Huron–Manistee National Forests

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Huron–Manistee National Forests
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Map showing National Forests in Michigan.
LocationLower Peninsula, Michigan
CoordinatesHuron 44°34′N 83°59′W / 44.57°N 83.99°W / 44.57; -83.99
Manistee 43°51′N 85°57′W / 43.85°N 85.95°W / 43.85; -85.95
AreaTotal - 978,906 acres (3,960 km2)
Huron - 438,584 acres (1,770 km2)
Manistee - 540,322 acres (2,190 km2)[1]
EstablishedHuron - 1909
Manistee - 1938
Governing bodyU.S. Forest Service
WebsiteHuron–Manistee National Forests

The Huron–Manistee National Forests are two separate national forests, the Huron National Forest and the Manistee National Forest, combined in 1945 for administration purposes and which comprise 978,906 acres (3,960 km2)[2] of public lands, including 5,786 acres (23 km2) of wetlands, extending across the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. The Huron–Manistee National Forests provide recreation opportunities for visitors, habitat for fish and wildlife, and resources for local industry. The headquarters for the forests is in Cadillac, Michigan.


Benton Lake, near the town of Baldwin in the Manistee National Forest

The Huron National Forest was established in 1909 and the Manistee National Forest in 1938. In 1945, they were administratively combined, although they are not adjacent. Huron has about 44.8% of the combined area, whereas the larger Manistee has about 55.2%.

The Huron National Forest is prone to frequent seasonal forest fires, due to ecological and geological factors including the domination of the jack pine in sections of the forests, the needles of which are extremely flammable,[3] sandy soil composition as a result of glacial outwash plain geology of sections of the Huron National Forest,[4] and jack pine barrens management practices to create nesting habitat for the Kirtland's warbler resulting in dense, young stands of jack pine that are extremely susceptible to crowning wildfires.[5]

In 2010, the Meridian Boundary Fire burned over 8,500 acres (3,400 ha) in and near the Huron District of the Huron National Forest. The fire destroyed 13 homes, damaged two others, and destroyed or damaged 46 outbuildings.[6]


The Lumberman's Monument, dedicated to the workers of the early logging industry, is located within the eastern part of the forest near Oscoda.

Huron–Manistee boasts thousands of lakes and miles of sparkling[citation needed] rivers and streams. The nationally known Pere Marquette and Au Sable Rivers offer quality canoeing and fishing. Additionally, over 330 miles (531 km) of trails are available for hiking.

The Huron–Manistee National Forests are an attraction to many campers. You do not need a permit to camp on the National Forest campgrounds. However, some do require that one pays a reservation or camping fee. A wood permit is required to cut firewood.[7]

The Manistee National Forest portion is located in northwest lower Michigan. It has varying but largely sandy terrain covered with trees. There are numerous lakes and frontage on Lake Michigan. The area is popular for fishing, camping, boating, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and hunting. The North Country Trail passes through it. It has a total area of 540,187 acres (2,190 km2). In descending order of land area it lies in parts of Lake, Newaygo, Wexford, Manistee, Mason, Oceana, Muskegon, Mecosta, and Montcalm counties. There are local ranger district offices located in Baldwin and Wellston at the historic Chittenden Nursery location.

The Manistee National Forest is not one continuous mass but is broken by private property and towns. Much of the land had been abandoned by logging companies after being logged off a century ago. The Lumberjack 100, a 100-mile ultra-endurance mountain bike race is held annually within its bounds.

The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness is a unique feature in the Manistee portion. This relatively small area of 3,450 acres (14 km2), situated on the east shore of Lake Michigan is one of the two designated wilderness areas in Michigan, and one of few in the U.S. with an extensive lake shore dunes ecosystem. Most of the dunes are 3500 to 4000 years old and some stand about 140 feet (43 m) higher than the lake. The Nordhouse Dunes are interspersed with woody vegetation such as juniper, jack pine and hemlock. There are many small water holes and marshes dotting the landscape and dune grass covers many of the dunes. The beach is wide and sandy. There are two trailheads to access Nordhouse Dunes: from the north at the Lake Michigan Recreation Site and from the south off Nurmberg Road.

The Huron National Forest portion is in northeast lower Michigan. It has a total area of 438,538 acres (1,770 km2). It lies in parts of Oscoda, Alcona, Iosco, Crawford, and Ogemaw counties. There are local ranger district offices in Mio and Oscoda.

The Bull Gap ORV Trail is located in the Huron portion. It contains 115 miles (185 km) of ORV trails.

The threatened Kirtland's warbler nests in the area, and tours are available, subject to time restrictions.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. ^ Table 6 - NFS Acreage by State, Congressional District and County - United States Forest Service - September 30, 2007
  3. ^ "Jack Pine Ecosystem". Huron–Manistee National Forests. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  4. ^ Albert, Dennis (1995). "Regional Landscape Ecosystems of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin: A Working Map and Classification" (PDF). General Technical Report NC-178. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service: 137–140. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  5. ^ Carey, Jennifer. "Fire Management Considerations". Pinus Banksiana Index of Species Information. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  6. ^ Hamilton, Chris. "Why and where do fires start (in the Huron National Forest)?". University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  7. ^ "Huron–Manistee National Forests - Camping & Cabins". United States Forest Service. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  8. ^ Tours, Huron–Manistee National Forest.

External links[edit]