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Visitor Activities

Red-winged Blackbird in a Red Pine Tree

A red-winged blackbird enjoys a meal.

  • Marshland Wildlife Drive

    Beaver with Branch

    Enjoy a drive through the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. This seven mile, one way, auto tour route open May 15 to October 20 from dawn to dusk takes visitors through wetlands and forests. Three observation decks and numerous pools make this drive a great wildlife watching opportunity. The tour route does not accommodate large recreational vehicles. Common sites on the driving tour include common loons, trumpeter swans, muskrat, beaver, ring-necked ducks, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, osprey, and many other species.

  • Fishing Loop

    Painted Turtle

    The Fishing Loop is an optional 3.5 mile add on to the Marshland Wildlife Drive.  Although you bypass about 1 mile of the Marshland Wildlife Drive the Fishing Loop offers visitors a more diverse view of the landscape.  The Fishing Loop is a wonderful place to watch for painted and snapping turtles, beaver, muskrat, sandhill cranes, secretive marsh birds like the American bittern, sora and Virginia rail, sharp-tailed grouse, osprey, and numerous other animals.  The Fishing Loop is open May 15 to September 30. In October and November the Fishing Loop is closed to pedestrian traffic, as well as vehicles, to allow migrating birds a safe, quiet place to rest and refuel during their fall migration.

  • Wildlife Observation

    Woman looking through binoculars

    Seney National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to watch wildlife and is a designated Important Bird Area for a number of species. Each year, visitors from around the world come to the refuge to observe wildlife. The auto tour provides people of all ages and abilities an excellent opportunity to observe wildlife. You may choose to walk one of the nature trails or hike and bike the back-country roads in search of wildlife. If you are lucky, you may glimpse a black bear, river otter or gray wolf. During the winter, use cross-country skis or snowshoes to track wildlife.

    Find out more information about Important Bird Areas.

    Tips for watching wildlife.

  • Interpretation

    A bus load of visitors on an interpretive tour

    The refuge offers a variety of programs throughout the year. Annual events include Children’s Fishing Day, Youth in the Outdoors, the Photo Contest and the Winter Film Festivals. Tours, talks and activities are also scheduled throughout the year.

    Look for upcoming events.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental education class explores the pond

    The refuge welcomes school groups and others interested in environmental education. School field trips and classroom visits are accommodated through tours, hikes, pond studies, games and talks. To schedule a field trip contact the Visitor Services Manager.

    Staff at Seney National Wildlife Refuge also assist college and university faculty by providing both field trips and classroom lectures on a range of topics, including wildlife habitat management, conservation biology, disturbance and landscape ecology and ecosystem restoration. Please contact the Wildlife Biologist at least one month in advance to schedule any presentation.

    Parent and educator information.

  • Photography

    Woman taking a picture

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on National Wildlife Refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising when you consider the popularity of digital cameras and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities.  The number of nature photographers has grown at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    The network of roads and other facilities along the pools affords photographers of all skill levels excellent opportunities to photograph wildlife. Many beginners focus their lens on the charismatic trumpeter swan or common loon, as is evident by entries to the annual Seney National Wildlife Refuge Photo Contest. More seasoned photographers often venture beyond the auto tour route to capture images of plants, insects, and landscapes bathed in a wide spectrum of light conditions.

    Learn more about wildlife photography.

  • Hiking/Biking

    School Bike Trip

    Hiking and biking are wonderful ways to see the refuge. Unless otherwise stated, all refuge roads are open to bikers and hikers. The refuge manager may close some areas during peak bird migration or due to maintenance or management activities. Check at the Visitor Center or watch the roads for closure signs. The Pine Ridge Nature Trail and the cross-country ski trails are not open to bicycles. Refuge staff members drive through the back-country while conducting surveys so please be aware of the possibility of vehicles on the roads. To help you plan your visit, mileage is marked on the map in the general refuge brochure. Outfitters in Germfask rent bikes to interested parties.

    Hike or bike the refuge.

  • Canoeing/Kayaking


    Enjoy a day of paddling along the Manistique River which flows through the southeastern portion of the refuge. Outfitters are located in Germfask and will rent boats or provide a shuttle upon request. Use is limited to daylight hours with no overnight camping allowed. Boats and flotation devices of any kind are not allowed on the refuge pools.

    Paddle the refuge.

