Enchanted Forest Guide to Northern Michigan
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Alcona Pond - Au Sable River
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Tahquamenon Falls in Fall Colors

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Wildlife Viewing in Northern Michigan
White-tailed Deer - 300 x 225

Northern Oriole - 300 x 225

Snapping Turtle - 300 x 225
Wild Turkey - 300 x 225

White-tailed Deer

Northern Oriole

Snapping Turtle

Wild Turkey

Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary, Alpena, MI 49707. Phone: (989) 354-4158.  650 acre sanctuary on Thunder Bay River.  Waterfowl, songbirds.  Include 17-acre Island Park with foot trails, observation deck and fishing platform.  Paved trail to observation deck.

Au Sable River [Wildlife Viewing Area] - U.S. Forest Service, Huron National Forest, Mio Ranger District, (989) 826-3252, Huron Shores Ranger District, Oscoda, (989) 739-0728; Consumers Energy.  Closest Towns: Grayling, Mio, McKinley, Curtisville, Glennie, Oscoda.  There are many access points along the Au Sable River. A good place to begin is the River Road National Scenic Byway. From Oscoda, drive west along River Road as it follows the river to M-65 and the Loud Dam Pond. Many of the Forest Service River Access Areas require a Huron-Manistee vehicle pass to park at the sites. Contact the U.S. Forest Service to inquire about a vehicle pass and for excellent maps of the river.  This stretch of the Au Sable River from Grayling to Lake Huron offers breathtaking scenery as well as excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Panoramic vistas from high bluff overlooks, long wooden boardwalks over spring-fed streams, and miles of quiet, undeveloped shoreline all can be found along this scenic river that flows from Grayling to Oscoda. Consumers Energy owns and operates six hydroelectric dams along the Au Sable between Lake Huron and the town of Mio. Most of the river frontage is Huron National Forest land managed by the U.S. Forest Service or Consumers Energy lands. These lands provide a combination of developed and undeveloped outdoor recreation opportunities. Contact the Forest Service for hiking, canoeing, camping, skiing, and snowmobiling opportunities along the river corridor.  Good chance of seeing bald eagles along the river in any season. Eagles hunt for fish and waterfowl in the shallow areas of the river and in the reservoirs formed by the six hydro dams. A successful effort to re-establish native trumpeter swan populations has resulted in excellent opportunities to view the majestic birds on the hydro reservoirs. Deer and wild turkeys are common along the river corridor and in the adjacent woodlands. Watch for them along roadsides at dawn and dusk. While canoeing the river, you may see river otters, mink, beaver, trumpeter swans, mallards and mergansers, and many songbirds. The song of the secretive winter wren, the northern water thrush and the black and white warbler are common along many of the thicker riverbank habitats. The melodious and distinctive songs of these and the many other resident songbirds add to the beauty of a float down this very wild and scenic river."   The 23 mile stretch of the river from Mio downstream to the 401 Bridge is a designated National Scenic River. In the river, you may see trout, walleye, pike and bass. Fishing here is excellent. The AuSable may just be the finest brown trout flyfishing east of the Rockies. If that were not enough reason to visit the river, the AuSable is also one of the best canoeing rivers in the Midwest. The Au Sable makes an easy, beautiful float, and there are plenty of canoe liveries available in the area if you do not have your own boat.

Backus Lake [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Roscommon Operations Service Center, (989) 275-5151.  Closest Towns: Prudenville and Roscommon.  From the intersection of M-18 and M-55 just east of Prudenville, drive north on M-18 about 1.5 miles to the junction of M-18 and M-157. Stay on M-18 but turn right (east) at the first road past this intersection. Proceed 3/4 mile to an unmarked intersection and turn left. After another 0.9 miles the road forks. Turn to the left to go to the dam or continue another 1.5 miles to the main lake area.   This shallow lake and the surrounding wetlands are popular with wildlife, and although the site has few improvements, it is popular with summer recreationists, too. Access is limited to foot traffic on the east side of the Backus Lake dam. This foot-access-only helps ensure a quiet, peaceful walk through forestlands, wildlife openings, and along the natural lakeshore. Backus Lake is the southern-most lake in a series of three wetland lakes, all state-owned, along the Backus Creek drainage. The other two wetlands, the Backus Creek Wildlife Flooding and Little Mud Lake, are located just north, and downstream, of one another. These three lakes, all with water levels enhanced by dams, create a wetland complex attractive to many species of wildlife.  Loons nest on Backus Lake and can be best observed in the spring and early summer. Seeing a loon with chicks in the still morning mist is a sight not soon forgotten. The Backus Lake loons are one of only several hundred pairs remaining in the state, so please do not approach or disturb them. The clearcuts and other forest habitats, including nearby managed forest openings, are also great places to view wildlife. Watch and listen for male woodcock performing their unusual courtship displays in these openings in early April. They begin on the ground, calling out a loud, nasal "peeeent." They then launch straight up into the air and emit a chirping sound as they fly tight circles back to the ground, where they start their displays all over again. Coyotes and bobcats are quite common in this area. Look for their tracks along sandy trails. An osprey nesting platform close to the road provides an excellent look at these amazing aerial anglers, and beavers have constructed a lodge of sticks in the lake near the platform. An eagle’s nest is found nearby and these magnificent birds of prey can often be seen soaring in search of food such as fish, ducks, muskrats, even turtles.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak - 300 x 225
Spring Peeper - 300 x 225
Painted Turtle - 300 x 225
Gray Tree Frog 300 x 225

