There are a plethora of Wexford County outdoor recreation options, from fishing on the Manistee River to flying down the slopes at Caberfae Peaks.
Wexford County includes some of the most beautiful stretches of one of America’s most noteworthy waterways, the Manistee River. The Manistee is a remarkably unspoiled river that runs from its headwaters near Grayling to the Lake Michigan shore at Manistee, a total of 232 river miles. Many miles of the river are protected, so experiencing the stream as a kayaker, canoeist or fisherman is a peaceful, relaxing travel through forested shores. The Manistee has earned national renown as a fishery, and is noted especially for brown trout. A vibrant fly-fishing scene plays out on its waters.
Huron Manistee National Forest / Pere Marquette State Forest
Wexford County is blessed with vast stretches of public lands—122,000 acres, a third of the entire county land mass—thanks to the Huron-Manistee National Forest and the Pere Marquette State Forest. For people who choose to make a life here, those lands are a rich resource and touchstone, an ongoing source of recreation and inspiration. Perhaps surprisingly for people not familiar with winter climates, Wexford is possibly even more busy and vibrant in the winter than in the summer, thanks to the combination of plentiful snowfall and dozens of miles of snowmobile trails, cross-country ski trails and snowshoe-able forest to explore. Once the snow melts, the early days of spring mean morel mushrooms are popping up, and families head into the forest in search of this renowned delicacy. As summer evolves, people gather friends and family to camp and fish in secluded forest lakes that have not a house on their shores. Protected public lands also help ensure that the Manistee River remains pure and undeveloped for outdoor recreation, because state lands embrace long stretches of the waterway.
Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort
Built by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps and opened in 1937, Caberfae Peaks ski resort lays claim to title of oldest ski resort in the Midwest and fourth oldest ski resort in the United States. That legacy resonates today for residents of Wexford County, who can easily access Caberfae slopes for, say, midweek ski league night after work or with the whole family for weekend days on the slopes.
The miles and miles of groomed snowmobile trails that trace through the public forest of Wexford County have earned this place wide recognition in the sledder community. Locals immerse in winter culture by pulling on warm snowmobile suits, pulling on a safe helmet, sliding their hands into toasty mittens, feet into boots, and motoring along the trails. Often families and friends join to form long caravans, sometimes trolling slowly through the forest, other times opening it up on the straightaways, sightseeing, stopping for picnics, or pulling in to a restaurant that’s set along the trail.