Imagining Michigan without forests is like picturing a tropical beach without sand or desert vista without its signature cactuses. Whether carpeted in trilliums in the spring, bursting with wildflowers and bramble berries in summer, painted with golden color in fall or sparkling with ice in winter – it’s easy to fall in love with our state’s forests in any season.
Michigan’s state forests, at a sprawling 4 million acres primarily located in the Upper and Northern Lower Peninsulas, are a special part of our state’s outdoor offerings. These public lands are open to all for hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing and exploring. A network of thousands of miles of state forest roads and rustic forest pathways are the gateways to these wild places.
The famed Pigeon River Country State Forest, known as "the Big Wild," is the largest block of undeveloped land in the northern Lower Peninsula at nearly 110,000 acres. This forest land forms the heart of Michigan's elk territory and offers many opportunities to dive into the outdoors, rewarding visitors with flowing trout streams, calm sinkhole lakes and scenic overlooks perfect for autumn color viewing. Visitors can also dig into our state’s conservation history at the Pigeon River Discovery Center.
From the wide expanses in state forests to the trees growing in our backyards and along city streets, Michigan’s trees provide us with clean air and water, renewable products that we use every day, habitat for wildlife of all kinds and places to play or relax. In the deep woods, you might be lucky enough to spot a majestic eagle or moose. On the forest edges, a patient watcher might see foxes, whitetail deer and colorful warblers.
Moose Cow with Calf in Marquette County
The Michigan DNR and its partners work to make sure we’ll have forests for now and for future generations by planting and harvesting trees, preventing invasive species, putting out wildfires and teaching people why responsible, sustainable forestry is critical.
How can you be a friend to the forest? Practice campfire safety, plant native trees and flowers, or adopt a favorite forest area by doing a cleanup for Earth Day or Arbor Day.
Article by: Rachel Coale, Communications Representative, Michigan DNR, Forest Resources Division.