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Michigan State Parks

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USA Parks
Northeast Region
Alpena State Forest
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Picnic Table ©
It is always a great day for a picnic in the park.
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The Alpena State Forest is a captivating blend of natural beauty and rich biodiversity, beckoning nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Located in the northeastern region of Michigan's lower peninsula, this expansive forest encompasses over 84,000 acres of diverse terrain and landscapes. A tapestry of towering hardwoods, lush coniferous forests, shimmering lakes, and meandering rivers defines the forest's picturesque scenery. Visitors can embark on an array of recreational activities such as hiking, biking, camping, and fishing, while wildlife enthusiasts can revel in the opportunity to spot white-tailed deer, black bears, bald eagles, and a multitude of bird species. With its tranquil ambiance and abundant natural resources, the Alpena State Forest epitomizes Michigan's serene and unspoiled wilderness.
History of the Area
The Alpena State Forest is located in the northeastern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Its history can be traced back to the early 20th century when the area was heavily logged for its valuable timber resources.

In the late 1800s, Michigan experienced a logging boom, and vast forests were harvested to meet the growing demand for timber. Alpena County, where the forest is located, was no exception. Large-scale logging operations decimated the once-thriving forests, leaving behind barren landscapes and degraded natural resources.

Recognizing the need to restore and protect the depleted forests, the Michigan State Legislature established the Michigan State Forest Reserve System in 1903. This system aimed to acquire and manage land for reforestation, wildlife habitat conservation, and the sustainable production of timber.

The Alpena State Forest was officially established in 1922 on approximately 30,000 acres of land. The state government purchased the land from several lumber companies that had exhausted most of the timber resources. The intention was to reclaim and restore the area through reforestation efforts.

During the early years, the Alpena State Forest was primarily used for timber production, with conifer plantations being established to replace the harvested trees. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played a significant role in reforestation and other conservation efforts during the Great Depression. CCC workers worked to plant trees, construct fire lanes, build roads, and improve infrastructure within the forest.

Over time, the management focus of the Alpena State Forest shifted from a strictly timber-centric approach to a more balanced approach, considering multiple uses, including recreation, wildlife habitat, and sustainable forestry practices. Today, the forest is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and continues to play a vital role in supporting the local economy, providing recreational opportunities, and conserving natural resources.

The Alpena State Forest now covers approximately 87,000 acres, encompassing diverse ecosystems like forests, wetlands, streams, and lakes. It offers various recreational activities such as hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Additionally, sustainable timber harvesting continues to be an essential component of the forest management strategy to support the local forest products industry and maintain the environmental health of the area.
The Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forest campgrounds and state trail parking lots. Details and information on how to obtain your Michigan Recreation Passport can be found by visiting the MICHIGAN RECREATION PASSPORT web page.
1. Clear Lake State Park: This park is located within the Alpena state forest and offers 200 campsites, a beach area for swimming, fishing opportunities in Clear lake.

2. Ossineke State Forest Campground: Located near the shores of Lake Huron, this campground has rustic camping sites with fire rings and picnic tables available at each site.

3. Beaver Lake County Park & Campgrounds: Offers both tent and RV camping options along with amenities like restrooms/showers facilities, playgrounds etc.,.

4. Long Rapids Township Tourist Park: It's a small campsite that provides basic amenities including water access to Thunder Bay River where you can enjoy activities such as boating or kayaking.

5. Fletcher Pond Rustic Camping Area: A great spot if you're looking for more secluded experience without many modern conveniences but still want easy access to outdoor recreational activities on Fletcher pond.

6. Alcona Canoe Rental & Campground: Provides canoe rental services alongside their well-maintained campsites which are equipped with electricity hookups,fire pits,and shower/restroom facilities.

7. Hillman Rustic State Forest: With only six spots it's one of smaller ones,but its location right next to Hillman's famous "Brush Creek Mill" makes up for size limitation.

8. Negwegon Backcountry Camping Sites: For those who prefer back country style,this place allows dispersed primitive camping throughout designated areas inside Negwegon state park territory.
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1. Norway Ridge Pathway: This 7-mile trail is perfect for a day hike, offering stunning views of the surrounding forest and wildlife sightings. The pathway includes several loops that allow hikers to choose their own distance.

2. Chippewa Hills Pathway: A moderate difficulty level hiking path stretching over 21 miles in total with four different loop options ranging from three to seven miles each.

3. Ossineke State Forest Campground Trail: An easy-to-moderate two-mile long trail ideal for families or beginner hikers featuring beautiful wildflowers during springtime and vibrant foliage in autumn months.

4. Beaver Lake Loop Trail: Approximately five miles long, this scenic route offers panoramic lake views along its course as well as opportunities for bird watching due to diverse avian species inhabiting nearby wetlands areas.

5. Posen Buck Pole Nature Preserve Trails: These trails offer an immersive experience into Michigan's natural beauty across various terrains including forests, meadows and marshes spread out on multiple short paths totaling about six kilometers overall length.

6. Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary Boardwalks: While not technically "trails," these boardwalk routes provide unique perspectives onto local flora & fauna within sanctuary boundaries; they are wheelchair accessible too making them suitable even those with mobility issues can enjoy nature here without any hindrance whatsoever!

7. Island Park & Wildlife Sanctuary Paths: Another set of shorter walking tracks located right inside city limits providing quick access points towards serene landscapes amidst bustling urban life around it all year round!

8. Thunder Bay River State Forest Area Hiking Routes: Numerous unmarked pathways crisscrossing through dense woods alongside river banks where one might spot deer grazing peacefully under towering trees if lucky enough while wandering aimlessly amongst wilderness untouched by human interference so far!

9. Bagley Street Bridge To Sytek Park Riverside Walk: It's more like leisurely stroll rather than strenuous hike, but still worth mentioning due to its close proximity with downtown Alpena and beautiful river views it offers along the way.

10. Besser Natural Area Trails: Located near Lake Huron's shoreline, these trails offer a mix of sandy beaches, dunes and forested areas for hikers to explore.

11. Thompson's Harbor State Park Hiking Paths: This park features over six miles of hiking paths that wind through diverse ecosystems including sand dunes, wetlands and hardwood forests; also provides access points towards secluded beach spots perfect for picnics or just relaxing by water side after long walk amidst nature!

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Area Campgrounds
Alcona Canoe Rental & Campground
6351 Bamfield Road
Glennie, MI
Oscoda KOA Family Resort Kampground
3591 Forest Road
Oscoda, MI

1. Start by heading north on US:23 if you are coming from Saginaw or south on US-23 if you are traveling from Rogers City.
2. Continue driving until you reach the city of Alpena.
3. In Alpena, take a left turn onto M:32 West/West Chisholm Street and continue following this road for approximately 6 miles.
4. Look for signs indicating the entrance to the state forest area and make a right turn onto Long Rapids Road (County Rd 638).
5. Drive along Long Rapids Road for about 7 miles until you see another sign directing you to enter into one of several access points within the forest.

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Michigan State Parks