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Spring Peeper Frog

Painted Turtle

Gray Tree Frog

Cheboygan State Park [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Cheboygan. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Cheboygan State Park headquarters, (231) 627-2811; DNR Operations Service Center at Gaylord, (989) 732-3541. From Cheboygan drive east on US-23 four miles to the park entrance on the left (north) side of the road.  Located on the Straits of Mackinac and Duncan Bay in upper Lake Huron, this gem of a state park has seven miles of Great Lakes frontage. Its rich mixture of habitats is one of its strong points. Habitats close to the lake range from Great Lakes marshes, to cobblestone and lake sand beaches, to open sand dunes, to inter-dunal wetlands. Inland habitats are forested, ranging from dry maple, beach, and oak forests, to moist northern white cedar and lowland conifer swamps. The park offers modern camping facilities, rustic cabins, marked hiking and skiing trails, and a rich diversity of plants and animals. The seven miles of marked hiking trails pass through diverse habitats and offer hikers great wildlife viewing opportunities. Some of the best wildlife watching in the park awaits those who are willing to take a map and compass and set off on their own into the wildness that this special site has to offer.  This park offers superb bird watching opportunities due to its rich and diverse habitats. The swamps and wetlands in the low, wet areas along Lake Huron are good places to see ducks, geese, egrets, herons, and even the elusive American bittern. Several species of gulls, the rare black tern and common tern, plus the Caspian tern, can be seen working these wetlands and extensive shorelines for food. The park’s coastal habitats have a number of threatened and endangered plants such as Houghton’s goldenrod, Pitcher’s thistle, and dwarf lake iris. Many orchid species including the Calypso and ram’s head orchids are found in the moist white cedar habitats. Carnivorous (insect-eating) pitcher plants are common here, but you’ll have to get off the trails to find them. Look for their tall and beautiful, deep red flowers in mid to late summer in wetland habitats in the park. Colorful speckled brook trout may be seen in Little Billy Elliot’s Creek during late summer, and concentrations of black bass are often found in the weed beds of Duncan Bay near the campground. Bobcats are common in the interior of the park. Although these shy and reclusive predators are rarely seen, campers sometimes hear them screaming at night. The scream is a normal call for the bobcat, but it can definitely catch your attention if you’ve never heard it before.

White-tail Deer - 300 x 225
Walking Stick - 300 x 225

Polyphenmus Moth-1 - 300 x 225

Scarlet Tanager - 300 x 225

White-tail Deer Fawn

Walking Stick

Polyphenmus Moth

Scarlet Tanager

Fletcher Pond And Floodwaters [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Hillman.  For the public boat access, drive 2 miles east out of Hillman  on M-32 to Jack’s Landing Road. Turn right (south) and continue  to the ending of the road at the shoreline of Fletcher Floodwaters.Privately owned shoreline. Numerous  private resorts in area.  This 9,000-acre flooding was created by damming the South Branch of the Thunder Bay River for hydro electric power generation. Prior to its being flooded in the 1930s, this area was a large cedar swamp and historically provided wintering habitat for over 5000 deer annually. The shoreline is privately owned. Resort and cottage development is most heavy on the northern shores, the eastern and western shores are less developed. Southern portions of the lakeshore are owned by several large, private hunt clubs and are still largely in their natural state. The lake, being a large flooding, is shallow and has many dead snags and floating logs created when it was flooded. There are extensive areas of cattails in the shallow shoreline areas, especially in the southern portions of the lake. The lake is well-known for its fishing, both summer and winter. A public boat access has been developed on the north shore off Jack’s Landing Road. Numerous private resorts along this portion of the lake provide boat rentals, lodging and meals, camping, and other amenities.   Most wildlife viewing here is done by boat. Although viewing opportunities are fairly good throughout the lake, the better opportunities and best wildlife habitat are found in the more wild and undeveloped southern portions. This large, shallow flooding provides excellent habitat for ducks, geese, and other aquatic birds. Watch for herons and egrets silently stalking fish and frogs in the shallows, and the many coves and bays along the ragged shoreline. More than 25 osprey nesting platforms have been installed on the flooding. Many of these are used each year, creating one of, if not the highest concentration of nesting ospreys in Michigan. Do not approach nesting ospreys, but sit in your boat and watch these amazing anglers snatch fish from the open water for their young. Ospreys often go into the water up to their wings, and sometimes even plunge completely underwater to snag their next meal. They have an unusual ability of lifting themselves vertically out of the water by curving their wings in front of them in an almost circular pattern, cupping the air to get airborne.  Eagle nests are located on nearby hunt clubs to the south, and eagles are often seen fishing the lake. The flooding is also a good place to see eagles in the winter months. Heavy ice fishing on the lake attracts many eagles, which feed all winter on fish left for them by anglers. Cormorant numbers have been increasing on the lake in recent years. On a summer evening, take a casual drive down Farrier Road, west of the lake and take advantage of the opportunity to view deer and flocks of wild turkeys in adjacent farm fields. Bear are also quite common in the area and an important bear travel corridor lies in the forest areas just to the east of the flooding.

