Ottawa National Forest
A vast wilderness awaits explorers
Just across the Michigan border from Land O’ Lakes, you’ll find a beautiful forest that seems to have no end. While there’s technically an end to the Ottawa National Forest, you won’t find it until you reach the dramatic, rocky shore of Lake Superior, far to the north. The Ottawa National Forest is a nearly million-acre tract that has long lured people who love wild places. Hiking here is like swimming in an ocean; you’re limited only by your own aspiration for adventure. Everything is big here; the forest has more than 500 lakes, nearly 2,000 miles of streams and rivers and numerous waterfalls. The forest is dense but there are hilltop breaks between the trees where you can see for miles. You might spot a bald eagle or two circling above, working the ridge lifts. What you won’t see is land that’s changed by development. The forest is home to natural wonders like the old-growth stands in the Sylvania Wilderness Area and the roaring waters of the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness. Backcountry hiking, skiing and snowshoeing opportunities are nearly endless, as is the snow. Parts of the forest receive almost 200 inches of snow in a typical winter. You can get detailed information about the forest at the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center, located at the intersection of Highways 45 and 2 in Watersmeet. The center features exhibits, displays and interpretive programs about the forest. To get to the center from Land O’ Lakes, travel north about 8 miles. It’s the perfect start to your exploration of this vast and beautiful place.
Summer: Mid May-end of September, Monday-Sunday, 9am-5pm; open until 8:30pm Thursdays
Winter: October 1-Mid May, Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm
Address: E23979 U.S. Highway 2 East, Watersmeet, MI 49969