U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Hiawatha National Forest


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Forest Information

The Hiawatha National Forest is located in Michigan and encompasses about 879,600 acres. It is composed of two units, stretching from Lake Michigan, on its southern border, to Lake Superior in the north. There are 20 developed campgrounds, 18 of which meet the selection criteria.

Hiawatha National Forest celebrates Longfellow's epic poem "Song of Hiawatha." Stretching from the shores of Lake Superior (Longfellow's "Shining-Big-Sea-Water") to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the Forest contains the magnificent beauty described in the poem as well as many points of history. This is a rolling land of many lakes, rivers, and ponds surrounding by a healthy forest of mixed hardwoods offering a wide variety of recreation opportunities.

With so many lakes and rivers throughout the Hiawatha National Forest it is little wonder most developed camping locations are located on a lake or river. Many are even sandwiched between two bodies of water. Campgrounds like Widewater and Three Lakes can offer a great variety of fishing opportunities with, for example, brook trout in the nearby river and largemouth bass available in a nearby lake. Small lakes and ponds, like those near Camp 7 and Island Lake campgrounds, provide excellent fishing opportunities and are good training grounds for aspiring anglers.

Some 77 miles of the North Country Trail, a National Scenic Trail which stretches from New York to North Dakota, winds through the eastern section of the Hiawatha National Forest. Passing through stands of northern hardwoods and pine plantations, over wetlands and dunes, and along the shore of Lake Superior, the North Country Trail provides a means to explore for weekend campers or a challenge for long distance hikers. While dispersed camping locations are most often used by the long distance hikers, the most convenient developed campground to this trail is Soldier Lake. There are numerous trailheads providing access to the North Country Trail throughout the Hiawatha National Forest. (Note: Dispersed camping locations are undeveloped sites and not included in this campground directory.)

For a less intense hike, the Hiawatha National Forest has a variety of interesting trails. From the pleasant and informative Van Winkle Nature Trail to De Noc Island Trail, there are trails scattered throughout the Forest for every skill level and interest. A very special trail is the AuTrain Song Bird Trail out of the AuTrain campground, a lovely recreation vehicle (RV) and motorhome-friendly camping locations. This loop trail features a"woodland concert" from the many song birds that live in the area.

While there are only six designated camp sites in the Grand Island National Recreation Area, the island is a most interesting day trip from Bay Furnace campground. After a brief ferry ride to Grand Island, visitors can enjoy the 23-mile loop bike trail (bikes are available for rent locally) or a picnic lunch at North Point, take a rest at Trout or Murray bays while enjoying the views, or just take in the quiet and solitude of this gem of the Hiawatha National Forest.

Grand Island isn't the only day trip found in the Forest. Other candidates are Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, and, of course, there are historic lighthouses that guarded the shores of Lake Superior protecting many a sailor and his ship. And than there are less well known but equally interesting sights like Rock River Falls, Father Marquette Grave, and Christmas, Michigan.

But it is the natural beauty of the Hiawatha National Forest that keeps many visitors too busy to explore the man-made sights in the area. It would be difficult to find a better place than Lake Michigan campground for watching spectacular sunsets. Paddling along the Indian River, a canoe route used by Native Americans and Europeans, is to experience history in a very unique and special way. Few forests can boast of a more magnificent stand of old growth trees, so very accessible to all, than Squaw Creek Old Growth Area near Flowing Well campground. Here, a 64-acre parcel preserves the northwoods as it was more than one-hundred years ago.

Longfellow's heroic brave may never have actually hiked the woods of Hiawatha National Forest but his spirit lives in these northwoods. Just as the "Song of Hiawatha" is enjoyed over and over again by so many, so is the Hiawatha National Forest. With its history, scenic beauty, and recreational opportunities, visitors soon find a return trip necessary.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 2727 North Lincoln Rd. Escanaba, Michigan 49829 906-786-4062 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Manistique 499 E. Lake Shore Dr. Manistique, Michigan 49854 906-341-5666 Munising 400 E. Munising Munising, Michigan 49862 906-387-2512 Rapid River 3131 Lake Shore Dr. Rapid River, Michigan 49878 906-474-6442 Sault Ste. Marie 4000 I-75 Business Spur Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan 49783 906-635-5311 St. Ignace W1900 US 2 St. Ignace, Michigan 49781-9645 906-643-7900

Fred and Suzi Dow