Grass River Natural Area [Wildlife Viewing], 6500 Alden Highway, PO Box 231, Bellaire, MI 49615, Phone: (231) 533-8314

Grayling Fish Hatchery Museum, 4890 W. North Down River Road, Grayling, MI  49738, Phone: (989) 348-7386. Rasmus Hanson founded the Grayling Fish Hatchery on 1914 in hopes of restoring the grayling fish to the depleted waters of the AuSable River system.  While the grayling eventually did become extinct in Michigan, the Hatchery continued to play an important role in the conservation of our natural resources. The Grayling Fish Hatchery during its early years was instrumental in hatching and raising trout for rivers throughout the state of Michigan, and arguably had one of the best records of all the hatcheries at that time for fish hatched and planted. In 1926 the Grayling Fish Hatchery was sold to the State of Michigan, under the premise that the state would double the Hatchery’s capacity and make other improvements.  It continued to serve as a fish hatchery and tourist attraction until the mid 1960’s.  In 1995 the State of Michigan sold the property to Crawford County.      Since that time the Grayling Recreation Authority has been managing a small section of the property for the enjoyment of some 17,000 annual visitors.  The Hatchery is now undergoing a two-phase restoration, which will refurbish this neglected jewel, provide a centerpiece for the Grayling area, and fulfill the promise that its founders had once dreamed for it. The Grayling Fish Hatchery is open Every Day from 12 Noon until 6 p.m. 7 days a week,  through Labor Day. 

Hart-Montague Trail State Park and And White Lake Trailway  [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Towns: Major trailheads at Hart and Montague.  Michigan Department of Natural Resources (231) 873-3083.  From Ludington, take US-31 south to the Hart exit. Turn left (east) onto Polk Road and proceed about one mile. The trailhead is on the left (north) side of Polk Road, near downtown Hart. From Muskegon, take US-31 north to the Whitehall exit. The trail can be accessed either in Whitehall or Montague.  This site is composed of twenty-two miles of abandoned railroad corridor that have been converted into a recreation trail. The northern portion of this paved trail is hilly and winding, while the southern segment is generally straight and flat. The trail meanders through agricultural lands, orchards, and forest, including a portion of the Manistee National Forest. A three-mile section of trail has been added that extends through the Cities of Montague and Whitehall and has been titled the White Lake Trailway.  High probability of seeing many varieties of songbirds year-round. Moderate probability of seeing deer in fields and orchards along the trail especially in the morning and evening. There is a great abundance of wildflowers from spring through summer. Look for remnant prairie grasses along the trail in the town of Mears.  Viewing platforms with picnic tables are located between Mears and Rothbury offering scenic, panoramic views of the surrounding wooded areas. The bridge over the White River on the White Lake Trailway also provides many wildlife viewing opportunities. Trail passes are no longer required to use the trail.

Hartwick Pines State Park [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Towns: Frederic and Grayling. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Hartwick Pines State Park headquarters, (989) 348-7068.  From Grayling, drive north on I-75 to Exit 259. Head northbound on M-93 and proceed about 2 miles and look for the park entrance sign on the left side of the road.  Hartwick Pines State Park is the largest state park in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula. Fittingly, it also contains the largest stand of virgin white pines remaining in the lower peninsula. Visitors can relax in the Michigan Forest Visitor Center and learn more about Michigan's forests in an exhibit hall that focuses on the history of logging, forestry, and the numerous ways we utilize trees in our daily lives. It also is the main interpretive center for the 3.9 million acre state forest system managed by the DNR—the largest state forest system in the United States. Visitors are also invited to experience the Logging Museum buildings, where you are taken back in time to life in a 1880s logging camp and explore the history of the white pine logging era, when most of Michigan's northern lower peninsula was covered with the huge, majestic trees that still can be seen here.  In addition to the virgin pines, the park has a good mixture of other forest types that typically grow on the sandy soils found in this part of Michigan. These habitats include northern hardwood forests (beech and maple), jack pine and oak forests, and lowland conifer forests (cedar, spruce and tamarack). Several small lakes, the East Branch of the Au Sable River and its associated streams and wetlands further add to the diversity that makes this park very attractive to wildlife.  A 50-acre stand of virgin pine trees is one of the premier attractions of this site. These trees were saved from the lumberman's axe. Stroll the Old Growth Forest Foot Trail and let your mind imagine how much of northern Michigan must have looked when these forest monarchs stretched from shore to shore. Because of its age, this vestige of virgin pines is gradually dying, and some are dead. These dead trees are not totally dead, however, since they continue to provide habitat for woodpeckers, chipmunks, woodland mice, bats, salamanders, dozens of insects, and other smaller life forms that thrive on dead or dying trees. Watch for the hairy and downy woodpeckers, the red and white breasted nuthatches, the northern flicker, even the crow-sized pileated woodpecker foraging for insects in the dead snags or downed trees along the trails.  Throughout the spring and into the summer, you cannot walk more than a few feet along the trail without hearing the resident solitary vireo, blackburnian warbler, or black-throated green warbler. Also, watch and listen for the melodic trill of the pine warbler, and the raspy, robin-like call of the scarlet tanager — all popular species of these northern mature pine habitats. Red and black squirrels are very common in the park, and can be seen from dawn to dusk. Black squirrels are actually just a dark color phase of the gray squirrel that is common throughout the eastern United States. Larger mammals like white-tailed deer, bobcats, coyotes, and black bear are also found here. Stop at the visitor center for more information and maps, and ask about these and the other wildlife viewing opportunities available in this special state park.

