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Au Sable River Watershed


Groups That Work in the Watershed | Projects Sub-Watersheds | Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres Surface Area of Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres Road/Stream Crossings

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).

Groups That Work in the Watershed


Sub-Watersheds of the Au Sable

  • Alexander Lake
  • Backus Creek
  • Bamfield Creek-Au Sable River
  • Barger Creek-Thunder Bay River
  • Beaver Creek
  • Big Bear Lake-West Branch Big Creek
  • Black River
  • Blockhouse Creek-Au Sable River
  • Boyne River
  • Bradford Creek
  • Carter Creek-North Branch Au Sable River
  • Cherry Creek-Au Sable River
  • Chub Creek
  • Comins Creek-Au Sable River
  • Conner Marsh-Au Sable River
  • Cooke Dam-Au Sable River
  • Crapo Creek-North Branch Au Sable River
  • Crooked Creek-Thunder Bay River
  • Denton Creek
  • Douglas Creek-South Branch Au Sable River
  • Duval Creek-Pine River
  • East Branch Au Sable River
  • East Branch Big Creek
  • East Branch Big Creek-Big Creek
  • East Branch Black River
  • East Branch Pine River
  • East Creek
  • Flower Lake-West Branch Rifle River
  • Foote Dam-Au Sable River
  • Frenchman
  • Creek-Manistee River
  • Gilchrist Creek
  • Guiley Creek
  • Hale Creek
  • Headwaters Beaver Creek
  • Headwaters West Branch Big Creek
  • Higgins Lake
  • Honeywell Creek-Au Sable River
  • Houghton Creek
  • Hudson Creek-South Branch Au Sable River
  • Hunt Creek
  • Klacking Creek-Rifle River
  • Kolke Creek
  • Kunze Creek
  • Kyle Lake
  • Lake Huron
  • Lake Saint Helen-South Branch Au Sable River
  • Lake Tecon-Kolke Creek
  • Little Wolf Creek
  • Loon Lake
  • Lost Lake-Manistee River
  • Mack Lake
  • Marsh Creek
  • Mason Creek-Frontal Lake Huron
  • McGillis Creek
  • Middle Branch Big Creek
  • Middle Branch
  • Tittabawassee River
  • Mossback Creek-Sturgeon River
  • Ostego Lake-North Branch Au Sable River
  • Oyster Creek-Rifle River
  • Penoyer Creek-Au Sable River
  • Perry Creek
  • Pike Creek-Upper South Branch Thunder Bay River
  • Portage Creek-Manistee River
  • Prior Creek
  • Robinson Creek
  • Roy Creek
  • Sage Lake-Au Gres River
  • Sauger Creek-South Branch Au Sable River
  • Saunders Creek-Black River
  • Shellenbarger Lake-Au Sable River
  • Silver Creek
  • Simpson Creek-Au Sable River
  • Smith Creek
  • Smith Creek-Au Sable River
  • Sohn Creek-Au Sable River
  • South Branch Pigeon River-Pigeon River
  • South Branch Pine River
  • South Branch River
  • South Creek-South Branch Au Sable River
  • State Ditch-Au Sable River
  • Sucker Creek
  • Tea Lake-East Branch Big Creek
  • Thayer Creek
  • Thumb Lake-West Branch Sturgeon River
  • Turtle Creek-North Branch Au Sable River
  • Tuttle Ditch
  • Van Etten Creek
  • Van Etten Creek-Frontal Lake Huron
  • Van Etten Lake-Pine River
  • Wakeley Creek-Au Sable River
  • Wallace Creek
  • West Branch Big Creek
  • West Branch Big Creek-Big Creek
  • West Branch Pine River
  • West Branch River
  • Wilbur Creek
  • Willow Run

Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres

  • Alcona Dam Pond
  • Ambrose Lake
  • Barnes Lake
  • Bear Lake
  • Beaver Lake Flooding
  • Belmore Lake
  • Big Bass Lake
  • Big Bear Lake
  • Big Bradford Lake
  • Big Chub Lake
  • Big Creek
  • Bliss Lake
  • Blue Gill Lake
  • Bridge Lake
  • Brownlee Lake
  • Caulkins Lake
  • Chain Lakes
  • Clear Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Cooke Dam Pond
  • Crapo Lake
  • Crystal Lake
  • Curtis Lake
  • Dixon Lake
  • Douglas Lake
  • East Twin Lake
  • Elni Lake
  • Emerald Lake
  • Five Channels Dam
  • Five Lakes
  • Five Lakes (South)
  • Flooding
  • Foote Dam Pond
  • Fowler Lake
  • Gee Lake
  • Grass Lake
  • Grayling Electric
  • Guthrie Lake
  • Hatch Lake
  • Heart Lake
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Hunters Lake
  • Impoundment
  • Island Lake
  • Jewell Lake
  • Johannesburg Lake
  • Jones Lake
  • Jose Lake
  • Kassuba Lake
  • KP Lake
  • Lake Big Wolf
  • Lake Horicon
  • Lake Manuka
  • Lake Marjory
  • Lake Saint Helen
  • Lake Tecon
  • Lake Wequos
  • Lincoln Lake
  • Linton Lake
  • Little Au Sable Lake
  • Little Bear Lake
  • Little Bear Lake
  • Little Bradford Lake
  • Little Crapo Lake
  • Little Wolf Lake
  • Loon Lake
  • Loud Dam Pond
  • Lower Chub Lake
  • Luzerne Pond
  • Lynn Lake
  • Mack Lake
  • Marlbed Lake (Middle)
  • Mio Dam Pond
  • Moon Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • Muskrat Lake
  • North Lake
  • Oak Lake
  • Opal Lake
  • O'Rourke Lake
  • Otsego Lake
  • Perch Lakes
  • Perry Lake (North)
  • Perry Lake (South and Pond)
  • River Lakes
  • Robinson Creek
  • Robinson Lake
  • Russell Lake
  • Section One Lake
  • Seventh Spectacle Lake
  • Shellenbarger Lake
  • Shupac Lake
  • Sixth Spectacle Lake
  • Smith Lake
  • Snyder Lake
  • Spectacle Lake
  • Spectacle Lake
  • Sprinkler Lake
  • Swede Lake
  • Tea Lake
  • Town Line Lake
  • Trask Lake
  • Traverse Lake, Middle
  • Traverse Lake, West
  • Tubbs Lake
  • Turtle Lake
  • Van Etten Lake
  • Vaughn Lake
  • Viking Lake
  • Wakeley Lake
  • West Lake
  • West Twin Lake

Surface Area of Lakes Greater Than 20 Acres

22102.6 Acres

Source: Huron Pines, NEMCOG, River Restoration in Northern Michigan & EPA

Last updated on Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Watershed Facts


South Branch
St. Helen



Recreation Areas

Au Sable State Forest
Mackinaw State Forest

South Michigan Shore-to-Shore Riding-Hiking Trail

Major Tributaries

East Branch Au Sable River
North Branch Au Sable River
South Branch Au Sable River
East Branch Big Creek
Middle Branch Big Creek
West Branch Big Creek
Pine River
East Branch Pine River
West Branch Pine River
South Branch Pine River
South Branch River

Watersheds Downstream

Au Gres-Rifle River

Road/Stream Crossings


37 miles of impoundments

Northeast Michigan Council of Governments
80 Livingston Blvd. | PO Box 457
Gaylord, MI  49734
(989) 705-3730 | nemcog.org

Great Lakes Restoration Northeast Michigan Council of Governments US Environmental Protection Agency

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