Iargo Springs features several viewing decks and a boardwalk path through the natural springs.
Natural springs are formed from water that naturally flows to surface from underground. The natural springs can be accessed from the road by stairs leading down to the Au Sable River. Man-made barriers pool the springs and create small waterfalls. The wooden boardwalk stretches over 1,000 feet (300 m) as it winds through the natural springs.
Lying off of River Road National Scenic Byway, Iargo Springs provides a panoramic view of the Au Sable River. Used as a drinking water source since pre-settlement times, dams were constructed on the springs by early loggers before the turn of the century. The dams were useful in diverting water to the logging camps nearby. Most of Cooke Pond was dry land then.
Europeans have visited the springs for recreation since the 1920s. A trail to the springs was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corpsin 1934. Early photographs show the dam being repaired and reinforced by the CCC's. The dams lasted until 1981 when a storm took them out. The site was renovated in 1991. Steps were added and boardwalks along the springs, as well as the dams being rebuilt.
Native Americans believe this place to be special. No, magical.
The anticipation of what might be found when venturing into the unknown has always been at the center of human exploration. An impromptu visit to Iargo Springs located on the River Road Scenic Byway made that notion all the more valid.
304 steps guide your way down along a winding wooden staircase to reach an elevated boardwalk that snakes its way to various outlooks over Cooke Pond.
There is an ancient energy roaming this forest that is hard to describe but impossible to dismiss once you start wandering amongst the towering cedar, pines, maple and hemlock. It’s an extraordinary hinterland of serenity that easily lends itself to instances of reflection and awe.
Low level log dams turn multiple springs into glimmering water falls that then gently flow into these backwaters of the AuSable River. Deep browns, cascaded by bright greens and yellows, and the fervent rustling of a chipmunk just a few feet away all remind you that this place is very much alive and well.
For the avid hiker, the Highbanks Trail has a trailhead here which if you follow it, would take you directly east, past Lumberman’s Monument; another worthy attraction to the Oscoda area. Although the Springs open year round, the trails are not groomed during the winter months and camping along the way is only allowed in designated areas. Also, the use of motorized vehicles is prohibited on the trail.
Interpretive signs help to teach visitors more about the site and its rich but often troubled history as well as explaining the formation and significance of the transition forest.
Amenities are few but then again, few are needed if the natural virgin beauty of the Springs is to remain in tact. Restrooms are available and admission is free of charge.
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