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Forest Areas: Michigan

Quick Facts

Big Island Lake Wilderness

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Brevoort Lake
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Brevoort Lake
The United States Congress designated the Big Island Lake Wilderness Area in 1987 and it now has a total of 5,856 acres. As you might expect, in the middle of Big Island Lake, standing amid placid waters, is a big island. Twenty-two additional lakes, ranging in size from 5 to 149 acres and joined by short, marked portages, make this Wilderness an excellent waterway for canoeists. The 54 clear-water acres of Twilight Lake are managed for trout. Fishing is popular, but special regulations limit the types of lures you can use and the size of the fish you can keep. Ducks, loons, and great blue herons are often seen feeding on or near the water, and bald eagles are occasional visitors. Sandhill cranes frequent the open upland in the area's northern section. Logged off between 1890 and the early 1930s, the region has many old stumps scattered among second-growth hardwoods (maple, white birch, beech, and quaking aspen) in the uplands, and hemlock, spruce, and balsam in the low wetlands along streams and bogs. Long-abandoned logging campsites are still evident. Woodland animals include black bears, pine martens, bobcats, raccoons, porcupines, and chipmunks. Although the terrain rolls easily, there are no trails within the forest, and hikers may find the going a challenge.

Overnight camping at designated sites is allowed in Big Island Lake Wilderness (BULW). Currently, there are no permits required for camping or day use in BILW. Regulations prohibit camping at sites posted closed. Random camping is prohibited within 200 feet of any lakeshore or designated site and / or within 100 feet of any trail or portage. Regulations also prohibit groups larger than 10 from traveling or congregating as one. Also, groups larger than 6 may not occupy one individual site. The Forest Service recommends that you contact the Munising Ranger District for updated information before planning any overnight trips into BILW. A designated campsite consists of a site post, metal fire ring and rustic pit latrine. Please keep all tents and equipment within 15 feet of the campsite post. Campfires are prohibited except in Forest Service provided metal fire rings located at designated sites. Keep fires small and use only downed vegetation. Be sure to put your fire dead out. BILW day use opportunities include off-trail hiking and fishing. Strong orienteering skills are recommended. Several portage trails lead into Wilderness lakes where fishing opportunities exist. A valid Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) fishing license is required for fishing in BILW. Mechanized equipment, bikes, motors, carts, trailers, portage wheels or other wheeled devices are not allowed in the Wilderness. Use of horses and packstock is prohibited. Wilderness visitors should follow the "carry-in, carry-out" method of handling trash. Glass food and beverage containers, returnable beverage containers, are prohibited. Bury food waste at least 6 inches deep, at least 100 yards from any campsite. Fish entrails can be disposed of in a similar manner. By keeping food smells away from campsites, you help reduce the threat of unwanted attention from rodents, bears and other animals. Human waste should be deposited in latrines or, in the absence of a latrine, it should be buried using the cat-hole method. Use a small backpacker's trowel to dig a small, 6" hole, and to cover waste and toilet paper. The method eliminates unsightly and unsanitary conditions sometimes found around campsites. The use of soaps and / or detergents in lakes or streams is prohibited.

A map of BILW is available for purchase by sending $5.00 plus $2.50 shipping & handling per map to: Munising Ranger District, 400 East Munising Avenue, Munising, MI 49862. Maps may also be purchased at the Munising, Manistique and Rapid River Ranger Districts.

Directions from Steuben, MI: The Big Island Lake Wilderness lies about a half mile northwest of the community of Steuben, which is 22 miles northwest of Manistique and about 18 miles southeast of Munising. It is bounded on the south by CR 437 and on the west by CR 445. The remaining border is delineated by FR 2303 on the northeast and an abandoned railroad grade (Haywire Grade - FR 8109) on the southeast.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Year-round .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Permits not required.
ICON Fishing Twenty-three lakes.
ICON Forest Areas Big Island Lake Wilderness
ICON Bird Identification Ducks, loons, great blue herons, bald eagles, sandhill cranes.
ICON Viewing Wildlife Black bears, pine martens, bobcats.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Travel Michigan, MI Economic Development Corporation, 4225 Miller Road, Ste. 4 , Flint, MI, 48507-9821, Phone: 888-784-7328

Michigan Travel Bureau, P.O. Box 30266 , Lansing, MI, 48909, Phone: 517-373-0670


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