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Michigan State Parks

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USA Parks
Upper Peninsula Region
Mackinac State Forest
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The Mackinac State Forest, located in the beautiful state of Michigan, is a sprawling natural haven encompassing approximately 1.2 million acres of diverse landscapes. This enchanting forest showcases a mesmerizing blend of towering evergreen forests, serene meadows, sparkling rivers, and picturesque lakes, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its extensive trail system, it beckons hikers, bikers, and horseback riders to explore its hidden gems and witness breathtaking views. Home to a variety of wildlife including deer, foxes, eagles, and more, the Mackinac State Forest offers ample opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. Whether indulging in scenic camping spots, fishing in the pristine lakes, or simply immersing oneself in the peaceful ambiance, one thing is certain - a visit to the Mackinac State Forest guarantees an unforgettable experience in the heart of Michigan's natural wonderland.
History of the Area
Mackinac State Forest is located in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and covers an area of approximately 1.2 million acres. The history of Mackinac State Forest is closely linked to the history of Michigan's natural resources and the development and conservation efforts carried out in the region.

In the early 19th century, the area that now constitutes the Mackinac State Forest was primarily covered by old-growth forests, predominantly consisting of hardwoods like maple, beech, and oak. These forests provided valuable lumber resources that were in high demand for construction and other purposes. As a result, logging operations rapidly expanded in the region, leading to extensive deforestation and the depletion of the valuable timber resources.

In 1849, the Michigan Legislature created a State Board of Control, responsible for the management and conservation of state-owned land. Initially, they focused on establishing forest reserves to protect valuable timberlands from overexploitation. This led to the establishment of the first forest reserve in Michigan, which encompassed the area around the Straits of Mackinac, including the Mackinac Island and surrounding land.

The state continued to acquire additional lands, and by the early 20th century, the Mackinac State Forest had expanded to include much of the northern Lower Peninsula. In 1927, Michigan Governor Fred W. Green approved legislation that further expanded the forest, making it one of the largest state forests in Michigan.

During this period, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work relief program initiated during the Great Depression, played a significant role in the development and management of the Mackinac State Forest. The CCC's primary objective was to provide employment to unemployed young men while also conducting conservation projects. In the Mackinac State Forest, the CCC constructed roads, trails, fire towers, and campgrounds, and carried out reforestation initiatives.

Mackinac State Forest remains an important natural resource, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting. The forest is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which focuses on sustainable resource management and conservation efforts to ensure the long-term viability and health of the forest ecosystem.
The Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forest campgrounds and state trail parking lots. Details and information on how to obtain your Michigan Recreation Passport can be found by visiting the MICHIGAN RECREATION PASSPORT web page.
1. Clear Lake State Park: This park is located within the Mackinac State Forest and offers 200 campsites, a swimming beach, picnic area, fishing opportunities in Clear lake.

2. Tomahawk Creek Flooding Campground: A rustic campground with basic amenities like vault toilets and drinking water from well hand pump.

3. Pickerel Lakeside Campground & Cottages: Offers full hook-up RV sites as well as tent camping options along with cottages for rent on beautiful Pickerel Lake.

4. Twin Lakes State Park Cabin Rentals: For those who prefer not to camp out under the stars but still want to enjoy nature's beauty can opt for cabin rentals at this state park which also has hiking trails nearby.

5. The Pines of Paradise Resort: Located near Whitefish Bay on Highway M:123 it provides both cabins rental option or you could pitch your own tents by their lakeshore.

6. Wilderness State Park: The Wilderness state park features over two dozen miles of shoreline where visitors are allowed to set up camp anywhere they choose.

7. Burt Lake Indian River KOA Holiday: It's an ideal place if you're looking forward towards some family fun time while camping; offering activities such mini golfing, bike renting etc.

8. Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping: With views overlooking Mackinac Bridge,this site offer variety types ranging from primitive ones without electricity upto super premium lakefront rv sites.
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Mackinac State Forest is

1. High Country Pathway: This 80-mile loop trail offers a challenging hike through the heart of Mackinac State Forest, with diverse terrain and beautiful views.

2. Shingle Mill Pathway: A popular choice for hikers, this pathway spans about 11 miles featuring scenic overlooks and opportunities to spot wildlife like deer or wild turkey.

3. Black Mountain Recreation Area Trails: These trails offer over 30 miles of hiking paths that wind around lakes, hillsides, forests offering stunning panoramic vistas at various points along the way.

4. Pigeon River Country Equestrian Trail System: Although primarily designed for horseback riding these well-maintained trails also provide excellent routes for long-distance hikes across varied landscapes including meadows and dense forest areas.

5. Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve Loop Trail: An easy-to-navigate two mile looped trail surrounding Pickerel lake providing serene water views throughout your journey in addition to bird-watching spots.

6. Tomahawk Creek Flooding's North Motorcycle Trail: While it is mainly used by off:road motorcyclists during summer months; when free from traffic it provides an adventurous route through hardwood stands & conifer swamps spanning approximately twenty-two miles.

7. Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway: It's one:of-a-kind three-mile-long path leading you towards Michigan's only publicly accessible waterfall making it perfect destination point within your trekking expedition.

8. Pine Baron Pathways: Consisting four loops ranging between five-seven kilometers each allowing trekkers choose their own difficulty level while enjoying picturesque pine plantations.

9. Jordan Valley pathways: Known as "Crown Jewel" among all other state park trials due its breathtaking river valley scenes stretching nearly nineteen miles.

10. North Central State Trial: Formerly railway line now converted into recreational trial extending sixty-two Miles connecting Gaylord-Mackinaw city ideal option those looking for long-distance hiking experience.

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1. Start by heading north on I:75 if you are coming from southern parts of Michigan or Ohio.
2. Take exit 326 toward Indian River and turn left onto M:68 W/Indian River Rd.
3. Continue driving west for about 10 miles until you reach Wolverine, where M:68 intersects with US Highway 31.
4. Turn right onto US Hwy 31 N and continue for approximately another mile before turning left to stay on US Hwy 31 N/Mackinaw Trail.
5. Follow this road as it winds through scenic landscapes for around six miles until reaching Carp Lake Township.

At this point, the forest spans across multiple areas within Emmet County; therefore, specific destinations may require additional instructions depending on your desired location within the state forest.

To access Wilderness State Park:
6a: After passing through Carp Lake Township along US Hwy 31 N/Mackinaw Trail (as mentioned above), keep following that route towards Cecil Bay Road/Wilderness Park Drive North when approaching Levering area after roughly nine more miles.
7a: Make a slight right onto Cecil Bay Road/Wilderness Park Drive North and proceed straight ahead into Wilderness State Park entrance.

For accessing other sections of Mackinac State Forest such as Pigeon Bridge Campground or Black Mountain Recreation Area:
6b: Instead of taking a detour towards Wilderness State Park at step #6a above,.
continue traveling further northward along U.S.Hwy - Route No# - till Cheboygan city limits
7b: From here take either Riggsville Exit / Kawkawlin St OR Western Ave which will lead directly to various entry points like Twin Lakes Rd., East Burt Lake Rd., etc.

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Michigan State Parks