DescriptionIn the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, Huron-Manistee National Forests extend over 976,043 acres. Through the Huron National Forest flows the Au Sable River, once heavily used to float logs to the sawmills at East Tawas and Oscoda. The river provides electricity generated by the dams along its course.
The forests offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting for the morel mushroom in the spring, swimming in lakes Huron and Michigan in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Trout fishing is excellent in many lakes and streams as well as in the Au Sable River. The Au Sable, Manistee, Pine and Pere Marquette rivers in the Manistee National Forest are favorites of canoeists; from mid-May to early September a permit is required to canoe on the Pine and Pere Marquette rivers.
The Nordhouse Dunes are spread across a mile of undeveloped shoreline along Lake Michigan in the Manistee National Forest. The dunes provide opportunities for solitude and seasonal deer hunting. The Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary offers a 1-mile trail through marsh, forest and orchard. An 11.5-mile trail offers hiking along the Manistee River and connects to the North Country Trail via a wooden suspension bridge across the river. Together the trails make a 22-mile loop.
The River Road Scenic Byway, in the Huron National Forest, runs 22 miles along the south bank of the Au Sable River. The byway provides vistas of tree-banked reservoirs and offers views of bald eagles, spawning salmon, the Canoeists Memorial and the Lumberman's Monument. Part of the Shore-to-Shore Hiking-Riding Trail also traverses the forest. The North Country Trail offers snowshoeing, camping, backpacking and hiking in the Manistee National Forest.
The Lumberman's Monument, a bronze statue depicting early loggers, overlooks the river valley 10 miles northwest of East Tawas. A visitor center at the monument houses interpretive displays that explore the rich logging legacy of the Au Sable River.
The forests are open daily 24 hours. Information and maps of the Huron National Forest can be obtained at district offices in Oscoda and Mio. Offices in Baldwin, Cadillac and Manistee provide information about the Manistee National Forest.
Some areas require a vehicle pass. A day pass costs $5 and offers access to trailheads, boat and canoe launches, and other day-use recreation sites; passes for other lengths of time also are available. A fee is charged for camping and for watercraft permits. Contact the Huron-Manistee National Forests Headquarters, 1755 S. Mitchell St., Cadillac, MI 49601; phone (231) 775-2421 or (800) 821-6263.