Escanaba River State Forest

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Escanaba River State Forest is a state forest in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It includes forested lands in Alger, Delta, Marquette, and Menominee Counties. The forest is operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Like other Michigan state forests, Escanaba River is made up of clear cut parcels of forest land that were seen by their owners as worthless after the old-growth timber had been cut. The parcels reverted to the state of Michigan in lieu of unpaid property taxes. The state reorganized these parcels of property as the Escanaba River State Forest. The forest is now managed for active recreational purposes such as hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, and the cutting of second-growth wood for paper pulp.

The small city of Escanaba continues to this day as a nationwide center of groundwood papermaking, and uses pulpwood from the Escanaba River State Forest and from other public and private landowners.

Shaky Lakes


Recognition: State Forest Management Plan Shakey Lakes location

Size: 1,520 acres

Location: Part of the Escanaba River State Forest in Menominee County, 10 miles west of Stephenson

Management: Escanaba River State Forest

Activities: Hiking, outdoor education, wildflower and bird viewing, hunting

Importance: Shakey Lakes contains the largest area of pine and oak barrens in northern Michigan. Five distinctly different savanna ecosystems are found at the site along with five state threatened or special concern species. Historians believe that native peoples purposely set fires on a regular basis to improve game habitat and blueberry crops. These fires, along with lightning strikes, apparently maintained a savanna-type landscape. Following nearly 100 years of fire suppression, savanna restoration activities, including the use of prescribed burns, have begun at Shakey Lakes.

Rocking Chair Lakes

Recognition: Proposed for Legal Dedication, State Forest Management Plan Rocking Chair Lakes location map

Size: 240 acres

Location: Approximately 25 miles northwest of Marquette

Management: Escanaba River State Forest

Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, photography, hunting, scenic vistas, wildflower viewing

Importance: With very little use over the years, the area provides the opportunity for solitary recreation. The rugged terrain is covered by dry-mesic northern forests, which including some old-growth. This surrounds two small lakes that sit 100 feet above the Mulligan River, with a 100-200 foot tall outcrop to the west. After heavy rains and during spring runoff, the lakes overflow and cascade over the outcrop to the river below. The site occurs within an area of primary moose range.

Little Presque Isle

Recognition: Nominated for Legal Dedication (2), State Forest Management Plan (2) Little Presque Isle Natural Area location map

Size: Natural Area – 430 acres Wilderness Area – 8.6 acre island

Location: On the shore of Lake Superior, 7 miles northwest of Marquette

Management: Escanaba River State Forest

Activities: Birdwatching, camping (nearby), swimming (nearby), hunting, hiking, geologic exploration, nature study, photography

Importance: The Little Presque Isle tract is often called the crown jewel of Lake Superior, with its beautiful sand beaches, rugged shoreline cliffs, heavily timbered forests, and unmatched public views.

The proposed natural area occurs north and south of Little Presque Point, around the mouth of Harlow Creek. The area is a combination of a wooded dune and swale community and bedrock lakeshore and cliff. The wooded dunes and swales formed as post-glacial lake levels receded, depositing a series of low sandy beach ridges. Since then, the ridges have become forested with hemlock, red pine, white pine, cedar, and balsam fir, while the wet swales that developed between them are now either forested or open wetlands.

The rock comprising the area represents some of the oldest exposed formations of its kind. More than a mile of bedrock lakeshore and cliffs adorns Little Presque Isle, including sandstone cliffs that reach nearly 60 feet high toward the base of Sugar Loaf Mountain. One kind of bedrock, granitic, that occurs here is the least common bedrock type along the Great Lakes shoreline, with less than eight miles occurring in total. This is one of three areas where the public can see these 2.3 billion year old formations in Michigan.

The proposed wilderness area is a local landmark, which has significant historical value. The island was reportedly connected to the mainland sometime prior to the 1930s and was a landing place for early explorers and native inhabitants. Roughly 100 yards off the mainland, the island is accessible by wading hip deep water and offers and opportunity for solitude in a unique and scenic setting.

This land has retained its natural character, and its location next to Lake Superior and its variable terrain and timber types provide a rare and unique setting in our state. With over four miles of captivating Lake Superior shoreline and opportunities for quiet and scenic recreation, the area is dear to the heart of local residents.

Wetmore Pond

The hiking trail at Wetmore Pond offers scenic views of unique bog habitat. At this site you can hike an undeveloped trail through old-growth forest and around rugged rock outcroppings to a pristine bog habitat at Wetmore Pond. The site is located on 480 acres of MeadWestvaco land, which borders a 2,500-acre tract of the Escanaba River State forest. The trail is rough and uneven, but the viewing opportunities from the wooden bog observation platform are well worth the effort.

Wildlife Viewing

A bog is a unique wetland habitat that receives very little influx of fresh water. Decaying vegetation causes the water to become acidic, which supports a fragile community of specially adapted plants and animals.

Sphagnum moss grows in thick, floating mats on the water’s surface and is often mistaken for solid ground. Carnivorous (meat eating) pitcher plants are also common in this habitat. They digest insects to supplement the scarce nutrients available in this acidic environment. During the spring and fall migrations, ducks and geese congregate on the bog, providing excellent viewing opportunities. White-throated sparrows and ovenbirds are also quite common here.

Portions of this area are open to public hunting. Contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for affected seasons and locations.

Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Site

The Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Site is a waterfall and state park located in far western Alger County, Michigan. The waterfall is 8 miles (13 km) south of Lake Superior near M-94. Laughing Whitefish Falls is formed by an abrupt limestone escarpment of the Laughing Whitefish River, which flows northward into Lake Superior. The falls is located within the Escanaba River State Forest. The escarpment is shaped so as to draw out the cascade into an unusual fan-shaped wall of water.

From M-94, a 2.8-mile (4.5 km) drive northward on Dorsey Road and a one-mile (1.5 km) hike from the roadhead are necessary to reach the falls.

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    46° 9′ 0″ N
  • Compass Longitude
    87° 11′ 24″ W
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