Horseshoe Bay Wilderness

Located in the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan.

Horseshoe Bay Wilderness is located in Mackinac County, Michigan, on the north shore of Lake Huron. The area lies four miles north of St. Ignace immediately to the east of County Roads 320, H-63 and Interstate Highway I-75. The southern terminus of State Highway M-123 meets I-75 at a point outside but adjacent to Horseshoe Bay.

The Horseshoe Bay Wilderness is administered as a part of the St. Ignace Ranger District of the Hiawatha National Forest. Except for some cedar strip cutting, which occurred about 20 years ago, the area has been free from alteration by humans since the turn-of-the-century logging era. Old roadways and cut stumps are still evident. Historically, Native Americans have used the bay for fishing. Some recreation activities on the beach within the Horseshoe Bay area occur.

The area contains seven miles of Great Lakes frontage on Horseshoe and St. Martins Bays in northern Lake Huron. A sandy beach is found along the southern third of the area. The northern two-thirds vary from marshy to rocky depending on the character of the adjacent land.

Low, forested ridges within the wilderness are separated by narrow, shallow swamps. These ridges and swamps are the result of varying water levels along former lakeshores. Balsam and cedar trees grow on the ridges. Some areas may have large numbers of dead trees. The trees died as a result of defoliation during a recent spruce budworm infestation.

The marshy portion of the shore is productive habitat for waterfowl and other water-oriented wildlife. Dense cedar stands attract wintering deer. Wildlife species are primarily those associated with wetlands such as beaver, otter, mink, muskrat, various ducks, great blue heron and gulls. Eagle and osprey use large scattered white pine along the shoreline for nesting sites and feeding perches.

Whitetail deer, black bear, coyote and snowshoe hare also present in the area. Uplands north of Martineau Creek are inhabited by species such as ruffed grouse, fox and squirrel. To protect nesting species of waterfowl, visitors are encouraged to avoid intrusion into the wilderness in the spring and early summer nesting season.

The outstanding feature of the Horseshoe Bay Wilderness is the Lake Huron shoreline. Access at present is via the Horseshoe Bay trail from the Foley Creek National Forest Campground along H-63. A 2.5-mile foot trail leads northward into the area from the campground. Foot travel is difficult in the interior sections due to alternating wet and rocky terrain. The trail leads north into the area from the campground, providing foot access to the shoreline in Section 13. Horseshoe Bay Wilderness is relatively small and because of the area's proximity to I-75, noise from high-speed, heavy traffic may be head throughout most of the area.

Four parcels of privately owned land occur within the Horseshoe Bay Wilderness. Please respect private landowners' rights and do not enter their property without permission.

For more information contact: The Hiawatha National Forest

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 25 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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