Black River


The Black River provides visitors with outstanding scenery, unique geographical features, superb fisheries, cultural history, and abundant recreation opportunities.

View larger map

Designated Reach

March 3, 1992. From the Ottawa National Forest Boundary to Lake Superior.

Outstandingly Remarkable Values


Anadromous populations of coho salmon, Chinook salmon, and steelhead are present in the lower section of the river.


The river flows through a gorge that is cut into a lake bench landform underlain by slates and sandstone rock. The gorge, exposures of rock, and concentrations of waterfalls and rapids provides unique opportunities for study of geology and geomorphology.


Black River Harbor is the only harbor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where recreation sites were constructed by the 3601st Company CCC in 1938-1939.


Recreation opportunities are abundant and include viewing scenery (waterfalls, fall color, Lake Superior), camping, picnicking, boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking. The North Country National Scenic Trail parallels the river for about six miles, and there are ample opportunities for camping along this route.

The Black River National Forest Scenic Byway comprises 12 miles of Black River Harbor Road from Bessemer to Black River Harbor, Michigan. This byway is a very popular travel route because of the scenic beauty of the area, including the numerous waterfalls on the Black River, old-growth eastern white pine and hemlock stands, and the Historic Black River Harbor Village. Black River Harbor provides charter fishing opportunities in Lake Superior.


The many waterfalls, rapids and gorge-like landscapes along this river, combined with a mix of large hemlock and eastern white pine, has long been recognized as a distinctive resource.


Black bear, white-tailed deer, red fox, various owls, and many more species call the Ottawa National Forest home. The river corridor supports wildlife habitats and populations for many species, including bald eagles, wolves, wood turtles (listed as threatened in Wisconsin and a species of special concern in Michigan), marten, and numerous other species of national and regional significance. Black bears, coyotes, fishers, and wolves are plentiful but may require more patience to see. The Kirtland's warbler, a federally endangered species, is now known to be resident and breeding on the Ottawa National Forest.

Managing Partners And Contacts


Scenic — 14 miles; Total — 14 miles.
Show more