Enchanted Forest Guide to Northern Michigan
 “Promoting Northern Michigan Businesses & Organizations Since 1997”

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Northern Michigan Parks & Nature Preserves

 

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Parks & Nature Preserves

Agate Beach [Natural Attractions], 6 miles east of Eagle Harbor.  Pastel colored agate and lesser semiprecious stones found on Lake Superior beaches from Ontonagon to Keweenaw Peninsula and from Munising to Whitefish Point.

Arch Rock [Natural Attractions], Mackinac Island.  Natural arch rock formation 150 feet above Lake Huron. Observation deck.

Estivant Pines [Natural Attraction], Copper Harbor.  This nature sanctuary is located 2.5 miles south of Copper Harbor. The 400-acre nature sanctuary is home to the oldest living trees in Michigan, several of which more than 125 feet tall, and more than 200 years old. It is also the home of many unique animals and rare plants. The area contains two foot trails, namely Memorial Grove, a 1.4-mile trail, and Cathedral Grove a 1.5-mile path. These trails are open to the public year round, accessible by automobile in the summer and snowshoe in the winter.

Earl K. Dore Woodland [Parks & Nature Preserves], Five Mile Point Road, Ahmeek, MI 49901, Phone: (906) 337-0782. The Dore Woods, a North Woods Conservancy site, contains 80 acres of oak and maple hardwood forest and the botanically diverse Taylor Creek gorge. Located northwest of Ahmeek off the Five Mile Point Road, the Woods are acessible via the Gratiot River North trail-head parking area and trail easement at the end of Tanskanen Road. Fire, camping and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Entry is free. Open during daylight hours year round.

Fossil Formations [Natural Attractions], Drummond Island.  Dolomite rock formation containing 350-million- year- old coral and shellfish fossils.  Fossils, are commonly found in the exposed limestone of the eastern U.P. and Straits-Charlevoix area, are especially abundant on the beach at this point on Drummond's north shore.

Gratiot River County Park [Parks & Nature Preserves], Gratiot River Road, Off the 5 Mile Point Road, Ahmeek, MI 49901, Phone: (906) 337-0782. Gratiot River County Park contains 100 acres and 4,000’ of Lake Superior sand, slate, and cobble shoreline. GRCP is open to the public every day of the year, free of charge. Access to GRCP is via Gratiot River Road, a graded county road. State law prohibits ORV’s on any part of the beach.

Gratiot River North [Parks & Nature Preserves], Five Mile Point Road, Ahmeek, MI 49901. Gratiot River North. a North Woods Conservancy site, contains 495 acres that include miles of hiking and biking trails and 4,988 feet of Lake Superior agate-rich cobble shoreline. Fire, camping and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Located northwest of Ahmeek of the Five Mile Point Road, access is via a trail-head parking area and trail easement at the terminus of Tanskanen Road or from the Gratiot River County Park. Admission is free. Open during daylight hours year round.

Island Park & Wildlife Sanctuary [Parks & Nature Preserves], 208 N. First Street, City Hall, Alpena, MI 49707, A 17 acre Island jewel surrounded by the Thunder Bay River which winds through 500 acres of back waters, low islands and waterfowl. Several paths lead joggers, walkers, photographers, fishermen, nature lovers through varied eco systems including sand dunes, meadows, woodlands, gentle slopes, marsh areas. Has viewing platform (handicapped accessible).

Kitchi-iti-kipi Spring, Palm Book State Park.  45-feet-deep spring, 200 feet across.  Pumps 16,000 gallons of water per minute. Sel-propelled observation raft.

Maxton Plains [Natural Attractions], Drummond Island.  The limestone bedrock is right at the surface, almost like pavement in its flat expanse. Plants grow in the cracks, creating four to eight inches of spongy soil on top that supports the rare alvar grasslands and alpine plants. To survive here, these plants must be alkaline and able to withstand sudden alternations from dry to soaking conditions. These boring-looking grasses can burst into bloom within a day, turning into a sight of great if subtle beauty. Alvar grasslands exist in only a few places in the world including nearby Manitoulin Island, Pelee Island, and Latvia. Much of the plains is Nature Conservancy property. Mountain bikers are prohibited from biking on the fragile, thin soils.