Houghton Lake Flats South Unit [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Houghton Lake Heights.   Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, Roscommon Operations Service Center, (989) 275-5151.  On M-55, O.7 miles east of US-127 turn north on Old US-27 and drive about 1.9 miles, look for the observation platform and fishing platform, and park on the small paved parking lot on the left (west) side of Old US- 27.    This viewing site is a moderately sized wetland on the west edge of Houghton Lake, Michigan’s largest inland lake. Current water levels were created in the late1950s as part of a mitigation project between Michigan DNR and the Michigan Department of Transportation when the US-27 freeway was built. US-27 on the west and Old US-27 on the east, plus cross dikes between the two roadways, enclose the marsh on four sides, providing water level management. Levels are managed with pumps and control structures to enhance fish and wetland wildlife habitat. Large birds and other wildlife can be viewed easily from both highways. A parking area, an elevated wildlife observation platform, and a fishing deck have been constructed along Old-27. Because of the convenience of the observation platform and on-site parking – and the abundant wildlife – Houghton Lake Flats is an excellent place to watch wildlife, and a great place to stop when you don’t have a lot of time to spend.  This managed wetland area is lush with wetland vegetation and wildlife. A quick stop here almost anytime during the spring, summer, and fall will be rewarded with sightings of osprey, ducks, geese, herons, shorebirds, and marshland songbirds. Great blue herons are common here. The herons have established a nesting colony, called a rookery, just to the north on a nearby wetland. Black terns, an increasingly rare species in Michigan, nest here and may be seen flying low and hovering over the water as they search for food. Several osprey nesting platforms have been installed in the marsh and are used each year by ospreys which benefit from the excellent fishing in Houghton Lake. Several bald eagle nests are located in the vicinity of the Flats and eagles are often observed as well. Muskrats, raccoons, mink, and river otters live here year round. They are seen occasionally, most often at dawn. Use binoculars from your car, from the observation decks, or perhaps even take a stroll on the mowed cross dikes on the north and south ends of the flooding to enjoy one of the best and quickest wildlife viewing stops in mid-Michigan.

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Isle Royale National Park [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Towns: Houghton and Copper Harbor.  Park Service, 800 East Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, Michigan 49931, Phone: (906) 482-0984.  Ferry SERVICES:  Building, Dental, Personal, Professional, Medical, Real Estate, Rental, Repair, etc.:  Building, Dental, Personal, Professional, Medical, Real Estate, Rental, Repair, etc.operate from Houghton, Copper Harbor,  and from Grand Portage, Minnesota. Seaplane service is also  available in Houghton. Wheeled vehicles are not permitted on  the island. However, you may transport a motorboat or canoe  to the island on the National Park Service ferry.  Isle Royale is a pristine island wilderness area. Its rocky cliffs and jagged coastline stand in stark contrast to the flat blue surface of Lake Superior. The island is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide. It is an archipelago, with the main island surrounded by over 400 smaller islands. The vegetation is primarily forested and its forests are in transition. The aspen and white birch that followed forest fires caused by early settlers are rapidly declining due to lack of fire. Northern boreal forests of balsam fir, white spruce, and white birch occur near Lake Superior and along some interior lakes and streams where it is moist and cool. On warmer and higher interior ridges, sugar maple and yellow birch predominate. This diversity is further enhanced by dozens of inland lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands. Nearly all of the island is officially designated as wilderness and is probably one of the most intact ecosystems in Michigan due to its isolation and lack of human influence.  Wheeled vehicles are not permitted on the island, and low impact, leave-no-trace camping is required, making this site a backpacker’s dream. It contains more than 160 miles of hiking trails and nearly 40 primitive campgrounds. Numerous private ferry and seaplane SERVICES:  Building, Dental, Personal, Professional, Medical, Real Estate, Rental, Repair, etc.:  Building, Dental, Personal, Professional, Medical, Real Estate, Rental, Repair, etc.are available to transport you and your gear to the island. A modern resort, the Rock Harbor Lodge, is open the first week in June into the first week in September. Isle Royale is not the kind of site where you can just "drop in." You have to make a serious commitment of time and resources to visit the island. Getting there requires a six-hour ferry ride from Houghton. Call ahead for details and reservations, and make your plans thoughtfully.  A visit to this site is a special experience that will remain with you forever. The beauty of this pristine wilderness—trees, wildflowers, water, and wildlife—and the mystique of experiencing this wildness on a remote island, is difficult to describe. Isle Royale offers visitors a chance to completely immerse themselves in a unique island ecosystem.  Whether you tour Isle Royale on foot or by boat, wildlife viewing opportunities are abundant. For most visitors, moose and wolves are at the top of their wildlife viewing wish list. Moose are seen fairly commonly, and often experienced at close range. Hike slowly and quietly almost anywhere on the island for an opportunity to see one of these largest members of the deer family. Moose came to Isle Royale in the early 1900s, probably swimming from the Canadian mainland. Because they had no natural predators on the island at that time, the moose population grew rapidly until there was not enough food to go around. With nothing left to eat, the moose population crashed due to starvation. Over time, the plants that had sustained the moose slowly began to grow back. As the few remaining moose found more and more food, they again began to reproduce rapidly, and the cycle started all over again.  In the winter of 1948-49 a pack of eastern timber wolves crossed the ice of Lake Superior to Isle Royale. Wolves are natural predators of moose, but the relationship between these two species is very complex. The interactions among wolves, moose, and the island’s vegetation have been the subject of pioneering wildlife research for over 45 years; research that continues today. In the late winter of 2002, researchers estimated the moose population to be 1,100 animals. The wolves, in three packs, totaled seventeen animals. The stealthy and secretive wolves are rarely seen, but a few lucky wildlife watchers catch glimpses of them occasionally. In addition to moose, opportunities for viewing common loons, beaver, and red foxes are excellent. Beaver activity may be seen anytime along the hiking trails and streams. The beavers themselves are mostly nocturnal, but they may be seen during the early and the last light of day.  Before making the trip to Isle Royale, visitors should do some advance reading on the wildlife and other natural resources of this special place. It will make the trip much more interesting and fulfilling, and much safer. Isle Royale offers a peaceful, picturesque, wilderness experience. Visitation is limited to keep it that way. Yellowstone National Park has more visitors some days than Isle Royale has all year. About 20,000 visitors come to the island annually. Most of the people you encounter here—whether on the ferry, on the trail, or in the only restaurant at Rock Harbor—are seeking that same wilderness experience.

