Hannahville Learn and Serve

Big Island Lake Wilderness



Search this site powered by FreeFind

Viewing of some maps requires Adobe Acrobat. Download a free copy of it here.
If you can contribute to the knowledge of these trails please contact Rod at rlovell@hicys.org

Hannahville Learn and Serve Home Page
Michigan Trails
Hannahville Learn and Serve Project History
Trail maps of Michigan
Trail conditions of Michigan
See the work on Hannahville Learn and Serve volunteers!
About the Hannahville Learn and Serve Program
Contact the Hannahville Learn and Serve Program
Recreation Links Navigation
Farmers Markets
Golf Courses CNCS Corporation for National & Community Service

Big Island Lake Wilderness Trail

Kayak Big Island Wilderness

Big Island Lake Wilderness, part of the Munising Ranger District of the Hiawatha National Forest, lies about one-half mile northwest of the community of Stueben - 22 miles northwest of the city of Manistique and about 18 miles southeast of the city of Munising. This wilderness contains 23 small lakes ranging in size from 5 to 149 acres. Some of the lakes are connected by maintained portages while some of the lakes are remote, making access more challenging. Big Island Lake Wilderness is bounded on the south by County Road 437 and on the west by County Road 445. The remaining border is delineated by Forest Road 2303 on the northeast and an abandoned railroad grade (Haywire Grade - Forest Road 8109) on the south side.

Wilderness Courtesy

Solitude and non-disruptive enjoyment of the natural setting are essential to the Wilderness experience. You can help preserve the Wilderness quality by practicing "Leave No Trace " camping. Here are some good practices to follow:

  • Plan ahead to avoid crowded dates and places.
  • Avoid trampling vegetation.
  • Keep pets under control at all times - if you must bring them.
  • Never pick or collect wildflowers, plant specimens, rocks, pine cones, etc.
  • Allow sufficient space between camps.
  • Leave audio devices and boisterous conduct home.
  • Do not blaze trees or build rock piles to mark your route when traveling off trails. Use a compass.
  • Never bury trash. Animals will dig it up. Always bury human waste and toilet paper at least 20 feet from campsites, trails and water sources. Use a backpacker's trowel.
  • Never cut live or dead standing trees.
  • Choose equipment and clothing in earth tone colors.
  • Keep group size to 6 or fewer people. ·Pack-out what you pack-in. Thanks.

Day Use and Camping

Day use opportunities include off-trail hiking, flatwater canoeing, and fishing. There are no designated footpaths, so most hiking is cross-coutnry and requires strong orienteering skills. Several portage trails lead into Wilderness lakes where fishing and flatwater canoeing opportunities exist. Groups larger than 10 are prohibited from traveling or congregating as one.

Overnight camping at designated sites is allowed in Big Island Lake Wilderness. Currently, there are no permits required for camping or day-use in BILW.

Regulations prohibit camping at sites posted closed. Random camping is prohibited within 200ft. of any lakeshore or designated site; and/or within 100 ft. of any trail or portage.

Campfires are prohibited except in Forest Service provided metal fire rings located at designated sites. Keep fires small and use only downed vegetation. Be sure to put your fire dead out.

Mechanized equipment (including bikes, portage wheels, motors, carts, trailers, ATVs or other wheeled devices) is not allowed in Wilderness. The use of horses and pack stock is prohibited.

Wilderness visitors should follow the "pack-it-in, pack-it-out" method of handling trash. Prohibited are glass food and beverage containers including returnable beverage containers. It is not appropriate to leave or burn trash. Bury food waste at least 6 inches deep, at least 100 yards from any campsite. Fish entrails can be disposed of in a similar manner. By keeping food smells away from campsites, you help reduce the threat of unwanted attention from rodents, bears, and other animals.

Human waste should be deposited in latrines or, in the absence of a latrine; it should be buried using the "cat hole" method. Use a small backpacker's trowel to dig a small, 6" hole, and to cover waste and toilet paper. This method eliminates unsightly and unsanitary conditions sometimes found around campsites. The use of soaps and/or detergents in lakes or streams is prohibited.


Seasons of the year and weather conditions pose a continual physical challenge. Thirty-four inches of precipitation accumulates annually, with 160 inches in the form of snow. An average snow pack of 48 inches provides good conditions for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing from mid-December to mid-March.

Portage, Degree of Difficulty, Length

  • Big Island Lk to Mid Lk -- Short, easy 102'
  • Townline Lk to Mid Lk -- Short, easy 200'
  • Mid Lk to Coattail Lk -- Short, steep 424'
  • Coattail Lk to McInnes Lk -- Moderately long, easy grade 1,046'
  • McInnes Lk to Klondike Lk -- Long, gentle grade 1,233'
  • Klondike Lk to Vance Lk -- Long, gentle grade, small hill 1,799'
  • Vance Lk to Twilight Lk -- Long, gentle grade 1,490'
  • Twilight Lk rt to Byers Lk -- Moderately shoeasy grade 780'

Special Fishing Regulations

A valid Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) fishing license is required for fishing in BILW, so consult your copy of the current year's MDNR Fishing Guide or contact the MDNR for up-to-date information. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 6835 Hwy 2/41/35, Gladstone, MI 49837.

Natural Surroundings

White birch, maple and aspen cover the wooded hills that surround the lakes complex; berries, mushrooms and wildflowers grow throughout the area.

A wide range of wildlife and waterfowl, including sensitive species, may be observed--but should not be disturbed in the Big Island Lake Area.

Daytime temperatures range from 55 to 90 degrees F. between late spring and early fall. Average annual precipitation is about 30 inches; winter snowfall averages about 160 inches.

View Larger Map

Click to see the Big Island Lake Wilderness Trail Map.

Return to Schoolcraft County, Michigan Trails




Web Design by The Internet Presence, LLC
Hannahville, MI Web Design