Northern Michigan Outdoors: Springtime in Northern Michigan is prime time for bird watching, morel mushroom hunting and other outdoor pursuits like hiking, ORV riding and mountain biking on Northern Michigan's trails. Public lands, such as Northern Michigan's state forests, state game areas, state parks and recreation areas, as well as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, are great destinations for these activities. Spring also brings the start of the new fishing season and the first of Michigan’s two turkey hunting seasons.

“In the spring, cabin fever has caught up to a lot of Michiganders and they want to get outdoors,” said Dean Molnar, assistant chief of the Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division. “By preparing for your time in the woods with safety in mind, everyone can have a great time before they head into the woods.”

Molnar offered the following tips for a safe outing in Northern Michigan’s outdoors:

  • Always tell someone, such as a family member or friend, where you are going and what time you plan to be back before you leave. That way, if you are running later than your expected return time, it is easier to notify authorities you may be lost, the approximate area you may be and that you need assistance. Additionally, leave your car where it can easily be found to give searchers a starting point to come look for you.
  • Take your cell phone with you. Today’s cell phones have technology that can allow law enforcement to track your phone’s signal if you are lost. Also, many smartphones come with GPS technology. Be familiar with how to use these applications on your smartphone before you venture into Northern Michigan's outdoors.
  • If you have a smartphone, download flashlight and compass applications – there are a few free ones available at both Google Play (for Android phones) and the App Store on iPhones.
  • If you don’t have a cell phone or smartphone, be sure to take a compass and small flashlight with you.
  • Be familiar with any land use rules if you are going out on public land. If the land is open to hunting, be aware of Michigan’s spring turkey season – wear hunter orange and stay on designated trails and pathways.
  • Remember that in the spring, Northern Michigan’s weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers for warmth and comfort. Also remember if you are trout fishing in a cold-water stream that water temperatures will be considerably colder than air temperatures this time of year, making it imperative to dress in layers. Watch for additional warm weather-cold water safety information from and other media later this spring.
  • Take snacks and water. It’s easy to shove a granola bar or snack crackers in your gear so you have some food with you in case you get lost. Take a bottle of water with you, too.
  • Take a whistle. Having a small whistle with you is a good idea because it can create a noise to help search and rescue squads to find you.?

“Even the most experienced outdoor recreation enthusiast can get lost in the woods,” said Molnar. “We encourage those seeking fun in Michigan’s outdoors to consider these safety tips and be familiar with outdoors survival as well. The better prepared you are, the more safe and enjoyable your time in the woods will be.”

To make the most of your spring outdoors in Northern Michigan, check out the Outdoors tab on, including the MyNorth Activities Locator. And sign up for our monthly MyNorth Outdoors e-newsletter where you'll find timely information on Northern Michigan fishing, hiking, biking, boating, golf and especially, Northern Michigan beaches.