Pere Marquette State Forest
Guide

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Introduction

Located in Michigan’s Lake County, Pere Marquette State Forest is a natural preserve that is ideal for adventurous RV campers. You’ll be able to connect to dozens of miles of hiking trails that take you through scenic red pine forests. There are hundreds of streams in the forest, where you’ll be able to spot white tailed deer, coyotes, and a wide variety of waterfowl and bird species. You can connect to the North Country Trail, one of the longest trail networks in the United States. Many of the trails in the forest are multi-use, allowing for biking and cross-country skiing.

The streams and lakes in the area also give anglers a range of opportunities. Pere Marquette River is famous for its blue ribbon trout, and it also has notable populations of steelhead and salmon. You’ll also be able to canoe and kayak along the shaded shoreline, making for perfect summertime boating.

There are multiple RV campgrounds in the area, giving you plenty of options for camping. Ann’s Putman Lake Campground can accommodate large campervans, and is a short drive from the forest. Pickerel Lake RV Campground has excellent fishing and boating on site, and is also just a short drive from the forest.

RV Rentals in Pere Marquette State Forest

Transportation in Pere Marquette State Forest

Driving

Located in the western portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Pere Marquette State Forest can easily be reached from Grand Rapids, and is also a quick drive from Detroit. The forest is easy to navigate, with few tight turns or narrow roads to worry about. The two main RV campgrounds in the area are about a 15 minute drive from the forest.

If you are coming from Grand Rapids, take US-131 north out of the city and you’ll get to the forest in around an hour and a half. From Detroit, you’ll take I-75 to US-10 and reach the forest in around three and a half hours. From Chicago, take US-131 north and you’ll arrive in just over four hours.

There are two RV campgrounds near the forest. Ann’s Putnam Lake RV campground is ten minutes south of the forest along US-10, and can accommodate large RVs. Pickerel Lakeside RV Campground can be reached by taking M-37 south. Take caution while driving in the park during the winter, as the roads are often covered in ice and snow.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Pere Marquette State Forest

Campsites in Pere Marquette State Forest

Reservations camping

Pickerel Lakeside RV Campground

This campground is set on 700 feet of shoreline, giving you scenic views of the water. With 37 acres of hardwood forest, the campground gives you plenty of privacy. There are 46 sites in the campground, all of which have electrical hookups. There are restrooms, drinking water access points, and dump stations in the campground. You can fish on the lake, as well as canoe, kayak, and water ski. Reservations can be made online or by calling the office.

Ann’s Putnam Lake RV Campground

This campground is a ten-minute drive from Pere Marquette State Forest, making it one of the most convenient options for RV campers. There are 90 sites in the campground, and you’ll have access to private restrooms and showers. There is a lake with excellent fishing next to the campground, as well as hiking trails. Sites can be booked by calling or visiting the campground website.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Pere Marquette State Forest

In-Season

Boating

Located on the Pere Marquette River, the forest has a number of boating opportunities. You’ll be able to canoe and kayak along the long the river, with over 50 miles to explore. The two main RV campgrounds located near the forest also have lakes, where you’ll be able to fish and boat. If you stay at Pickerel Lakeside RV Campground, you can also water ski, with a boat launch located just outside the campground.

Biking

With dozens of miles of trails, the forest is an excellent area for biking. You’ll find terrain types for bikers of all experience levels, from narrow forest trails with tight turns to gentle paved paths. You can take the Lake Ann trail in the park, which connects to the largest RV campground in the forest.

There are no bike rentals from the park office, so make sure to bring your own along with your camper or trailer. You can also find a number of sporting stores in the area that have rentals.

Hiking

Pere Marquette State Forest is a hiking crossroads, connecting to dozens of trail networks that lead throughout the Lake County area. In total, you’ll have hundreds of miles of hikes taking you through the red pine forests and across hundreds of streams. You can also connect to the North Country Trail, a 4,600-mile trail that stretches across half of the United States. Hiking in the forest is excellent year round, although many visitors prefer the fall season, when the area’s colors are most striking.

Off-Season

Cross-Country Skiing

If you visit the forest during the winter, bring a pair of skis. Most of the trails are open to cross-country skiing, allowing you to explore the snow-covered forests and spot the wildlife. There are dozens of bird species, including

Most of the trails in the park are groomed throughout the winter, although conditions may be difficult for beginner skiers after heavy storms. Check with the park office to get updates on trail conditions. There are no equipment rentals, so bring everything you need along with your rig.

Birdwatching

Over 120 species of birds have been spotted in Pere Marquette State Forest, making it one of the best spots in the area for birdwatching. You’ll be able to spot harlequin ducks, black legged kittiwakes, purple sandpipers, and various species of waterfowl. There are a number of birdwatching groups in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, many of which produce educational materials. Check their websites to find field guides or bird checklists.

Fishing

Set in Michigan’s Lake County, Pere Marquette State Forest is known for its fishing. The Pere Marquette River has large populations of blue ribbon trout, as well as steelhead and salmon. Fishing is excellent year round, although you’ll have the most luck with salmon and trout in late spring.

The river is catch-and-release only throughout the year, and you’ll need all of the proper state licenses to fish. There are no rentals directly from the park office that maintains the forest, although you can find a number of bait shops in the surrounding area.

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