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Michigan DNR > wildlife viewing guide > northern lower peninsula > hartwick

59 Hartwick Pines State Park Northern Lower Peninsula

wildlife viewing  |  directions and facility information


 Weary Legs Trail  Glory Lake  Wildlfie View from center 
Photos: Craig Kasmer, MI DNR

Forest Visitor CenterThe visitor center at Hartwick Pines State Park surrounds visitors with the fascinating history of Michigan's forests and lumbering era. Walk through a stand of virgin white pine trees just behind the visitor center.
Photo: ©Phil T. Seng

Hartwick Pines State Park is the largest state park in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula. Fittingly, it also contains the largest stand of virgin white pines remaining in the lower peninsula. Visitors can relax in the Michigan Forest Visitor Center and learn more about Michigan's forests in an exhibit hall that focuses on the history of logging, forestry, and the numerous ways we utilize trees in our daily lives. It also is the main interpretive center for the 3.9 million acre state forest system managed by the DNR—the largest state forest system in the United States. Visitors are also invited to experience the Logging Museum buildings, where you are taken back in time to life in a 1880s logging camp and explore the history of the white pine logging era, when most of Michigan's northern lower peninsula was covered with the huge, majestic trees that still can be seen here.  In addition to the virgin pines, the park has a good mixture of other forest types that typically grow on the sandy soils found in this part of Michigan. These habitats include northern hardwood forests (beech and maple), jack pine and oak forests, and lowland conifer forests (cedar, spruce and tamarack). Several small lakes, the East Branch of the Au Sable River and its associated streams and wetlands further add to the diversity that makes this park very attractive to wildlife.

Wildlife Viewing


woods
Photo: Craig Kasmer, MI DNR

A 50-acre stand of virgin pine trees is one of the premier attractions of this site. These trees were saved from the lumberman's axe. Stroll the Old Growth Forest Foot Trail and let your mind imagine how much of northern Michigan must have looked when these forest monarchs stretched from shore to shore. Because of its age, this vestige of virgin pines is gradually dying, and some are dead. These dead trees are not totally dead, however, since they continue to provide habitat for woodpeckers, chipmunks, woodland mice, bats, salamanders, dozens of insects, and other smaller life forms that thrive on dead or dying trees. Watch for the hairy and downy woodpeckers, the red and white breasted nuthatches, the northern flicker, even the crow-sized pileated woodpecker foraging for insects in the dead snags or downed trees along the trails.


Evening Grosbeak feeding
Photo: Craig Kasmer, MI DNR

Throughout the spring and into the summer, you cannot walk more than a few feet along the trail without hearing the resident solitary vireo, blackburnian warbler, or black-throated green warbler. Also, watch and listen for the melodic trill of the pine warbler, and the raspy, robin-like call of the scarlet tanager — all popular species of these northern mature pine habitats. Red and black squirrels are very common in the park, and can be seen from dawn to dusk. Black squirrels are actually just a dark color phase of the gray squirrel that is common throughout the eastern United States. Larger mammals like white-tailed deer, bobcats, coyotes, and black bear are also found here. Stop at the visitor center for more information and maps, and ask about these and the other wildlife viewing opportunities available in this special state park.

Portions of this area are open to public hunting
. Contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for affected seasons and locations.

 

MapDirections

From Grayling, drive north on I-75 to Exit 259. Head northbound on M-93 and proceed about 2 miles and look for the park entrance sign on the left side of the road.

Ownership
: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Hartwick Pines State Park headquarters, (989) 348-7068.

Size
: 9,672 acres

Closest Town
: Grayling

Weather and Driving Directions for Grayling

Plan Your Trip with travel.michigan.org!

 

Facilities and Opportunities

RestroomsTrailsPicnicVisitor CenterCross-country SkiingBoat RampDrinking WaterFishingHuntingEntry Fee

Restrooms — located at the Michigan Forest Visitor Center, the campgrounds, the day use/picnic area, and at the Logging Museum.
Hiking Trails — Four self-guided interpretive trails totaling 7 miles, 1/4 to 3 ½ miles in length.
Cross Country Skiing — Three trails totaling 15 ½ miles, easy to moderate in difficulty. Also open to mountain biking.
Picnic — at the day use area; bathroom facilities, picnic tables, playground, grills.
Camping - modern campground, 100 campsites, plus an organizational campground.
Visitor Center — Michigan Forest Visitor Center and Logging Museum.
Boat Ramp — at Bright and Glory Lakes.
Drinking Water — at campground and visitor center and Logging Museum.
Barrier Free — campground restrooms and bathrooms, visitor center.
Fishing — Bright and Glory Lakes; floating fishing docks; blue gill, panfish, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout.
Hunting — portions of park are open to small and big game hunting, inquire at the visitor center for open hunting zones.
Entry Fee - Michigan State Park Motor Vehicle Permit required for entry.

Additional Information:
Hartwick Pines State Park

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