Michigan might be home to the Great Lakes, but 20 of their 36 million acre land is forested, making this mitten-shaped state one of the most forested states in the country. Likewise, Michigan has millions of acres of National Forests and State Lands just waiting to be explored and we’re giving you the lowdown.
While 60 percent of Michigan’s forest land is owned by private individuals, 40 percent is either publicly owned or open for public use. That leaves 8 million acres of forested land available for the communities and tourists to hunt, fish, hike, bike, and explore.
It doesn’t stop there. Michigan is also home to 3 national forests, 3 national parks, 2 large national wildlife refuges, and 2 million acres of private forest land open to hunting and fishing under the DNR-administered Commercial Forest program. Also home to over 11,000 inland lakes, 100 state parks, 17 state-operated harbors, and 133 state forest campgrounds, as well as thousands of miles of motorized and non-motorized trails.
The largest state park in Michigan is the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (aka “The Porkies”), which is 60,000 acres of gorgeous terrain in the western Upper Peninsula offering waterfalls, stunning views, and a variety of lodging options. If you are driving up from downstate Michigan, then getting to the Porkies makes a great vacation spot, with state parks offering some of Michigan’s most memorable sights along the way.
Hiawatha National Forest
The Hiawatha National Forest is an 894,836-acre National Forest in the Upper Peninsula. Divided into two subunits -- Eastside (44%) and Westside (56%), it offers commercial lodging and camping, trails, 6 wilderness areas, 5 National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and over 100 miles of shoreline on both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
Huron-Manistee National Forests
The Huron-Manistee Forests cover a total of 978,906 acres and boasts thousands of lakes and miles of rivers and streams. 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%.
While the Huron National Forest portion is in northeast lower Michigan, the Manistee National Forest portion is located in northwest lower Michigan. It has varying but largely sandy terrain covered with trees. The area is popular for fishing, camping, boating, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and hunting, and the North Country Trail passes through it.
Ottawa National Forest
The Ottawa National Forest is a national forest that covers nearly 100,000 acres on the west side of the Upper Peninsula. Established in 1931, the Ottawa National Forest offers 3 designation wilderness areas, trails, rivers, and shorelines commonly used for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, as well as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months.
Because of its unique shape and the surrounding Great Lakes, people often forget how beautiful the land in Michigan is and how much it has to offer. So what are you waiting for? Go explore these incredible lands! Share your adventures with us on social media using #piketopeak.