Skip to main content

Little Presque Isle


  • Nominated for Legal Dedication (2)
  • State Forest Management Plan (2)
  • Little Presque Isle Natural Area location map


  • Natural Area - 430 acres
  • Wilderness Area - 8.6 acre island

Location: On the shore of Lake Superior, 7 miles northwest of Marquette

Management: Escanaba River State Forest

Activities: Birdwatching, camping (nearby), swimming (nearby), hunting, hiking, geologic exploration, nature study, photography

Importance: The Little Presque Isle tract is often called the crown jewel of Lake Superior, with its beautiful sand beaches, rugged shoreline cliffs, heavily timbered forests, and unmatched public views. The proposed natural area occurs north and south of Little Presque Point, around the mouth of Harlow Creek. The area is a combination of a wooded dune and swale community and bedrock lakeshore and cliff. The wooded dunes and swales formed as post-glacial lake levels receded, depositing a series of low sandy beach ridges. Since then, the ridges have become forested with hemlock, red pine, white pine, cedar, and balsam fir, while the wet swales that developed between them are now either forested or open wetlands.

The rock comprising the area represents some of the oldest exposed formations of its kind. More than a mile of bedrock lakeshore and cliffs adorns Little Presque Isle, including sandstone cliffs that reach nearly 60 feet high toward the base of Sugar Loaf Mountain. One kind of bedrock, granitic, that occurs here is the least common bedrock type along the Great Lakes shoreline, with less than eight miles occurring in total. This is one of three areas where the public can see these 2.3 billion year old formations in Michigan.

The proposed wilderness area is a local landmark, which has significant historical value. The island was reportedly connected to the mainland sometime prior to the 1930s and was a landing place for early explorers and native inhabitants.

This land has retained its natural character, and its location next to Lake Superior and its variable terrain and timber types provide a rare and unique setting in our state. With over four miles of captivating Lake Superior shoreline and opportunities for quiet and scenic recreation, the area is dear to the heart of local residents.