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The 1,932 sq mile Au Sable River Watershed is northern Michigan’s largest watershed. The Au Sable River begins at the junction of Kolke and Bradford Creeks, near Frederic in Crawford County. It eventually empties into Lake Huron near Oscoda. The Watershed boasts 476 miles of streams, much of which is cold-water habitat.
The mighty Au Sable River runs over 130 miles beginning in the quiet wooded headwaters that are the heart of the Lower Peninsula. The Au Sable drops 650 feet from its source 2 miles north of Frederic, to its outlet in Lake Huron. The River has an average flow of 1,100 ft³/s (31 m³/s) at its mouth.
In 2011 the river was named to the National Fish Habitat Action Plan’s 10 “Waters to Watch” as a result of the numerous conservation efforts taking place and the level of collaboration being directed at the local level to ensure success of this work.
One unique feature of the Au Sable River Watershed is the presence of Iargo Springs. These natural springs near Wallace were historically used for drinking water, especially for early loggers, and have been an important recreational site since at least the 1920’s. Renovated in 1991, the Iargo Springs site now features a boardwalk winding through the natural springs, a series of small waterfalls, and a gorgeous view of the Au Sable River and Cooke Pond. The Au Sable River Watershed also provides habitat and nesting ground for the rare Kirtland’s warbler. Historically, arctic grayling lived here, too. When a railroad to Grayling was established in 1873, a world-class arctic grayling fishery drew anglers from far and wide to the Au Sable. By the beginning of the 1900s, however, the arctic grayling had disappeared from the river system.
In the middle of all this is one of the best trout fisheries of the east and home to one of the oldest canoe races in America, the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon (a 120-mile course).
Source: Huron Pines, NEMCOG, River Restoration in Northern Michigan & EPA
Northeast Michigan Council of Governments
80 Livingston Blvd. | PO Box 457
Gaylord, MI 49734
(989) 705-3730 | nemcog.org