Canoes along the Au Sable River

Canoes along the Au Sable River

Photo by National Scenic Byways, Wikimedia Commons

Michigan River Road Itinerary for a 2 day RV Holiday

Image from www.byways.orgAu Sable River Queen Image from

Day 1

Start: Eagle Run Trail System

A morning hike along the banks of the Au Sable River is a great way to begin the day. Enjoy the first blossoms of spring in the wet lowland areas, watch for bald eagles, great blue herons, and a variety of songbirds and waterfowl. If you're quiet, beaver and otter are often seen swimming along the shoreline.

Stop 1: Foote Dam Fishing Access

Directions from previous place:     Continue west on River Road four miles to Rea Road in Foote Site Village. Turn right on Rea Road and drive a quarter mile to the entrance road for Foote Dam.
Distance from Previous Site:           4.25 miles / 6.8 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:   10 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:         30 minutes

Spring beckons stealhead trout and salmon from Lake Huron to the spawning beds in the cool rivers and streams. The Au Sable River is an angler's paradise. You can watch these large fish make their way back to Lake Huron from the platforms along the dam or the DNR River Access along River Road.

Stop 2: Au Sable River Queen

Directions from previous place:     Return to River Road by following Rea Road a quarter mile south. Continue west on River Road to Foot Site Park and the docking area for the Au Sable River Queen.
Distance from Previous Site:           1 miles / 1.6 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     5 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:          2 hours 30 minutes

After a hike and watching the anglers you're probably ready to get on the water. The Au Sable River Queen offers a relaxing tour of Foote Pond without the effort of paddling yourself. Enjoy the captain's stories of colorful lumbermen and Native American lore, while appreciating the scenery and wildlife.

Stop 3: Foote Pond Overlook

Directions from previous place:     Foot Site Park and the docking area for the Au Sable River Queen, follow River Road west to the entrance of Foote Pond Overlook.
Distance from Previous Site:           3 miles / 4.8 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:      5 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:         30 minutes

This observation point is high above the Au Sable River, yielding a breathtaking view of the Au Sable River Valley with the upper stretches of Foote Pond below. Interpretive panels provide bald eagle history, identification tips, and Forest Service protection practices. This is a good area to watch the skies for this huge bird of prey. The observation deck is perched at the top of a dune known as Champagne Hill. You are welcome to climb down, but remember it is a grueling, steep climb back up.

End: Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center

Directions from previous place:     From Foote Pond Overlook, continue west on River Road approximately eight miles.
Distance from Previous Site:           8 miles / 12.8 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:   10 minutes

End your day at Lumberman's Monument Visitor Center. Climb through a log jam, roll a log with a peavey, cut a wooden cookie with a cross-cut saw, and learn about the life of a lumberjack through video and displays. Learn about the industry that helped develop northern Michigan and the men that cut the pine that helped build a nation.

Staff are available to answer questions and help plan the rest of your trip. Hike the stairway to the wanigan, or take the short trail to the dune oberservation deck. Watch for delicate spring flowers that grow on these dry sand plains, and bright indigo buntings and scarlett tanagers that nest in this area.

When you've had your fill of all that Lumberman's Monument has to offer, put down stakes for the night at the adjacent campground.

Totals for Day 1

Total Distance Traveled:     16.25 miles / 26.0 km
Total Travel Time:                 30 minutes
Total Stopping Time:              3 hours 30 minutes

Day 2

Navigation: Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area

Directions from previous place:     From Lumberman's Monument, take River Road east nine miles to Wells Road. Turn right on Wells Road, travel south three miles to Old US-23. Turn left on Old US-23, travel two miles to Tuttle Marsh Rd (FR 4548). Take Tuttle Marsh Road through the center of the marsh area.
Distance from Previous Site:          12 miles / 19.2 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     20 minutes

Begin day two with a morning excursion to Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area. Spring is an optimum time to visit this wetland habitat. Migratory waterfowl, song birds, and raptors pass through this area on their way north. It is also a prime nesting location for local species such as bittern, great blue heron, osprey, Canada geese, and many species of ducks and songbirds. Beaver and muskrat are often spotted in the smaller ponds and white-tail deer feed on lush spring grasses along the roadside.

Stop 1: Iargo Springs Interpretive Site

Directions from previous place:     Tuttle Marsh Road ends on Davison Road. Turn right on Davison Road one and a half miles to Sherman Road. Turn right on Sherman Road two miles to Brooks Road. Take Brooks Road north three miles to Well Road. Travel Wells Road three miles back to River Road. Continue west on River Road 11 miles to the entrance on your right. A large sign identifies the site and you will see the paved parking area.
Distance from Previous Site:           11 miles / 17.6 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:     20 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site:             1 hour 30 minutes

Even if you only take in the view from the overlook, this stop is still worth the driving time! The birds-eye-view of the river and landscape is breathtaking. But if you are willing to brave the 300 steps that lead down to the spring area, you will discover beauties well worth the effort of climbing back up. Look for unique wildflowers that prefer wetland ecosystems such as jack-in-the-pulpit and skunk cabbage under the cool canopy of large trees. You'll have a good chance to spot birds and animals that prefer an old growth habitat. The beauty of the springs isn't duplicated any where else in the region!

End: Canoeing and Kayaking on the Au Sable

Directions from previous place:     From Iargo Springs, travel west on River Road to the junction with M-65. Travel south on M-65 4.5 miles to Rollways Road. You will see the sign for the canoe livery on your right.
Distance from Previous Site:             5.5 miles / 8.8 km
Travel Time from Previous Site:      10 minutes

What better way to end a perfect day than to get out and paddle the river. You may want to confer with the staff at Lumberman's Monument the day before to aid in choosing a livery and trip that fits your expectations and experience level. What we will recommend here will get you to the upper stretches of Loud Pond, a portion of the river not yet encountered in this itinerary. The livery on Rollways Road will provide shuttle service along with rental. You should contact the livery the day before to reserve your shuttle time. Spring is a perfect time of year to paddle this stretch, avoiding the higher use summer season. Enjoy the unspoiled shoreline, the quiet solitude, and the clean fresh smells of spring. Around every bend are opportunities to spot wildlife in their natural environment. End your trip at Rollways Picnic Area located across from the canoe livery with a picnic dinner!

Totals for Day 2

Total Distance Traveled:     28.5 miles / 45.6 km
Total Travel Time:                 50 minutes
Total Stopping Time:            1 hour 30 minutes

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