Located in the Upper Midwest, Iron County’s opportunities for year-round family recreation are endless. The area is home to 41,500 acres of lakes and streams, along with nearly 425,000 acres of forestland. From camping and canoeing, fishing and hunting, and golfing and hiking in the warmer months to skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, Iron County is home to it all.
Ask any angler and they will agree; whether it’s reeling in a native brook trout in the spring or setting up a shack to snag a trophy pike through the icy waters, one visit and you will be hooked on the area’s impressive waterways, including Iron County’s Blue Ribbon Trout Streams such as Cooks Run and the Brule, Fence, Iron and Paint Rivers. Hunting, whether for small game or large game, is a favorite pastime among Iron County residents and visitors. At the commencement of the first deer season, archers from all over come to the area to participate in this popular sport, while the excitement grows for November 15th – opening day for the general firearms season for whitetail deer.
Hiking and biking at Brule Lake, a State Historic Site trail, is incredible. Running a half-mile, the trail leads to the historic Treaty Tree that marks the Michigan-Wisconsin overland border. Further sites not to be missed for hiking and biking enthusiasts include Pentoga Park’s Brule River Trail, the Wolf Track Nature Trail, Bewabic State Park, the Glidden Lake Footpaths, the Ge-Che Trail at Lake Ottawa, Horserace Rapids and the Ge-Che-Hagerman-Brule Lake loops.
For some fun on the water, canoeing along the Paint River offers a 45-mile trip, equaling out to a three- to seven-day trip upon completion. The Net River, located in the northern section of the county, and the Brule River, which is the border river between Michigan and Wisconsin, are also great choices for canoeing and fishing.
A day on the greens can be found at one of Iron County’s three golf courses. The George Young Recreational Complex southeast of Iron River affords golfers with a well-manicured, 18-hole course that is also equipped with miles of cross-country ski trails, an indoor pool, nature trails for hiking and mountain biking and a rustic timber and stone club house. Nine-hole games can be played at Crystal View Municipal Course in Crystal Falls and the Iron River Country Club in Iron River.
While in Iron County, a visit to the Ottawa National Forest is a must. The forest, which is comprised of over 500 lakes and nearly 2,000 miles of rivers and streams, spans the entire western half of the county and offers a place for fishing, canoeing, snowmobiling, skiing, hiking, camping and just plain relaxing.
When the snow starts falling in the winter, Iron County’s hills are active with cross-country skiers, downhill skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and sledders. Popular sites for cross-county skiing include the Ge-Che Hagerman-Brule trails in the Ottawa National Forest and the trails at the Lake Mary Plains Pathway in the Glidden Lake State Forest Campground. Downhill skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes at Ski Brule – an area known for the longest season in the Midwest region. In addition, two municipal ski hills can be accessed: Crystella in Crystal Falls and Spring Valley in Caspian. Both hills are perfect for skiing, snowboarding and sledding.
For visitors staying the night, the weekend, the week or all season, Iron County has a number of top accommodations to meet every need. Dozens of motels, hotels and resorts dot the map of the area, each providing an array of amenities sure to make your stay comfortable.
Hotels and motels range from comfortable, family-owned operations to larger chains with modern facilities. Resorts are a big draw in the county, with everything from log cabins to bed and breakfasts to large resorts. Most of the area’s lodging options are within easy access to recreational endeavors such as snowmobile trails, horseback riding, canoeing, skiing, fishing and boating.
Iron River operates its own modern and gorgeous RV Park on the river, within walking distance of its downtown district. Crystal Falls encourages RVs and campers in its Runkle Lake Park. The county also provides sites for RV travelers at its many campgrounds, while many of the motels offer RV hookup.
Log onto the county’s website at www.iron.org for links to lodging, or, when you get to Iron County, pick up one of its travel/tourism publications. The seasonal Fun Guides, published by the county’s newspaper, are good sources of lodging and recreational information.