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ENJOY AUTUMN ON
THE RIVER ROAD NATIONAL
FOREST SCENIC BYWAY
VIEW THE COLORS:
From the Road...From the Waters...From the Air...On Foot...
FROM THE ROAD...
TUTTLE MARSH WILDLIFE AREA is a 5,000 acre wetland project being managed by the U.S. Forest Service with additional funding from Ducks Unlimited, to optimize nesting potential for ducks, geese and other birds. Two osprey platforms and a blue heron rookery may be observed here. From Oscoda, take Old US-23 (AuSable Road) west 5.7 miles to Tuttle Marsh Road. Turn left (south) to the marsh.
The RIVER ROAD SCENIC BYWAY parallels the south bank of the scenic AuSable River. This 22 mile stretch of road received official designation as a National Forest Scenic Byway in 1989 and is the only road with this distinction in Michigan. Beginning three miles west of Oscoda, the River Road Scenic Byway runs west to the intersection with M-65 and then another four miles west to the Rollways area. The Byway offers panoramic views of the river, its forested banks and wooded islands. There are several "required" stops along the byway. Foote Dam, five miles west of Oscoda, is a popular spot for steelhead and salmon fishermen, and is the first of four hydroelectric dams along the Scenic Byway. Foote Pond contains 1,800 surface acres of calm water behind the dam and is home to the paddlewheel river boat.
Six mile further west, Cooke Dam Road leads north to the river and the second dam. The road winds through a tunnel of trees past numerous views of COOKE POND. Across the river are the undeveloped swamps and ridges which are home to deer, bear, beaver, fox and other wildlife along with numerous species of birds and waterfowl.
LUMBERMEN'S MONUMENT is another mile to the west at the intersection of Monument Road. Here stands a nine-foot bronze statue of three lumberjacks, honoring the areas' logging history. The Visitor Center has activities for people of all ages and an exhibit area which tells the story of River Rats and log jams. A 260 step stairway leads to Cooke Pond. The grounds are an ideal spot for a fall picnic. Photographers will want to take advantage of the panoramic views from the bluff at this location.
EAGLES' NEST OVERLOOK is just one and a half miles west of the Visitors Center at Lumbermen's Monument and has been home to a pair of bald eagles for about 10 years. A sweeping view of Cooke Pond and the river valley makes this another great spot for photographers and painters. The CANOE MONUMENT, a white stone structure, stands here in tribute to the men and women who challenge the mighty AuSable in the annual International Canoe Marathon.
Just west of the Canoe Monument, 227 steps lead from the parking area down to IARGO SPRINGS. This was considered a holy place by the area's native Chippewas who held powwows here and believed that the spring's water held curative powers. Even today, a visit to the springs is a mystical experience. For those who wish to explore beyond the major springs, boots are a must.
If you have extra time, consider traveling north to the AUSABLE RIVER VISTA. This unmatched vista can be found by traveling north on M-65 and turning west on F-30 in Glennie. Go three miles to AuSable Road and turn right. The vista is about four miles north on AuSable Road. A National Forest Scenic Overview, this vista offers a spectacular view of a 20-mile stretch of the AuSable River Valley and Alcona Pond. It is also a stop on the Jack Pine Wildlife Viewing Tour.
A scenic return to Oscoda will take you along the north side of the river on Bissonette Road and Rea Road which has several scenic turnouts along the way back into town.
FROM THE WATER...
Take a look at the spectacular autumn colors from the water! Fall is a great time for a canoe trip along the mighty AuSable River. Flowing two to five miles an hour, a river trip affords a uniquely intimate view of the north country's wild beauty. If you don't have a canoe, you can rent one from area liveries.
A more sociable time can be had aboard the paddlewheel boat docked on the River Road National Scenic Byway, six miles west of Oscoda. The two-hour trips focus on Indian lore, wildlife and the lumbering history of the area.
FROM THE AIR...
Special rates are available for a half hour sightseeing tour in a Cessna 150 or a Cherokee 140. Get a bird's eye view of the autumn colors, the AuSable River, Lake Huron and the inland lakes, and the former Wurtsmith Air Base. Phone 517-739-8486 or schedule your flight.
Three major trails provide ample hiking opportunities and a chance to enjoy the autumn splendor up close and personal. No fees are charged for the use of these trails. Care should be taken to keep the trails clean and in the condition they were found. Pack out what you pack in!
The CORSAIR TRAIL provides 26 miles of maintained trails in the Huron National Forest. Wildlife is abundant in this area with gently rolling to somewhat hilly terrain. The trail head is located on Monument Road, 4.5 miles south of River Road.
EAGLE RUN TRAIL offers an 11 mile groomed trail along the AuSable River. The trail head is three miles west of Oscoda at the Eastgate Welcome Center to the River Road Scenic Byway. Bikers (non-motorized) may also use this trail.
The HIGHBANKS TRAIL is a scenic, back-country linear trail that runs 14 miles from Iargo Springs to Sid Town, passing by Lumbermen's Monument and the Canoer's Memorial.