Glacial Moraine [Natural Attraction], 8 miles north of Clare.  Boulders, rocks and sand deposited by the glaciers form hills marking dramatic change is scenery. 

Grand Sable Banks and Dunes [Natural Attractions], Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Five mile stretch of 275-foot banks rising from Lake Superior.  Topped by 85-foot high Grand Sable Dunes covering five-square mile area.

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Iargo Springs [Natural Attractions], 17b miles west of Oscoda.  Natural spring running into Au Sable River.  Steep drop-off from roadway to spring. Located on the River Road Scenic Byway, this site, considered a holy place by native Americans, offers a breathtaking view of the AuSable River Valley from a 30' high observation deck. For the adventurous, walk down 294 steps and enter a mystical place where underground springs come together and form cold water streams. Walk along the elevated boardwalk and enjoy the serenity.

Lake of the Clouds [Natural Attractions], Porcupine Mountains State Park.  Panoramic view of mile-long inland lake for 1,300-foot escarpment.

Petoskey Stone [Natural Attractions], Petoskey.  Official state stone.  Fossil remains of a kind of coral found along the shores of Leelanau Peninsula.  A Petoskey stone is a rock that is composed of a fossilized coral, Hexagonaria percarinata. The stones were formed as a result of glaciation, in which sheets of ice plucked stones from the bedrock, depositing them in the north part of Michigan's lower peninsula.  Petroskey stones are found in the Gravel Point Formation of the Traverse Group and were originally deposited during the Devonian period. When dry the stone resembles ordinary limestone but when wet or polished using lapidary techniques, the distinctive mottled pattern of the fossil emerges. It is sometimes made into decorative objects. Other forms of fossilized coral are also found in the same location. The name comes from an Ottawa Indian Chief, Chief Pet-O-Sega; a town, Petoskey, Michigan, is also named after him, and is the center of the area where the stones are found. The stones are commonly found on the beaches and in sand dunes.

Pictured Rocks and Miners Castle, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Colorful water carved cliffs rising 50 to 200 feet from Lake Superior.  15-mile stretch northeast from Munising.  Includes Miners Castle, a nine-story sandstone pinnacle.

Piers Gorge [Natural Attractions], 2 miles south of Norway.  Deep gorge cuts through bedrock by Menominee River.  Scenic boundry between Michigan and Wisconsin.

Seven Mile Point [Parks & Nature Preserves], Five Mile Point Road, Ahmeek, MI 49901, Phone: (906) 337-0782. Seven Mile Point, a North Woods Conservancy site, contains 32 acres and 1,854 feet of Lake Superior sand, bedrock and cobble shoreline. Located northwest of Ahmeek, off the Five Mile Point Road, access is via Sunset Bay Road. Fires, camping, glass containers and aggressive dogs are not allowed. Entry for non-NWC members is $5. Open from noon to sunset on weekends from May 15 to October 15, provided an NWC volunteer host is present.

Sinkholes [Natural Attractions], 10 miles southeast of Onaway.  2,600 acre sinkhole area.  Rock depressions formed when underground caves collapse after water dissolved limestone bedrock.  Dry sinkholes and sinkhole lakes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes [ National Attractions], Sleeping Bear Dunes  National Lakeshore.  Perched sand dune overlooking Lake Michigan from 400-foot plateau.

Strangmoor Bog [Natural Attractions], Seney. Seney National Wildlife Refuge.  String bog located in Seney Wilderness Area.  National Natural Landmark.  Set of finglerlike bogs alternating with sand dunes.  Geologic feature found in arctic or subarctic regions.

Sturgen Gorge [Natural Attractions], 9 miles south of L’Anse.  250-foot-deep canyon formed by the Sturgeon River.  Upper and lower falls.

Valley of Giants [Natural Attractions], Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore], Virgin white cedar grove over 500 years old.  World record cedar over 90 feet tall and 17.5 feet in diameter.

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