Brown Snake-300 x 225
Cottontail Rabbit - 300 x 225
Eastern Chipmunk - 300 x 225
Indigo Bunting - 300 x 225

Brown Snake

Cottontail Rabbit

Eastern Chipmunk

Indigo Bunting

Kirtland Warbler Habitat, Mio, MI 48647. Phone: (989) 826-3252.  Nesting area of endangered songbird.  Characterized by jack pines.  Area posted and closed to public during the nesting season (May-July), but accessible via guided tours conducted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Servcie.

Luzerne Boardwalk [Wildlife Viewing Area] - U.S. Forest Service, Mio District Ranger Station, (989) 826-3252. Closest Town: Luzerne.  From the M-72 traffic light in Luzerne, drive south on Deeter Road for 1/2 mile to Palmer Road. Turn left (east) and proceed 1/4 mile to Galloway Road. Turn right (south) and drive 3/8 mile to Forest Road 3023. Turn left onto this two-track and drive until it ends at the Luzerne Boardwalk parking area. Boardwalk winds through an old growth cedar swamp along the bottomlands of the East Branch of Big Creek, just south of the village of Luzerne. With towering cedars overhead and water underneath, the sturdy boardwalk (constructed and used by horseback riders) offers a unique and beautiful hike. An extensive network of hiking/horse trails extends beyond the one-half mile boardwalk, but the boardwalk itself is not a loop trail. A tornado crossed this area in 1997 and uprooted some large white pine and cedar trees. These dead snags and downed timber attract woodpeckers and chickadees and provide cover for a variety of wildlife species including bears and bobcats.  Good birding can be found here during  spring and fall migration. In April and May, male  American woodcock may be heard and seen performing  their mating ritual in the air and upland fields near  the parking area. Nesting birds heard and often seen  during summer include ovenbirds, cedar waxwings, winter  wrens, and black-throated green warblers. Flowers  such as marsh marigold, sundew, turtlehead and jewelweed  can be spotted along the boardwalk. Native brook trout  can be viewed on occasion from a bridge that crosses  over the creek, especially in the fall when they are  spawning. A moss-covered opening adjacent to Big Creek  one-quarter mile from the beginning of the boardwalk  is a special place, and is home to edge species such  as indigo buntings and song sparrows. The two-track road and parking area are  rough and narrow. Campers and R.V.'s should avoid  this site.

Marl Lake And South Higgins Lake State Park [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Michigan Department of Natural Resources, South Higgins Lake Park Headquarters, (989) 821-6374.  Closest Town: Roscommon.  From I-75 exit 239, head west/southwest on M-18 just past the exit ramp and turn right (west) onto Robinson Lake Road. Follow Robinson Lake Road about 3 miles west to the blinker at County Rd. 100, turn left and follow about 3.5 miles to Park entrance.  From US-27 just south of Higgins Lake, exit onto County Road 104. Turn east and proceed 6.5 miles to the entrance of Marl Lake on the right and South Higgins State Park on the left. South Higgins Lake State Park is nestled between Higgins Lake and Marl Lake. This popular park totals about a thousand acres and is split in half by County Road 100. Higgins Lake, a modern campground, boat launch, beach, and picnic area are to the north of the road. To the south lies Marl Lake, more wildness, and better wildlife viewing. The Marl Lake portion of the park is about 700 acres and includes Marl Lake and a small boat launch with vault toilets. This area is also the parking area and trailhead for the five mile hiking trail along and around the west and south shores of Marl Lake. The Marl Lake upland is forested with oak, maple, and pine predominating with some white birch, ash, and other species mixed in.   Marl Lake offers a good opportunity to view bald eagles. April and June are the best months for this, since eagles nest nearby and spend considerable time fishing in this shallow lake. Another bird you may see fishing in Marl Lake is the belted kingfisher. While bald eagles try to snatch fish near the surface with their talons, kingfishers prefer to dive in headfirst, catching small fish in their bills. Walk the trails at the state park to view woodland songbirds. The more common are rose-breasted grosbeaks, red-eyed vireos, great crested flycatchers, woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches. While on the trails you may also catch a glimpse of beavers, muskrats, white tailed deer, foxes, and wild turkeys. Marl Lake is an excellent place to view migrating waterfowl in April and May, particularly diving ducks such as common mergansers, buffleheads, goldeneyes, scaup, and ringnecks. Loons are also common during spring migration, but they do not nest here.

Millie Mine Bat Caves [Wildlife Viewing], Iron Mountain, MI, Park Ave. off East A Street, This unique site is 350 feet deep, with a consistent temperature of 40 degrees, just right for the furry little bats that need a place to stay for the winter. Seven species, from 5 states and Canada, making it the second largest known colony of hibernating bats in North America. They leave the mine in late April and return in September, making this the only viewing times. Parking lot, walking path, benches, and informational plaques. FREE!