  • Fishing

    Boy fishing

    Seney National Wildlife Refuge provides a 3.5-mile Fishing Loop and a universally accessible fishing pier. Many people enjoy fishing for yellow perch and northern pike from the banks of refuge impoundments. Others fish the Driggs River for brook trout or the Manistique River for walleye, small mouth bass and brown trout. Impoundment fishing is open from May 15 to September 30 in specified pools. River fishing is allowed in accordance with state regulations. No boats or flotation devices are allowed on the impoundments and lead-free tackle must be used. Ice fishing is permitted on all refuge impoundments. Please see the fishing brochure for specific details.

    Fishing the refuge.

  • Hunting

    Hunter dragging deer from woods.

    Hunting on the refuge is popular with local residents and many visitors. Take advantage of ruffed grouse, American woodcock, Wilson’s snipe, snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, and American black bear hunting during state seasons. There are three hunting units on the refuge. Hunting Area A encompasses approximately 47,450 acres in the center of the refuge. Area B encompasses approximately 34,965 acres and includes most of the Wilderness Area and the northern portion of the refuge. Area C encompasses approximately 3,700 acres of the south east section of the refuge. Please see the hunting brochure for specific details.

    Hunt the refuge.

  • Geocaching


    There are ten virtual caches located throughout the refuge. They are considered virtual since there is not a container or item hidden at the site. Instead, the seeker must find the defining feature described in a clue. Seekers can claim a prize at the Visitor Center during open hours, May 15 to October 20 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

    Geocaching the refuge.

  • Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

    Cross-country Skiing

    Cross-country skiers are welcome to break their own trails anywhere on the refuge. However, if you prefer an easier glide, the Northern Hardwoods Cross-country Ski Area offers ten miles of groomed Nordic trails. Trails are groomed on Thursdays or Fridays as conditions allow. Turn west off M-77 onto Robinson Road three tenths of a mile south of the blinking light in Germfask. The trail head is at the end of the road. Brochures with maps are available, during the ski season, at the kiosk at the start of the trails or you can print your own copy.

    Snowshoeing is permitted anywhere on the refuge, except on groomed ski trails. Crossing the pools is not recommended as thin ice conditions may exist. The refuge has a limited number of snowshoes that are available for checkout during office during office hours. Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

    Ski or snowshoe the refuge.



  • Birding

    Common Tern

    Seney National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for over 200 species of birds. Many people visit the refuge with hopes of seeing the elusive yellow rail or black-backed woodpecker. Others enjoy coming to the refuge to see favorites including common loons, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, osprey, and sandhill cranes.

    Over 337 species of the birds have been documented using the Whitefish Point Unit of the refuge. At times species like the common eider and the Mississippi kite accidentally end up at the point. The point is also a hot spot for hawks, passerines, shorebirds and waterbirds.

    Birding the refuge.

  • Mushroom and Berry Picking

    Red Raspberries

    Foragers may enjoy picking mushrooms or berries at the refuge. Raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries, cherries and other wild fruits help satisfy your sweet tooth. Morels, chanterelle, boletes and other edible mushrooms, in contrast to fruits, offer savory flavors. Some mushrooms and berries are poisonous - if you are unsure don't eat!

    Mushroom and berry picking.

  • Outreach

    Sandhill Crane Research

    Refuge staff members are available to come and speak to your group.  Programs are available on a variety of topics concerning the refuge, plants and animals living in the area or other topics.

    Learn more about having a staff member speak at your event.

Page Photo Credits — Red-winged Blackbird - Charles Klinger, Photo Contest, Beaver with branch - USFWS, Painted Turtle - Allie Fox, Photo Contest, Woman Looking Through Binoculars - © Jim Hill, Visitors on an Tour - Sara Giles, USFWS, Class Exploring Pond Life - USFWS, Woman Taking a Picture - Julie Christiansen, Photo Contest, School Bike Trip - Mandy Salminen, USFWS, Canoeing the Manistique River - Keri Boothe, Photo Contest, Boy Fishing - USFWS, Hunter with Deer - Sara Giles, USFWS, GPS Unit on a Map - Sara Giles, USFWS, Cross-country Skier - Craig Plerzchalski, Photo Contest, Common Tern - Marco Sanchez, USFWS, Red Raspberries - Sara Giles/USFWS
Last Updated: Apr 04, 2016
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