The United States Congress designated the Big Island Lake Wilderness (map
) in 1987 and it now has a total of 5,295 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Michigan
and is managed by the Forest Service.
Twenty-three lakes, ranging in size from 5 to 149 acres and joined by short, marked portages, make this Wilderness an excellent waterway for canoeists. The 54 clear-water acres of Twilight Lake are managed for trout. Fishing is popular, but special regulations limit the types of lures you can use and the size of the fish you can keep. Ducks, loons, and great blue herons are often seen feeding on or near the water, and bald eagles are occasional visitors. Sandhill cranes frequent the open upland in the area's northern section. Logged off between 1890 and the early 1930s, the region has many old stumps scattered among second-growth hardwoods (maple, white birch, beech, and quaking aspen) in the uplands, and hemlock, spruce, and balsam in the low wetlands along streams and bogs. Long-abandoned logging campsites are still evident. Woodland animals include black bears, pine martens, bobcats, raccoons, porcupines, and chipmunks. Although the terrain rolls easily, there are no trails within the forest, and hikers may find the going a challenge.
Between mid-December and mid-March the snow pack averages four feet in depth and attracts snowshoers and cross-country skiers. When the snow melts, 34 inches of annual precipitation keeps the countryside wet. Sadly, traffic noise sometimes seeps into this Wilderness.