Partridge Point Wetland [Wildlife Viewing], 1175 N. Partridge Point Rd., Alpena, MI 49707, Phone: (989) 356-4812

Pigeon River County State Forest, Wolverine, MI, Phone: (989) 983-4101.  September and October are prime months to see elk which are about four times the size of a white-tailed deer. In early September, the bull elk (an adult weighs as much as 1,000 pounds or more) begin to gather their harems for the annual breeding season.  Elk herd, Bear, bobcat and coyote.  Waterfowl and songbirds.

Pigeon River Country Elk Range [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Gaylord, Vanderbilt  and Wolverine.  Michigan Department of Natural Resources (517) 732-3541.  From Vanderbilt, drive east on Sturgeon Valley Road about ten miles to one of the designated elk viewing sites. For more information, continue east about three miles to Hardwood Lake Road. Turn left (north) and continue about one mile to the Forestry Field Office. This office has maps and information about elk viewing, but hours are variable depending on the season.  The Pigeon River Country State Forest and surrounding land is home to the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Mississippi River. The nearly 100,000-acre state forest contains native hardwoods and pines that are interspersed with fields and forest openings. The Department of Natural Resources maintains this excellent elk habitat through careful forest and wildlife management.  Elk inhabit this site year-round, but certain times are better for viewing than others. Probably the best month is September, when the males (bulls) are trying to establish dominance for mating rights with the females (cows). They are very active during this time, making loud vocalizations (bugling), and breaking brush with their antlers to impress cows and intimidate their rivals. If you plan to visit during September, try to arrive during the week. Elk viewing has become very popular and weekends are crowded. Another good time to view elk is from late April through early May. Elk are active throughout the daylight hours eating the new green growth and there are few people out to see them. Several elk viewing sites have been established on this site. These are not the only places you can see elk, but they are located in known elk gathering spots, and are good places to start.  The best viewing is done from your car, since elk are accustomed to seeing cars. Use binoculars or spotting scopes for best results. Do not approach elk. Despite their large size, they are timid animals and will not tolerate much disturbance.

Reedsburg Dead Stream Flooding [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Towns: Merritt, Houghton Lake Heights.  Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Roscommon Operations Service Center, (989) 275-5151.  On M-55, O.7 miles east of US-27 turn north on Old US-27 and drive for 2.5 miles to County Road 300. Turn left (west) and continue 1.5 miles to Michelson Road. Turn right (north) and proceed to the small parking lot at Dead Stream Flooding.  This flooding is one of the largest managed wetlands in the northern Lower Peninsula. There is a state forest campground near the Reedsburg dam on the south end of the flooding. No other developments or improvements are found at this site, but the small boat ramps beckon you to a wonderful wilderness experience.  The flooding is usually teeming with wildlife, and with a short trip upstream in a non-motorized boat you can explore the 30,000-acre Dead Stream Swamp-the largest semi-wilderness area in the Lower Peninsula.  The extensive beds of wild rice that grow in the flooding are very attractive to many kinds of waterfowl in the fall. Species that may be seen here include buffleheads, goldeneyes, wood ducks, Canada geese, black ducks and mallards. Scaup, mergansers, and loons are also seen here in the early spring right after the ice breaks up. Spring is a great time to view waterfowl because many of them are in their colorful breeding plumage. An active bald eagle nest is visible on the opposite shore one of the boat ramps.  Eagle viewing is very good during spring and through mid to late June when young eaglets leave their nest. Several osprey platforms have been placed in the flooding and most of them are used each year by nesting ospreys. Ospreys are very common sightings on the flooding. Please do not attempt to approach the eagle or osprey nests. Muskrats, mink, and river otters also make this area their home, and may be seen by the stealthy observer.

Rifle River Recreation Area [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Michigan Department of Natural Resources (989) 473-2258.  Closest Towns: Lupton, Rose City.  Water is a big attraction at Rifle River. There are more than ten miles of streams and river here, as well as 10 lakes and ponds. This site also showcases a wide variety of habitat types, including upland hardwood and pine forest, open grassland, lowland forest, cedar swamp, bog, marsh, and open water. Fourteen miles of hiking/biking trails begin at the campground; many of these trails are groomed for skiers.  Excellent opportunity to view unique waterfowl at this site. The huge trumpeter swan, Michigan’s largest bird, may be seen on any of the lakes. Trumpeters were released here by the Department of Natural Resources as a part of a reintroduction program. Loons usually nest on Grebe Lake in the spring. Please view both of these rare birds from a distance and do not disturb them, especially during breeding season. A scenic overlook from the Lodge Hill will delight viewers with a bird’s eye view of the area. In May, the trail offers wonderful wildflower viewing. Look for Indian paintbrush, cardinal flower, several types of lady’s slippers, and others. Stop at the headquarters for maps and other information.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge [Wildlife Viewing], 1674 Refuge Entrance Rd., Seney, MI 49883, Phone: (906) 586-9851,  Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Today, Seney supports a variety of wildlife, including endangered and reintroduced species. Bald eagles, common loons, and trumpeter swans are regularly seen during the summer months, especially June and July, when they are raising their young. Peak populations of waterfowl are present in early spring and early fall. Common species observed include Canada geese, hooded mergansers, mallards, black ducks, ring-necked ducks, and wood ducks. Sandhill cranes can be observed in moderate numbers prior to fall migration. Animals that live on the Refuge but are not always seen include black bear, white-tailed deer, coyote, river otter, beaver, ruffed, spruce, and sharp-tailed grouse, yellow rails, and woodcock. Biting insects (black flies, deer flies, and mosquitoes) can be a problem during warmer months. Wood ticks may also be found in this area.

