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U.S. Forest Service

Eastern Region Viewing Area


Map of the Grand Island NRA. West Unit of the Hiawatha National Forest. The Grand Island NRA is located in Lake Superior, one half mile from the mainland community of Munising, Michigan.

Monarch butterfly larvae. Monarch larvae feeding on common milkweed. First native plantings at the old farm field occurred summer of 2008. By 2010 more than 500 monarch larvae were counted in one afternoon on the first transplanting. Photo by Deb Le Blanc.

Jack-in-the-pulpit. Female monarch nectaring on tickseed in Grand Island’s farm field restoration site.

Grand Island’s farm field summer 2008 before restoration planting. Grand Island’s farm field summer 2008 before restoration planting.

Jack-in-the-pulpit. This is the same area as above, the Grand Island’s farm field, in the summer of 2010 after native plant restoration.  Since 2008, more than 77,000 native wildflowers were planted at the farm field. All the native plants were raised at the Forest greenhouse from seed harvested off the Hiawatha National Forest.

Grand Island National Recreation Area Old Farm Field

Forest: Hiawatha National Forest

District: Munising Ranger District

Description: The Grand Island National Recreation Area (NRA) provides visitors an opportunity to travel through a variety of native plant communities. These are all highly influenced by Lake Superior that creates a lush, moist environment. You will see rich mesic northern hardwood forests, rich conifer swamps, Great Lakes beaches with a unique dune-swale ecosystem, a tombolo, marshes, and an old farm field.

Grand Island’s old farm field provides an opportunity to view native plant restoration in progress. By reintroducing native plants back into the Island’s landscape and we are providing critical habitat for pollinators and other wildlife species such as black bear. Scientific monitoring research is being conducted at the farm field site through a partnership between Northern Research and Hiawatha National Forest in order to understand and develop best methods for restoring habitats impacted by non-native invasive plant species.

Wildflower Viewing: Peak blooming time at the old farm field occurs from late June through August. Native plants were transplanted in large clumps, thus, providing unique color patterns across the farm field. Footpaths were incorporated into the farm field restoration so visitors could walk among the wildflowers. At peak bloom you will see tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia serotina), bee balm (Monarda fistulosa), evening primrose (Oneothera biennis), pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), smooth aster (Aster laevis), coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), false sunflower (Helianthus helianthoides), verbain (Verbena hastate), columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) and common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

In addition to wildflower species reintroduced back into the farm field landscape, you will also find raspberry, ostrich fern, strawberry, fringe brome and bottlebrush grass. All of which were either rescue plants or native plugs rose at the Forest greenhouse. If you walk or bike the center road to reach this Island wildflower viewing site you will travel through rich northern hardwoods. Each spring these woods are a plethora of spring ephemerals. Providing visitors and opportunity to view species such as: spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), cutleaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata), toothwort (Dentaria diphylla), trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), nodding trillium (T. cernuum), Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis), and Canada violet (Viola canadensis).

Safety First: Because of Grand Island’s location and weather influences created by Lake Superior it is always good to be prepared for rapid changes in weather. Lake Superior thunderstorms develop rapidly and often without warning. The native wildflower restoration site at the old farm field has trails interwoven throughout the 5-acre opening so visitors can walk among the native plants in order to view pollinators. Because bees often occur here it is important to be cognizant of their presence. The restoration site is in full sun. However, island visitors can view the native wildflowers while sitting on handmade benches located adjacent to the gardens under a small group of paper birch trees. Bring plenty of insect repellant, sunscreen and drinking water.

Directions: Grand Island is located in Lake Superior, one half mile from the mainland community of Munising, Michigan in the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Munising is about 43 miles east of Marquette and 55 miles northwest of Manistique. Grand Island’s old farm field restoration site is located off the "center road", one mile north of Williams Landing (see map).

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Hiawatha National Forest, Grand Island National Recreation Area, Munising Ranger District.

Closest Town: Munising, Michigan.