Outdoor Safety & Ethics

We hope you'll enjoy your visit to the Hiawatha National Forest.  Remember to consider outdoor safety as you plan your trip.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind.



The mosquitoes and black flies can be very bad from Mid-May to mid-July. Be sure to bring plenty of insect repellant and even a head net during those months.

Water Safety in the Great Lakes

Summer water temperature of Lake Superior remains steady at 46-48 degrees, even in shallow bays. Prolonged exposure to these temperatures can lead to hypothermia. Conditions on Lake Superior change very rapidly and boaters are advised to monitor channel 16 on a ship-to-shore radio or listen to a NOAA weather radio. All visitors should be prepared to spend at least one extra day on the island and leave a travel plan with someone on shore.


Grand Island National Recreation Area is rimmed with +200-foot cliffs.  Avoid climbing on or standing along the sandstone cliffs. The stone is very fragile and may not support your weight. Grand Island is closed to rock climbing, rappelling and portable generators. Also, keep in mind that domestic animals must be kept on a leash, except while being used for hunting.

Outdoor Ethics

Is the Wilderness Experience for You?

Before you plan a trip into a Congressionally-designated Wilderness, ask yourself if you really want a Wilderness experience. Although many resort areas serve Upper Michigan, the Wilderness is preserved in a natural state - without roads, electricity, telephones, tap water, trashcans, restrooms, and other amenities offered in some campgrounds and picnic areas throughout the Forest.

The key to enjoying a visit to the Forest is to plan a trip that matches your experience and expectations.

For those interested in primitive camping and off-trail hiking without as many restrictions, many options are available. More information about local opportunities may be obtained by calling the Hiawatha/Pictured Rocks Visitor Center at 906-387-3700 or by writing the Munising Ranger District, Box 400, Munising, MI 49862. Other recreation opportunities include:

  • Developed campgrounds
  • Dispersed campsites
  • Semi-primitive non-motorized areas
  • Maintained hiking, snowmobile and ski trails.

Wilderness Courtesy and Leave No Trace Ethics

Solitude and non-disruptive enjoyment of the natural setting are essential to the Wilderness experience. You can help preserve the Wilderness quality by practicing "Leave No Trace " camping. Here are some good practices to follow:

  • Plan ahead to avoid crowded dates and places.
  • Avoid trampling vegetation.
  • Keep pets under control at all times - if you must bring them.
  • Never pick or collect wildflowers, plant specimens, rocks, pine cones, etc.
  • Allow sufficient space between camps.
  • Leave audio devices and boisterous conduct home.
  • Do not blaze trees or build rock piles to mark your route when traveling off trails. Use a compass.
  • Never bury trash. Animals will dig it up. Always bury human waste and toilet paper at least 20 feet from campsites, trails and water sources. Use a backpacker's trowel.
  • Never cut live or dead standing trees.
  • Choose equipment and clothing in earth tone colors.
  • Keep group size to 6 or fewer people.
  • Pack it in, pack it out.