Wilderness Boundary

Big Island Lake Wilderness


Big Island Lake Wilderness is located in Schoolcraft County, Michigan. It is administered as a part of the Munising Ranger District of the Hiawatha National Forest. The Big Island Lake Wilderness lies about one-half mile northwest of the community of Steuben, which is 22 miles northwest of the city of Manistique and about 18 miles southeast of the city of Munising.


The wilderness is bounded on the south by County road 437, and on the west by County Road 445. The remaining border is delineated by Forest Road 2303 on the northeast and an abandoned railroad grade (Haywire Grade - Forest Road 8109) on the southeast side.


The area was heavily logged from the late 1890’s through the 1930’s. First pine was removed and then the hardwoods. Evidence of historical and present ~se is visible in many places. Old stumps are scattered throughout the area, and old roadbeds are :~ill noticeable. Four old logging campsites and -re homestead lie within the area, as well as seven -lies of old railroad grades. The land has been influenced by humans and continues to be, as some sounds of vehicles and other motors from the surrounding area can be heard from inside the wilderness boundaries.


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There are 23 small lakes within the area ranging in ~i:e prom 5 to 149 acres. These lakes are situated among low, rolling hills. The lakes are near enough to each other for canoe portaging, and are currently linked by marked portage trails.


Twilight Lake, a 54-acre clear water lake, is managed for trout. All area lakes are covered under special fisheries management, through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. This special regulation has been enacted because the lakes in the area are relatively sterile and are low in fish production. The regulations limit the type of lures which can be used and size of the fish caught (see the annually published Michigan Department of Resources Fishing Guide for more detailed information).


Hardwood forests cover the uplands of the area, with maple, white birch, beech and quaking aspen. Hemlock, spruce and balsam grow in the lowland areas along streams, bogs and wetlands. The many northern hardwoods display a delicate array of colors in the early spring and a brightly colored landscape during autumn. Forests of the surrounding area are the result of logging history similar to the Big Island Lake area. As such, there is little difference in the natural appearance of the wilderness as compared with the surrounding area.


Many species of wildlife are present in the various ecosystems of the wilderness. Loons, beaver, ducks, great blue herons, and occasionally bald eagles may be seen feeding in or near the lakes. Sandhill cranes may be found feeding in open upland habitat in the northern portion of the area. Woodland animals which may be present include; pine marten, bobcat, raccoon, porcupine, chipmunk and black bear.


Although the area does not have rugged terrain, a degree of challenge is present for visitors. People must make their own way through the forest, for other than the portage trails, there are no marked footpaths. Off the lakes and canoe trails, a visitor will need good orientation skills.


Seasons of the year and weather conditions pose a continual physical challenge. Thirty-four inches of precipitation accumulates annually; with 160 inches in the form of snow. An average snow pack of 48 inches provides good opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing from mid-December to mid-March.


Big Island Lake Wilderness Area Map 


Your comments and suggestions regarding the Big Island Lake Wilderness are welcome. If you would like to be involved in the planning of the wilderness, or other areas Of the Munising District of the Hiawatha National Forest, contact:



Munising Ranger District
Hiawatha National Forest
400 East Munising Avenue
Munising, MI 49862
(906) 387—2512


Wilderness is a natural land. A visitor must be prepared for and accept the wild on its own terms. Also remember that you should. “Take only pictures and leave only footprints.” 


- Wilderness - Hiawatha National Forest
The Michigan Wilderness Act of 1987 designated six area on the Hiawatha National Forest as wilderness.


- Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area
Rock River Canyon Wilderness is located in Alger County, Michigan. It is situated 25 miles east of Marquette, 15 miles west of Munising, and 4 miles northwest of State Highway M-94 at Chatham.



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