Images from the Sylvania Wilderness

Located in the Ottawa National Forrest on the Western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the town of Watersmeet, the Sylvania Wilderness Area is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Combined with the adjacent Recreation Area, the 18,327 acre wilderness offers 34 named lakes. The catch and release, barb less hook fishing regulations in many of these lakes have created a little known world class smallmouth bass fishery. The wilderness area lakes are restricted to non-motorized traffic, except for Crooked Lake, on which motors are allowed only by property owners who lived there when the area was declared a “wilderness”.

We arrived at the ranger station late in the day on Friday only to find that the main park was undergoing a renovation project. This meant that the main campground was closed as well as the boat launch on Clark Lake, where I usually land my canoe. It is a convenient landing since it is only a short distance to carry your boat and gear from your car to the water. The entry for now is a small spot on Helen Lake then an portage into Clark lake. Parking is at Snap Jack Lake, nearly a mile from the put in on Helen. This was inconvenient an hopefully when I visit next time the area an facilities will be much improved. Even with this inconvenience there seemed to be lots of visitor and relatively few campsites available

our first campfire
our first campfire

So we stayed at the Lac Vieux Desert Casino Hotel for the night and started the next morning. We got the executive suite.

my cedar strip canoe number two waiting to be loaded
my cedar strip canoe number two waiting to be loaded
a small mouth bass for Marcie
a small mouth bass for Marcie
some Smallies for me too
some Smallies for me too

We covered lots of territory on this two night/3 day trip. We camped on Clark Lake the first night. After setting up camp we made a day trip down through Loon Lake to Deer Island Lake then back. Fishing was a little slow but we caught a few nice sized Smallmouth Bass.

loading the gear again
loading the gear again
I think these are telling me a storm is coming
I think these are telling me a storm is coming
a portage trail
a portage trail
the best way to carry a canoe
the best way to carry a canoe

The next day we camped on Whitefish Lake. Getting there from Clark Lake requires two long portages and one short portage and a short paddle through Hay Lake. We fished very little on Whitefish Lake but still managed to catch two nice bass. The bad weather rolled, and after one stormy night we left the next day. A soaking downpour was our farewell from this lake.

a bog in the forest
a bog in the forest

None the less the lakes are beautiful, the virgin forest is enchanting, the wildlife is abundant and the crowding from other humans is minimal.

sunset over the pines
sunset over the pines
smoke among the branches
smoke among the branches
edible corral mushroom
edible corral mushroom
some kind of purple leaves
some kind of purple leaves
peeling birch bark
peeling birch bark
a view in a pristine forest of virgin pine and cedar mixed with maple and birch, untouched by logging
a view in a pristine forest of virgin pine and cedar mixed with maple and birch, untouched by logging
follow the leader, follow moma
follow the leader, follow moma
a crowd of Common Mergansers
a crowd of Common Mergansers
curious campsite visitor
curious campsite visitor

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Comments 4 comments

Shyeshia  Winters profile image

Shyeshia Winters 2 years ago from Kosciusko, Mississippi

This looks very peaceful & romantic.


DebMartin 20 months ago

Your photos are beautiful. I've never been to the Sylvania Wilderness area. I seem to always head north at SSM. One day.


Chantelle Porter profile image

Chantelle Porter 15 months ago from Chicago

Great article. Stunning photos. Are you a Yooper? I used to live in Ironwood and Marquette.


jimmar profile image

jimmar 15 months ago from Michigan Author

Was a Yooper, still am one at heart. I grew up in Marquette and Harvey. Also lived in Escanaba, and Houghton.

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