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Hikers on Huron National Wildlife Refuge by Sara Giles/USFWS.

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Huron National Wildlife Refuge is a series of granite islands emerging from the waters of Lake Superior. Visitors will need a boat to get to the island that is open to the public, Lighthouse Island. Visitors are strongly encouraged to monitor the weather forecast. There are no restrooms or trash facilities on the island. Leave no trace practices are required. Proper trip planning and preparation is critical for ensuring a safe and enjoyable visit. Upon arrival, visitors can disembark at the dock and take the trail to the lighthouse which has been walked by lighthouse keepers, shipwreck survivors and visitors alike since the late 1860s. 

You are welcome to explore. The buildings are closed to the public but there is still a lot to see. Near the dock, visitors can see the boathouse and the winch used to pull the boats out of the lake. As you walk up the trail you will come to an old bridge over a ravine. During the summer, the ravine is filled with flowers that escaped the lighthouse keepers gardens mixed with wildflowers native to the island. It is a great place to look for butterflies. The lighthouse, assistant keeper’s quarters, historic privy and oil house are just up the trail. The lighthouse, which was constructed in 1868, is made of granite blocks mined on the islands. 

Even the ground is interesting. Look down, do you notice those grooves in the rocks? Those are glacial striations made by glaciers which covered the landscape more than 10,000 years ago. As the glaciers moved over the rocks smaller rocks that were stuck to the bottom of the glaciers plowed grooves in the rock like miniature bulldozers creating the striations. 

The trail continues to the northwest end of the island where the old fog signal building and barracks are located. The hike offers stunning views of the lake. If you watch closely on the west side of the trail, you will pass nearly eye to eye with a bald eagles’ nest. On the trail, you will encounter old cement staircases built by the light station staff more than 100 years ago. 

When you reach the north end of the island, explore the outside of the buildings. Imagine what it would have been like to stand in that sight 100 years ago and listen to the steam whistles blasting to warn ships of the rocky shoals near the islands during fog. Some years, the whistles blew for more than 350 hours. If you were on the crew that stoked the whistles you would have had to shovel coal into boilers which powered the whistles and the pumps used to bring the water up from the lake. 

Take some time to admire the beauty of the granite and the ways life seems to exploit every nook and cranny available. Notice small trees growing in cracks and crevices in the rocks. Small calderas filled with water have multiple plants growing out of them and, if you look closely and know what to look for, you may even find insect larvae in the pools. 

On your way back to the mainland, enjoy birding by boating past the other islands. Herring gulls, mallards, bald eagles and other birds can be seen using the granite outcroppings.

Driving Directions

The only access to Huron National Wildlife Refuge is by boat. Interested parties can use the boat landings in Big Bay or L’Anse, Michigan. 


There is no charge to visit. 


There are no restrooms available on the refuge. The historic outhouse is not functional. Bring a trowel and some toilet paper. The only restrooms on the islands are behind nice big trees. Please be kind to others and plan ahead for your personal needs. Please practice “Leave No Trace” and bury compostable waste or pack it out.  

Points of Interest

Visitors enjoy looking at the lighthouse, keepers quarters, fog signal building and other buildings associated with the historic light station. Although the interior of the buildings are closed to the public, many people find the site interesting. 

Canada Mayflower by Alaina Larkin/USFWS.

What To Do

  • Walk the Lighthouse and North Point Trails 
  • Bring your camera, landscape photographers in particular will enjoy the stunning views 
  • Imagine what it would have been like to care for the light and fog signals throughout the years 
  • Stop and admire some of the interesting lichens hanging from branches or stuck to the rocks 
  • See if you can identify the boreal plant species on the island – blue bead lilies, twinflowers, glaucous honeysuckle, starflower and more 
  • Go birding by boat as you leave the island 

Know Before You Go

When you are planning your trip to Huron National Wildlife Refuge remember it is an island three miles off of the mainland and it takes a while to get there by boat. Be sure to check the weather before you leave to make sure you will not be caught off guard. Tell a friend or family member that you are going and check in with them when you get back. The weather can change quickly making the passage dangerous.  

Remember to bring: 

  • Sunglasses 
  • Trowel or W.A.G bag or baggy and toilet paper (please bury or pack out your waste) 
  • Water bottle 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Comfortable shoes for walking/hiking 
  • Dress in layers, even on hot days it can be cool on the lake 
  • Have backup clothes packed in a waterproof bag 
  • In spring or fall be prepared for a wide swing in temperatures 
  • Life jacket 
  • Maps 
  • Binoculars 
  • Guidebooks 
  • Cell phone, some carriers work well on the island 
  • Camera 

Visitor Tips

  • There is a guest book and Huron National Wildlife Refuge stamp in the mailbox on the boathouse as you enter the island 
  • Watch the weather and plan accordingly 
  • Bring your camera 
  • The North Point Trail can be a little challenging to find but keep looking it is there 
  • Please pack out all of your trash 
  • Huron National Wildlife Refuge is a wilderness area - lets keep it feeling wild 


Huron National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to recreate. We hope you will enjoy the opportunities your public lands have to offer. 


Lighthouse Island has two trails. One leads to from the dock to the lighthouse and the other leads from the lighthouse to the rest of the light saving station.


Lighthouse Trail

Open Season: Year-round – however it is inaccessible during the winter 
Length: 0.25-miles
Surface: Dirt, rock, sidewalk and stairs
Difficulty: Strenuous
Location: Trailhead is at the dock and it goes to the lighthouse
Information: The Lighthouse Trail takes visitors from the dock at Huron National Wildlife Refuge to the lighthouse, keeper’s quarters, oil house and historic privy. The trail starts on the west side of the island at lake level and quickly climbs the 160-feet up to the lighthouse passing views of Lake Superior and the interior of the island.

North Point Trail

Open Season: Year-round – however it is inaccessible during the winter 
Length: 0.4-miles
Surface: Dirt, rock, sidewalk and stairs
Difficulty: Strenuous
Location: Starts at the lighthouse and goes to the northwest tip of the island
Information: This trail runs from the lighthouse to the northwest tip of the island where the fog signal building, barracks and other structures from the light station era are located. It can be a challenging trail. The trail descends nearly 150-feet and uses old staircases built by the light station staff more than 100 years ago.

Other Facilities in the Complex

Huron National Wildlife Refuge is part of a complex of refuges. Staff at Seney National Wildlife Refuge manage the refuges in northern Michigan including Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge. Staff share management of Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge with Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Staff also manage the Kirtland’s Warbler Wildlife Management Area. 

Rules and Policies

Only Lighthouse Island, also known as Huron Island, is open to the public. All other refuge islands are closed. Emergency landings by boats in distress are the only exceptions. Huron National Wildlife Refuge is designated a Federal Wilderness Area. 


Huron National Wildlife Refuge - Dock
1674 Refuge Entrance RoadSeney,MI49883-9509
Driving Directions

The only access to Huron National Wildlife Refuge is by boat. Interested parties can use the boat landings in Big Bay or L’Anse, Michigan. 

Lighthouse Island is the only island out of eight open to the public. It is open daily from dawn until dusk for approved activities.
Huron Lighthouse