The Great Outdoors: Pigeon River State Forest

Pigeon River State Forest is my favourite place to camp in the Lower Peninsula. It is rustic, has amazing wildlife and offers a variety of activities. It is the largest state forest in Michigan at nearly 100,000 acres. It is the home to the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi. But don’t expect to see elk all over, they are shy and hard to find. On this trip to Pigeon River, we invited a couple of our close friends, Brittany and Mike, to join us and share in our adventure. We had a blast!

Round Lake campground

Round Lake

Normally Steve and I disperse camp but this time we chose to stay at Round Lake Campground. Round Lake is one of six campgrounds in Pigeon River and my favourite. When we were looking for a location to hold our wedding at, this was our first choice. Unfortunately the DNR doesn’t allow their facilities to be rented out and we were unable to have it there. That being said, it seemed like the perfect location for our group outing. There are 10 rustic sites that can fit tents or small trailers. It costs $13 per night and a recreation passport is required on all vehicles.  Hand pump for water and vault toilets are available.

Fun with a Pocket Chainsaw – New Equipment!

The first activity of our trip was testing out a new piece of equipment. We received a Pocket Chainsaw for our wedding and were curious as to how well it works. Supposedly, it will cut through a 3 inch diameter limb in 20 seconds and will stay sharp forever. It is portable, fitting into your pocket as it states. In our testing, it took longer than 20 seconds to cut through limbs. Steve and Mike ended up spending a lot of the trail time using it to clear trails for travel. Besides not cutting through 3 inch diameter limb in 20 seconds, it also left some pretty brutal blisters on their hands where the ends rubbed against their skin. Useful, yes but only as a last resort.

Chainmate Survival Pocket Chainsaw with Pouch is found on Amazon if you’re interested in this piece of “survival gear.”

The Lakes of Pigeon River

There are many Lakes to visit in Pigeon River, small ponds by comparison to the Great Lakes. But they still offer some neat views. Two of the most impressive lakes that we visited were Lost Lake and Cornwall Flooding.

Lost Lake

Lost Lake

Steve and I have visited Lost Lake a number of times. This time we noticed that a new erosion protection program had started. There was a much new, less steep trail to follow to access the lake. The trail takes 5 minutes at most of reach the lake. Lost Lake’s best feature is its colouration; bright green. Considered a sinkhole lake, it sits well below the road and is completely surrounded by forest. It feels very isolated and very peaceful. We could have spent hours just sitting there,

Cornwall Flooding

Located in the heart of Pigeon River is the 295 acre Cornwall Flooding. The majority of fisherman can be found at this location due to the largemouth bass, sunfish and yellow perch available. No gas powdered motors are allowed to it’s a perfect place for small boats and canoes. There are a few trails that you can take along the lake but I haven’t found anything  that goes all the way around. The area doesn’t have picnic tables but is a great, quite place to have lunch, which we did. After lunch, Brittany and I played with Brisco in the water. We stayed right at the boat launch, out-of-the-way of the few boats that were on the lake.

The Trails

Trail riding is one of my favourite things to do in Pigeon River. Most of the places we go, you’ll need 4 wheel drive but there are some very neat sites that you would otherwise miss. Pigeon River State Forest is a strictly no ATV or Snowmobile area and the roughness on the trail is all completely natural, no maintenance. There are a few hill sthat provide challenges ascending and descending. We took Brittany and Mike to the very steep, rocky and slippery one that is on 82. It’s a blast.

Inspiration Point

Overlooking the Cornwall Flooding, an open field and miles of forest, Inspiration Point is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon and evening. It is 0.25 miles away from a “main” road and is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. One of the best parts of Inspiration Point can’t be seen (or heard) until sunset. This is not only a great spot for a sunset, facing west, but it’s also one of the primary locations for the elk herd. By the time sunset starts, you can hear the elk bulging in the near distance. If you wait until the sun has set entirely you may get to see some of the elk graze the field below. The DNR plant it each year to attract the elk. With us being there in teh afternoon this trip, Brittany and Mike didn’t get the opportunity to see elk here but the view is still exceptional.

Inspiration Point is located off of Osmun Road, 2 miles north of the Cheboygan county Line. There is a parking area that requires a Michigan Recreation Passport to park in. The trail leads from the parking lot to about 0.25 miles away and the top of Inspiration Point.

Safety First – Bear Mace

Amie, Brittany, and Mike

We all learned some new things on this trip when it came to bear mace. First, make sure the safety-pin stays in. Apparently on our never been used bear mace, the pin for the safety had somehow fallen out. Along with that, the “back up” safety also managed to somehow come undone. The second thing we learned was that the correct response to being maced is to run cold water over the area for 45 minutes. The third thing is that the result of yelling “Argh!!! It’s contagious!” is onlookers quickly dispersing.

While driving down Osmun road, leaving Inspiration Point behind, the bear mace in the back of my seat was accidentally set off.  The vehicle was stopped quickly and we all exited faster than I thought possible. Never had I imagined breathing being so difficult. Out of all of us, Brisco seemed to be the only one who did not get maced. Mike and Brittany being in the backseat, receive the worst.

After about ten minutes on the side of the road in sever pain, we got back in the Jeep and headed to the nearest campground for water. Of course we made quite an impact on campers at the campground who weren’t quite sure what was going on. Brittany was yelling in pain and laughing, Mike was silent and wandering around with squinted eyes and what looked like a bad sunburn and Steve was taking pictures. It was truly a picture perfect moment and one aspect of this camping trip we will never forget.

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