anglers. The lakes range from warm to cold with a variety of fish plentiful in fall and spring. Panfish such as sunfish, perch and crappie are the most soughtafter fish on the forest, and trout fishing is popular in many forest rivers and streams. Bass fishing on the many lakes is also popular. The forest adheres to State licensing regulations, including size and quantity limits.

Areas for Lake and Pond Fishing at Au Sable River

River and Stream Fishing

The Au Sable River is a prime cold-water fish habitat, with salmon and steelhead runs the most popular time with anglers. The lakes range from warm to cold with a variety of fish plentiful in fall and spring. Panfish such as sunfish, perch and crappie are the most soughtafter fish on the forest, and trout fishing is popular in many forest rivers and streams. Bass fishing on the many lakes is also popular. The forest adheres to State licensing regulations, including size and quantity limits.

Areas for River and Stream Fishing at Au Sable River

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is allowed on the National Forest.  No vehicles may be driven onto the ice of any lake, pond, stream or river on the National Forest.  Ice fishing is done at the fishermans own risk. 

Areas for Ice Fishing at Au Sable River

Day Hiking

Both the Highbanks River Trail and Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking trail are located near the lower stretch of the Au Sable River (4001 Canoe Landing to Lake Huron). 

Highbanks River Trail runs along the Au Sable River and provides visitors several scenic views of the river and surrounding river valley.  This trail access many of the recreation sites along the river, including Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center. 

Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking Trail provides a loop trail system with scenic views of the Au Sable River and a quiet setting where visitors can enjoy nature firsthand. 

Areas for Day Hiking at Au Sable River

Backpacking

Both the Highbanks River Trail and Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking trail are located near the lower stretch of the Au Sable River (4001 Canoe Landing to Lake Huron). 

Highbanks River Trail runs along the Au Sable River and provides visitors several scenic views of the river and surrounding river valley.  This trail access many of the recreation sites along the river, including Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center. 

Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking Trail provides a loop trail system with scenic views of the Au Sable River and a quiet setting where visitors can enjoy nature firsthand. 

Areas for Backpacking at Au Sable River

Viewing Wildlife

Many of the sites along the river are prime areas for viewing wildlife, for example Foote Pond Overlook is located near an eagle nest.  Remember to stay quiet and keep your distance!

Areas for Viewing Wildlife at Au Sable River

Viewing Scenery

Visitors can enjoy views of the Au Sable River from a variety of locations along the river.  Both Au Sable River Highbanks Overlook and Iargo Springs have stairs that lead down to the river for those wishing to take a closer look!

Areas for Viewing Scenery at Au Sable River

Visitor Programs

Visitor programs are available at the Visitor Center from May to October.  A schedule will be posted in the spring for all Summer 2011 programs and activities. 

Areas for Visitor Programs at Au Sable River

Interpretive Areas

Stop by Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center and discover the early logging history of Michgan.  Or walk along the Highbanks River Trail and stop at any of the several recreation sites located along the trail. 

Areas for Interpretive Areas at Au Sable River

Visitor Centers

Lumberman's Monument is the only visitor center on the Huron-Manistee National Forest.  There are several exhibits, trails and activities available for children of all ages.  The visitor center is open from May to October, while the grounds are open year-round. 

Areas for Visitor Centers at Au Sable River

Picnicking

While you can picnic almost anywhere on the National Forest, the sites listed below have picnic tables, and most sites have pedestal grills or fire rings available. 

Areas for Picnicking at Au Sable River

Group Picnicking

Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center has a group picnic pavilion available, along with pedestal grills.

Rollways Picnic Area has a large pavilion with two fireplaces, along with pedestal grills, views of the Au Sable River, stairs down to the river and a short, accessible, walking path to Westgate Overlook.

Areas for Group Picnicking at Au Sable River

Scenic Driving

River Road National Scenic Byway is twenty-two miles long and extends westward from Lake Huron into the Huron National Forest.  It parallels the historic Au Sable River and has several stops of local and historic interest along the river, including Iargo Springs, Canoers Memorial and Foote Pond Overlook.  For those wishing to discover more about Michigan's early logging days, stop in at Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center.  The trailhead for Eagle Run Cross-country ski and hiking trail is also located on the Byway.

Camping, fishing and boating facilities are available along the Byway, as are overlooks of the Au Sable River. 

Areas for Scenic Driving at Au Sable River

Boating - Motorized

Motorized boating is allowed on the impoundments of the Au Sable River.  Motorized boating is not recommended on the Wild and Scenic Section of the river, from Mio Pond to Alcona Dam.

Areas for Boating - Motorized at Au Sable River

Boating - Non-Motorized

A 65-mile section of the river from Grayling to Alcona Dam are unrestricted to canoeing and kayaking.  The 54 miles of river from Alcona Dam to Lake Huron create a lake-like atmosphere, but narrow stretches from Alcona Dam to Loud Pond and the lower Au Sable below Foote Dam are perfect for canoes and kayaks. 

Areas for Boating - Non-Motorized at Au Sable River

Swimming

The impoundments along the lower 54 miles of the river create a lake-like atmosphere for swimming.  Please remember the water is deep and there is a current.  No lifeguards are on duty and swimming is done at your own risk. 

Areas for Swimming at Au Sable River

Tubing

A 65-mile section of the river from Grayling to Alcona Dam are unrestricted to canoeing and kayaking.  The 54 miles of river from Alcona Dam to Lake Huron create a lake-like atmosphere that is perfect for larger, motorized boats, and narrow stretches from Alcona Dam to Loud Pond and the lower Au Sable below Foote Dam are perfect for canoes and kayaks. 

Areas for Tubing at Au Sable River

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Both the Highbanks River Trail and Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking trail are located near the lower stretch of the Au Sable River (4001 Canoe Landing to Lake Huron). 

Highbanks River Trail runs along the Au Sable River and provides visitors several scenic views of the river and surrounding river valley.  This trail access many of the recreation sites along the river, including Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center. This trail is not groomed in winter and the parking lot is not plowed. 

Eagle Run Cross-country Ski and Hiking Trail provides a loop trail system with scenic views of the Au Sable River and a quiet setting where visitors can enjoy nature firsthand. The trail is groomed in winter and the parking lot is plowed.

Areas for XC Skiing/Snowshoeing at Au Sable River

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities