Ottawa National Forest extends from Lake Superior’s southern shore to Wisconsin across nearly 1 million acres. This forest in the western part of Michigan's upper peninsula contains over 18 waterfalls and over 2,100 miles of off-road trails. You can find great places to go hiking, and some people come to this location to go snowshoeing. This forest near Ironton contains over 500 named lakes and 2,000 miles of rivers and streams, which makes it a popular destination for anglers. Its northern location makes it a favorite spot for ice fishing.
Park in the Gorge Fall parking lot off of the National Black River Scenic Byway to start this hike. Follow the paved double loop to observe Gorge Fall from several different angles. There are observation platforms where you can rest and watch the falls.
Length: 0.25 Miles
The trailhead for this trail is about one mile west of the intersection of Forest Service Road 2010 and U.S. Highway 2. This trail runs through aspen, hardwood, and conifer stands. It is near the Cooks Run Stream, so bring along your fishing equipment. Hunters often use this trail during hunting season.
Length: 7 Miles
Find this trailhead about 0.25 miles east of Sinnaw along Highway M28. You will love hiking through the northern hardwood forest to see Sturgeon Falls.
Length: 0.5 Miles
Deer Marsh Interpretative Trail This trail begins slightly east of the intersection of FR 2125 and Sidnaw South Road. As you hike across the sandy, gently rolling ground, read the interpretative signs placed along the trail to learn more about the forest. This trail leads through pine and northern hardwood forests until you reach a puncheon bridge above a beaver’s dam.
Length: 3 Miles
O Kun De Kun Trail starts near Bruce Crossing off U.S. 45. It runs through aspen and mixed hardwoods, and you can see several waterfalls. Watch for frogs! This trail also is a great place to see a beautiful bridge across a creek, which can make a great family photo setting. The area where it ascends can get slippery when damp, but you will be rewarded with incredible views of the O Kun De Kun Waterfall.
Length: 1 Mile
Generally, spring is the best time to go lake fishing in Ottawa National Forest. There are over 500 named lakes and numerous smaller ponds in this forest, so anglers have many different options. Some of the best fishing for trout and walleye are the three lakes in the Lake Ottawa Recreation Area. There are more than 2,000 miles of streams in this forest. Consider fishing for brown trout and steelhead trout in the Sturgeon River.
There are three EarthCaches in the Ottawa National Forest. One is found in the visitor center, and one at a nearby location is accessible when the visitor center is closed. Each of these two EarthCaches is designed to indicate where a raindrop falling at Ottawa National Forest could eventually end and they tell more about the three possible watersheds. The third EarthCache is located at N46 degrees 16.486 minutes and W89 degrees 10.576 minutes.
A variety of birds, including bald eagles, loons, and ospreys, can be seen in Ottawa National Forest, especially in the Sylvian Wilderness area. The forest is home to whitetail deer, black bears, gray wolves, and coyotes. Many visitors find wildlife along the Deer Marsh Interpretative Trail, which is near Lake Ste. Kathryn Campground.
There are numerous places to go stargazing. Consider heading to one of the beaches because there will be a break in the thick forest, allowing you to see the sky. You can find beaches at Black River Harbor, Lake Ottawa, Bob Lake, Bobcat Lake, Courtney Lake, Hagermen Lake, Imp Lake, Marion Lake, Norway Lake, Clark Lake, and Teepee Lake.
Address: Ottawa National Forest Headquarters, E6248 US 2, Ironwood, Michigan 49938
Fee: Entry Fee (per person) There is no entry fee.
Ottawa National Forest is a beautiful place to visit. You can go on hikes to see wilderness and wildlife, including a variety of species of birds. It is also a fantastic place to go fishing in the many lakes and streams. Trout fishing is a popular hobby in this forest throughout the year. This forest’s remote location also makes it a terrific place to go stargazing, especially from its numerous beaches. Since you will want to move around in the forest and visit other nearby attractions, bring your RV. If you do not have one, then rent one on RVshare.com.