Silver Mountain [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Baraga. U.S. Forest Service (906) 884-2411.  From Baraga, travel west on M-38 about 9.5 miles  to Prickett Dam Road (FS 2270). Turn left (south) and follow  the signs to the Silver Mountain parking area.  Beautiful, scenic vistas of the Upper Peninsula await the hearty souls willing to climb the 250-plus boulder-strewn steps to the top of Silver Mountain. The stairs are a rugged climb, and the site offers few amenities, so come prepared.   In addition to spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, Silver Mountain offers excellent opportunities to view migrating birds-of-prey (raptors).  n May-June and again in September-October, watch broad-winged and red-tailed hawks soaring on the strong updrafts of wind that whistle up the mountainside. Smaller sharp-shinned hawks and American kestrels are also common during migration.

Sturgeon River Sloughs [Wilflife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Chassell.  Michigan Department of Natural  Resources, (906) 353-6651.  From Chassell, drive south on US-41 about one mile  to the North Unit parking lot entrance on the left side of the  road. Drive another 6 miles south on US-41 and turn right on  Arnheim Road, then drive about 1 mile west to the South Unit  access road. There are 2 parking lots located along this road.  This site has two separate land management units; a North Unit, located just off US-41, and a South Unit, located 1 mile west of US-41 off of Arnheim Road. This site provides a wonderful look at the wetlands associated with the Portage and Sturgeon Rivers. An observation tower adjacent to the parking area gives visitors a panoramic view of this wildlife area. A 1.5-mile nature trail and boardwalk begins at the parking area.  This wildlife area is enhanced with earthen dikes that allow wildlife biologists to raise and lower water levels for the benefit of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wetland wildlife. There are fields with food plots and grassy cover for foraging and nesting. In addition to the ducks and geese found here, it is common to see great blue herons, bald eagles, marsh hawks, sandhill cranes, and ospreys in and around this attractive wetland area. Beavers, muskrats, mink, black bears, and white-tailed deer also make their homes here and are best viewed at dawn and dusk.

Tawas Point State Park [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Michigan Department of Natural Resources (989) 362-5041.  Closest Town: East Tawas.  From East Tawas take US-23 north one mile to Tawas Beach Road. Turn right (east) and proceed about 2.5 miles to the park entrance on the right side of the road. True to its name, this site sits on a point that sticks out into Lake Huron. Narrow, sandy beaches line both sides of the point and an interpretive trail runs from the campground to the tip of the point.  Because it sticks out from the surrounding shoreline, Tawas Point is attractive to waterfowl and shorebirds. See large concentrations of these birds from early March through May. Watch the Lake Huron side of the point for shorebirds and the Tawas Bay side for waterfowl. During May, you may also see other kinds of birds migrating north including broad-winged hawks, turkey vultures, warblers, and blue jays. But birds are not the only kinds of animals that migrate. In mid-August, monarch butterflies often congregate on the Point to rest as they make their annual journey south to Mexico for the winter.

Thompson State Fish Hatchery [Wildlife Viewing], 944 S State Highway M149, Manistique, MI 49854, Phone (906)341-5587.    Thompson State Fish Hatchery was established in 1922 and was completely renovated in 1978. This facility can produce a wide range of fish species for both inland and Great Lake waters because of its unique water supply. Coldwater species produced at Thompson include: Atlantic salmon (the only state hatchery to produce these fish), chinook salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout and brown trout. Coolwater species produced at Thompson include both walleye and northern muskellunge. This facility has both indoor and outdoor rearing capabilities. The indoor facility contains 42 tanks for rearing of small fingerlings. The outdoor facility contains 12 raceways for rearing yearling trout. Thompson hatchery had a new interpretive center installed in 2003. The new interpretive center provides information on the importance of small tributaries to the Great Lakes, how watersheds work, how a hatchery operates as well as art work and a hands-on computer center which challenges people of all ages to learn about hatcheries and fisheries management.

Thompson's Harbor State Park [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Rogers City.  Michigan Department  of Natural Resources (989) 734-2543. From Rogers City, take US-23 east about 12 miles  to the park entrance on the left (north) side of the road.  There are no facilities or improvements at this rustic state park that includes 7 miles of Lake Huron shoreline. Primitive hiking trails wander throughout the second growth forest, sand dunes, and limestone cobble beaches of this site. Visitors are also encouraged to bring a map and compass and explore the “uncharted” portions of the park.  Much of this park’s Lake Huron shoreline is covered with cobblestones that have been rounded by centuries of wind and wave action. Fossils of ancient plants and animals are common on these unique cobble beaches. Please leave the fossils behind for others to find and enjoy. There are more than 3 miles of hiking trails and old survey roads that provide access to the park’s undeveloped interior. Hike these trails in late May and June to see beautiful spring wildflower blooms. The rare dwarf lake iris may be seen in late May along the trails and on the shoreline just west of Observatory point. Bald eagles, black bears, coyotes, and white-tailed deer all call this site home.

