These sites only allow exploring on foot.
Rock River Canyon Wilderness
Two 150 foot deep river canyons, Rock River and Silver Creek, make for a challenging wilderness area with wildly variable terrain. Elevations in the wilderness range from 680 to 1000 feet above sea level. The remote Rock River Falls runs through this area. At the edge of the canyons are sandstone outcrops that the forces of water & wind have eroded into caves (10 to 40 feet deep). During winter, ice caverns are formed by seeping water. Primary access is via Rock River Road to Federal Forest Road (FFR) 2267 (also known as Sandstrom Rd). Caution: FFR 2267 is rough and may be impassable.
North Country Trail
The North Country Trail is a national scenic trail that travels over 4,000 miles from the east coast to North Dakota. Around 20 miles of this trail run through the township – from Sandstrom Rd (also known as FFR 2276) in the east to Sand River Rd in the west. More information, GPS coordinates, and maps are available from a group of volunteers who maintain the trail, the North Country Trail Hikers .
Laughing Whitefish Lake Preserve
This 1,728 acre preserve includes three-quarters of the lake as well as over 1,000 acres of wetlands and upland forest. The George Shiras III Discovery Trail offers a one mile hike on a marked loop, which includes an observation deck overlooking the lake & river. This location is owned & maintained by the Nature Conservancy thanks to the generous donation of land by the Reynolds family. Please respect the visitation guidelines .
Tory’s Woods Conservation Preserve
Tory’s Woods is a 233 acre site donated by John & Tory Parlin to the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy . This forest, a little east of Sand River and accessible via Section 5 road, hosts a unique array of biomes and wildlife habitat. The site currently has a looped trail system with additional signs and paths planned. Please respect the land and choose only low impact activities (hiking, bird & animal watching, snowshoeing, etc).
Memorial Nature Sanctuary
This sanctuary allows you to hike through old-growth forests with diverse plant communities and ends with a picturesque view of Lake Superior. The marked trail winds through the forest to a rocky shoreline near the mouth of the Laughing Whitefish River. Please respect the visitation policies of this site.
Tyoga Settlement (1905-1907)
This site has an interpretive signed trail telling the story of the mighty men who felled virgin white pines with two-man saws. Once home to a logging camp as well as a DNR campground, the looped pathway at this site meanders along the Laughing Whitefish River. To reach the trail: starting at M28, drive about 2 mi north on Laughing Whitefish Point Rd (also known as North Point Rd). Continue past the sign for Mallette Point Rd. Shortly after, there is a road to the right marked by a sign for the trail. This 1.4 mile loop is maintained through cooperative efforts of the DNR parks division (under Van Riper State Park) and volunteers .
Rock River Kilns
Charcoal was made in these kilns to provide fuel for early iron smelting. The kilns sit next to the old rail bed of the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway. The sandstone, beehive-shaped kilns were used from 1879 to 1896, when the supply of hardwoods needed for charcoal was exhausted. Details can be found on the location and history of the kilns .
Deer Lake Boat Launch
This site offers (hard surface) ramp access to Deer Lake, a small dock for boat access, parking for nine vehicles (with trailer space), and an outhouse. Within walking distance of the Deer Lake roadside park (see ‘swimming’ below), both fishermen and recreational boaters use this site. It is run and maintained by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) .
AuTrain Boat Launch
This site includes a ramp (hard surface) with a small dock & protective rock breakwall, parking for 18 vehicles (trailer-sized spaces) and provides direct access to Lake Superior. It is maintained by the Hiawatha National Forest with cooperative efforts from Onota Township and the DNR.
Laughing Whitefish River
The John H. Hammer public access site features a ramp (gravel/dirt) for boat access near the mouth of the Laughing Whitefish River. Directions: from M28 near Deerton Rd – take North Point Rd (also known as Laughing Whitefish Point Rd) for over two (2) miles – you will cross two bridges. There will be a DNR signed road to the left. It is north of the Tyoga Trail site and maintained by the DNR.
Deer Lake Park
This roadside park has a sandy beach, picnic tables, and grills. Designed with summer fun in mind, this site also offers a large parking area, outhouses, garbage cans, and is within walking distance of the Deer Lake boat ramp. This park has long been a favorite with local people and visitors alike for picnics, swimming, boating, and fishing.
Swimming access to Lake Superior can be found via scenic turnouts along M28.
Off-Road Vehicles & Bikes
Hiawatha National Forest
Trails & roads are available in the west half of the Hiawatha – covering a significant area on the eastern side of the township. Caution: Federal Forest roads are often rough and may be impassable.
Rails to Trails
An east-west trail covers the former railroad grade through the entire township – from Marquette County all the way to AuTrain. It is signed, graveled, and also groomed seasonally for snowmobiles. It was developed and is maintained by the DNR.