Description - Established in 1931, the Sault Ste. Marie Ranger District encompasses 244,000 acres offering visitors unlimited possibilities to experience the outdoors. Edging the sandy and rocky agate shores of Lake Superior in what is affectionately called the Whitefish Bay Area, it is studded with majestic northern hardwoods, conifers and wetlands, while bordered by the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Fall color along a Hiawatha National Forest highway
American Indians inhabited the region for centuries creating an everlasting effect. Bay Mills Indian Mission, once called "Shawville," was one of the main early Indian settlements west of Sault Ste. Marie. Today, visitors enjoy the village of Bay Mills, a reminder of the 19th century white pine lumbering days. The Spectacle Lake Overlook not only memorializes a couple devoted to mankind but a couple that embraced the natural beauty and powers of their native surroundings. Iroquois Point Lighthouse, which includes a much greater geographic area than the immediate site of the light station, was named for the Iroquois warriors massacred there by the Ojibway in 1662.
Ocean freighters ply along the Great Lake entering St. Mary's River, famed for over a hundred years as the access between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. The natural beauty of the forested rolling countryside, the massive body of water with its agate stone shores, flowing tributaries, and crystallized winter scenery enhance the manmade destinations that include Pendills Creek Fish Hatchery, which provides trout to all the Great Lakes; the Big Pine Picnic Area, one the most scenic rest stops along in Sault Ste. Marie shore; and historic sights that include sunken relics offshore from the mouth of Grants Creek.
The 11,870-acre Delirium Wilderness is located in the District featuring landscape that was formed from old glacial lakes. The terrain is flat to rolling with elevations ranging from 590-890 feet. Two water bodies are found in the area, the 80-acre Sylvester Pond and the 6-acre Delirium Pond. The overall character of the land can be described as swamp. Predominant wildlife includes black bear, bobcat, otter, beaver, and the stately sandhill cranes, and a flurry of waterfowl and reptiles.
- Reigning in natural beauty, the Sault Ste. Marie Ranger District has a wide range of outdoor recreations to satisfy all tastes. There are four national forest campgrounds that accommodate trailers up to 55 feet, but do not offer electric or showers. Many who prefer the warm inland lakes to the cold Lake Superior enjoy swimming at these campgrounds. Swimming is at your own risk.
In addition the most notable fishing destination, Lake Superior, the Sault Ste. Marie Ranger District embraces many lakes and rushing streams that provide a wide spectrum of fishing opportunities.
One of the most enjoyable driving tours in the District is the route along Lake Shore Drive between Brimley and Tahquamenon, which incidentally each host a state park. Along this drive, visitors can enjoy a popular, scenic picnic spot Big Pine Picnic Area. Spectacle Overlook is a stopover for anyone wishing to take a piece of the Upper Peninsula home. Photo opportunities provide sights into the green conifers of Canada and the bustling city of Sault Ste. Marie, not to mention the plaque commemorating two individuals whose lives influenced many. The Point Iroquois Lighthouse is a step back in time and memory, affording a museum with photographs from the 1950s when the lighthouse housed families. Inland, drivers can experience the same, a step back in time and memory. The CCC Self Guided Auto Tour follows a trail that highlights the famed restoration from the Great Depression.
The McNearney Ski Trail, located 5 miles northeast of Strongs Corner, offers a winter journey for cross-country skiers of all skill level. The Raco-Paradise Snowmobile Trail is another way to experience the winter wonderland of the Upper Peninsula.
Hiking trails range from short unmarked excursions down the rocky shores of Lake Superior to The North Country Trail, a seven-state trail that has 42 miles traversing the District linking to the St. Ignace Ranger District.
Lastly, one cannot mention this Ranger District without mentioning the fabulous fresh and smoked fish available from numerous small eateries and markets found throughout the area.
Recreation - Sault Ste Marie Ranger District welcomes camping, picnicking, sightseeing, viewing historical sites, Great Lake fishing, inland lake and stream fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, nature study, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and dining at some of the best fish restaurants available in the Upper Peninsula.
Climate - This area of the national forest normally experiences mild summers with average temperatures around 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). Winter temperatures average 14 - 18 degrees F (-10 to -8 degrees C). Yearly rain and snowmelt in the region averages 28 - 36 inches but can be dramatically altered by the "lake effect," thus depositing significant amounts of snow within a short period of time causing hazardous road conditions.
The Sault Ste Marie Ranger District expands across the northeastern Upper Peninsula along the shores of Lake Superior. Major access roads include Interstate 75 and State Routes 28, H63, and H40.