Tomahawk Creek Flooding [Wildlife Viewing Area] - Closest Town: Atlanta.  Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta Management Unit, (989) 785-4251, From Atlanta, drive north on M-33 about 15 miles until you see signs for the campground at Tomahawk Lake Road. Turn right (east) and follow the signs.  Nutrient-poor, sandy soils and a jack pine-oak forest with scattered stands of red pine and aspen, characterize this portion of the Mackinaw State Forest. Water from Tomahawk Creek has been impounded to form a broad, shallow lake that proves wonderful habitat for wetland-related wildlife. Habitat management for elk and deer on state forestlands in the vicinity of the lake has created many different age classes of forest stands, plus many large grassy openings. This forest habitat diversity attracts a wide variety of breeding songbird species. Trail roads crisscross the sandy ridges and rolling hills that surround the lake offering good access to nearby state forest lands.  This peaceful setting provides the perfect backdrop for viewing nesting loons and osprey in May and June. Watch them from the two campgrounds on the shoreline with binoculars or a spotting scope, or for a better look, try a boat or canoe ride from one of the flooding’s two boat ramps. Do not approach or disturb nesting loons or ospreys! Bald eagles also nest near this large flooding. Water levels in the flooding fluctuate seasonally, more so than in nearby lakes. This often exposes wide sandy shorelines during the drier summer months, which are used by wading birds and migrating shorebirds. The dead snags on the flooding are good sites to see a variety of woodpeckers and tree swallows. Habitat management for elk and deer and other forest wildlife on state forest lands in the general vicinity of the lake has created many different forest age classes, plus created many grassy openings. This diverse habitat attracts a wider variety of breeding songbird species. The flooding lies within the Clear Lake Kirtland’s Warbler Management Area. Jack pine-oak stands in this special management unit, particularly south and east of the flooding, are intensively managed for the endangered Kirtland’s warbler and the dozens of other wildlife species that benefit from this special jack pine ecosystem management. A wide diversity of songbirds are found in the different aged jack pine and oak areas resulting from this management, and in turn, offer excellent wildlife viewing from mid-May through mid-July.

Fox Squirrel & Black Squirrel - 300 x 225
American Toad - 300 x 225
Brown Snake - 300 x 225
Eastern Grey Squirrel - 300 x 225

Fox Squirrel & Black Squirrel

American Toad

Brown Snake

Grey Squirrel

Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area [Wildlife Viewing Area] - U.S. Forest Service  Phone: (989) 739-0728.  From Tawas City, take Monument Road north about one mile to Wilber Road. Turn right and proceed 3 miles to the stop sign at Galion Road. Turn right and drive 1/2 mile to Sherman Road. Turn left and continue 1.5 miles to May Road. Turn right and drive 1/2 mile to Brooks Road. Turn right and follow the winding gravel road for 1/5 mile to Tuttle Marsh Road on the left. Tuttle Marsh Road is about 4 miles long.   A 400-acre impoundment is at the heart of this site, which is surrounded by hundreds more acres of seasonally flooded wetlands. Tuttle Marsh has no facilities or developments, but visitors are encouraged to use the wetland dike as a hiking trail.  Thousands of waterfowl use this flooding as a feeding and resting location during their spring and fall migrations. Spring is the best time to view waterfowl here because water levels are high and ducks are in their colorful breeding plumage. Teal, goldeneyes, mallards, and Canada geese are the most commonly seen species. During summer, much of the wetland may dry up, but the impoundment still attracts herons, American bitterns, and the many shorebirds that come to feed in the exposed mud flats. During winter, large herds of deer may congregate here.

Wakeley Lake Foot Travel Area [Wildlife Viewing Area] - U.S. Forest Service, Mio District Ranger Office, (989) 826-3252.  Closest Town: Grayling.  From Grayling, drive east on M-72 about 10 miles to the entrance road and parking lot on the left (north) side of the road. Look for Wakeley Lake direction signs along M-72.  Wakeley Lake is a semi-primitive, non-motorized foot travel area administered by the US Forest Service. It is a shallow, marshy lake that provides good fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. Habitat around the lake includes tag alder, willow, and other shrubs, while upland habitats are largely a conifer-hardwood mix. A mature stand of red and white pine is located to the east of the lake. Aspen, oak, and cherry with some pine is found on much of the rest of the upland. The outlet on the lake is on the north shore and includes an earthen dam that was built to raise water levels and to increase the size of the wetland lake. Beavers also work at keeping water levels elevated. A series of foot trails provide access to the areas around and away from the lake. A small, rustic, walk-in campground is found in the tall pines just east of the lake. The parking lot is immediately north of M-72. Visitors must park and walk the 1/4-mile trail to the lake. Motorized vehicles are not permitted in this two-thousand-acre site to allow for a quieter and more natural setting for wildlife and people.  Common loons take up residence on Wakeley Lake during spring and summer, and bald eagles nest nearby, coming here to fish in the shallow waters. Ospreys also fish the lake. It has good populations of pike, bass, and panfish that attract these birds-of-prey. Sport fishing is restricted to artificial bait only, and from June 15 to August 31 only. This is strictly a catch and release fishery. In addition to the loons, eagles, and ospreys, river otters and mink also take advantage of this good fishery, although they seem to ignore the catch-and-release rules. There are trails in the forest around the lake that are open to hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. Rich and diverse habitats in this area offer more than 115 species of birds to see or hear throughout the year. Trumpeter swans are regular visitors to the lake in late winter and early spring, but are not known to nest on the lake.

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory [Wildlife Viewing], 6914 N Whitefish Point Road, Paradise, MI 49768, Phone: (906) 492-3596.  Being the northeastern tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Whitefish Point is a phenomenal concentration spot for migrating raptors, waterbirds, and song birds. The surrounding land and water features create a natural corridor, funneling thousands of birds directly to the Point each spring and fall as they travel thorough the Great Lakes region. This makes for spectacular bird-watching and provides tremendous opportunities to study and monitor bird populations.



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