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Michigan dnr > wildlife viewing guide > northern lower peninsula > au sable river

68 Au Sable RiverNorthern Lower Peninsula

wildlife viewing  |  directions and facility information

Cooke Pier Accessible fishing pier on Cooke Dam Pond completed in 1999, one of four new accessible piers constructed by Consumers Energy Company on the Au Sable River.
Photo: © Jim Bernier, Consumers Energy

This stretch of the Au Sable River from Grayling to Lake Huron offers breathtaking scenery as well as excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Panoramic vistas from high bluff overlooks, long wooden boardwalks over spring-fed streams, and miles of quiet, undeveloped shoreline all can be found along this scenic river that flows from Grayling to Oscoda. Consumers Energy owns and operates six hydroelectric dams along the Au Sable between Lake Huron and the town of Mio. Most of the river frontage is Huron National Forest land managed by the U.S. Forest Service or Consumers Energy lands. These lands provide a combination of developed and undeveloped outdoor recreation opportunities. Contact the Forest Service for hiking, canoeing, camping, skiing, and snowmobiling opportunities along the river corridor.

Wildlife Viewing

Foote trumpeter swans Foote Dam trumpeter swans with brood of five cygnets, June 2002. The parents who were released by Consumers Energy in 1998 are identified by the green neck bands. The cygnets will attain the all white adult plumage and black bill the following spring.
Photo: © Gary Dawson, Consumers Energy

Good chance of seeing bald eagles along the river in any season. Eagles hunt for fish and waterfowl in the shallow areas of the river and in the reservoirs formed by the six hydro dams. A successful effort to re-establish native trumpeter swan populations has resulted in excellent opportunities to view the majestic birds on the hydro reservoirs. Deer and wild turkeys are common along the river corridor and in the adjacent woodlands. Watch for them along roadsides at dawn and dusk. While canoeing the river, you may see river otters, mink, beaver, trumpeter swans, mallards and mergansers, and many songbirds. The song of the secretive winter wren, the northern water thrush and the black and white warbler are common along many of the thicker riverbank habitats. The melodious and distinctive songs of these and the many other resident songbirds add to the beauty of a float down this very wild and scenic river."

Loud wetlands View of the wetlands area on the Loud Dam Pond, as seen from the viewing deckat the River Road Scenic By-Way West Gate Entrance Station, M-65, seven miles north of Hale, MI.
Photo: © Jim Bernier, Consumers Energy

view of the river
A canoe float anywhere on the Au Sable River provides breathtaking scenery, excellent fishing, and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
Photo: © Dave Case

The 23 mile stretch of the river from Mio downstream to the 401 Bridge is a designated National Scenic River. In the river, you may see trout, walleye, pike and bass. Fishing here is excellent. The Au Sable makes an easy, beautiful float, and there are plenty of canoe liveries available in the area if you do not have your own boat.

Portions of this area are open to public hunting. Contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for hunting seasons and locations.

Duck box
This wood duck box in a wetland area near Cooke Dam Pond is one of 70 monitored and maintained by Consumers Energy Company near its Au Sauble River Dams. Sharp-eyed wildlife viewers can spot the boxes in wetland areas and look for signs of wood duck nesting activity in the spring. Consumers also maintains houses for purple martin colonies, nearly 100 eastern bluebird boxes and osprey nesting platforms along the Au Sable.
Photo: © Jim Bernier, Consumers Energy


There are many access points along the Au Sable River. A good place to begin is the River Road National Scenic Byway. From Oscoda, drive west along River Road as it follows the river to M-65 and the Loud Dam Pond. Many of the Forest Service River Access Areas require a Huron-Manistee vehicle pass to park at the sites. Contact the U.S. Forest Service to inquire about a vehicle pass and for excellent maps of the river.

Ownership: U.S. Forest Service, Huron National Forest, Mio Ranger District, (989) 826-3252, Huron Shores Ranger District, Oscoda, (989) 739-0728; Consumers Energy

Size: Nearly 120 river miles, from Grayling in the west to Lake Huron.

Closest Towns: Grayling, Mio, McKinley, Glennie, Oscoda

Weather and Driving Directions for Grayling

Weather and Driving Directions for Oscoda

Plan Your Trip with travel.michigan.org!

More information can be found by visiting the DNR's site (link leads to web app allowing users to search for campgrounds, harbors, trails and more), or by conducting a Google search:


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