Rifle River State Recreation Area of Ogemaw County, Michigan
Photos By: Dave Case
14 miles long with 2 loops up to 10 miles long.
From Rose City, drive east on F-28 (Rose City Road) about 5 miles to the site entrance on the right (south) side of the road.
Take I 75 to Exit 202 (Alger/Rose City) and go 20 miles N. on M-33 to Rose City. Go E. on Rose City Rd. (F-28) 4.5 miles.
2550 E. Rose City Rd.
P.O. Box 98
Lupton MI 48635-0098
Phone Number: (989) 473-2258
TTY/TDD711 (Michigan Relay Center)
Motor Vehicle Permit Required: Yes
Approximate Size: 4449 (Acres)
Make a Reservation at this Park
Cross Country Ski trail is not groomed.
Rifle River Recreation Area is a wilderness located within the AuSable State Forest and provides a variety of recreational opportunities. This area was formerly a private hunting and fishing retreat owned by the late H.M. Jewett, a pioneer auto manufacturer. In 1945 the tract, then called Grousehaven, was purchased by the Department of Conservation from Mrs. Jewett. The Department of Conservation renamed it the Rifle River Area and used it as a field laboratory for fish and game research. In 1963, the Parks Division acquired the area and it is now known as the Rifle River Recreation Area.
Water is a big attraction at Rifle River. There are more than ten miles of streams and river here, as well as 10 lakes and ponds. This site also showcases a wide variety of habitat types, including upland hardwood and pine forest, open grassland, lowland forest, cedar swamp, bog, marsh, and open water. Fourteen miles of hiking/biking trails begin at the campground; many of these trails are groomed for skiers.
Portions of this area are open to public hunting. Contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for hunting seasons and locations.
Ownership: Michigan Department of Natural Resources (989) 473-2258
Size: 4,500 acres
Closest Town: Rose City
Weather and Driving Directions for Rose City
Plan Your Trip with travel.michigan.org!
Excellent opportunity to view unique waterfowl at this site. The huge trumpeter swan, Michigan’s largest bird, may be seen on any of the lakes. Trumpeters were released here by the Department of Natural Resources as a part of a reintroduction program. Loons usually nest on Grebe Lake in the spring. Please view both of these rare birds from a distance and do not disturb them, especially during breeding season. A scenic overlook from the Lodge Hill will delight viewers with a bird’s eye view of the area. In May, the trail offers wonderful wildflower viewing. Look for Indian paintbrush, cardinal flower, several types of lady’s slippers, and others. Stop at the headquarters for maps and other information.
Facilities and Opportunities:
- Trails – 14 miles of easy to moderate trails; 1 mile is self-guided
- Picnic – Located at Grousehaven Lake. Playground equipment at three locations
- Camping – 175 sites at $15 per night. 99 primitive sites at $9 per night, none with hook-ups. Dirt or gravel pads.
- Bicycling – 14 miles of mountain bike trails–no paved trails
- Cross-country Skiing – One easy to moderate trail
- Boat Ramp – Four ramps located at Grousehaven Lake, Devoe Lake, Grebe Lake, and Lodge Lake. No motors allowed on any lake, including electric motors.
- Lodging – Five rustic cabins open year round
- Drinking Water – Located at various locations around the campgrounds and cabins
- Fishing – Bait located off-site nearby
- Hunting – 4,000 acres open to hunting. Archery allowed. No target shooting.
- Entry Fee - Michigan State Park Motor Vehicle Permit required for entry.
- Barrier-free – Rustic campgrounds and Scaup Cabin are barrier-free
- Michigan State Park Explorer Program - Learn more about the natural features and resources located in this park with the Outdoor Explorer Program.
- Hunting - The wilderness setting of Rifle River Recreation Area is ideal for those who enjoy hunting or trapping. Ruffed grouse, ducks, geese, turkey, woodcock, rabbits, squirrel, raccoon, fox and deer may be hunted during their respective seasons. Beaver, otter, mink and muskrat are in abundance and may be trapped. Regulations may be obtained at the park headquarters.
- Designated Watchable Wildlife Site - The Wildlife Viewing Guide is now on line at www.michigan.gov/miwildlifeviewing
- Playground - These play areas offer a variety of playground equipment for children.
- Fishing - For the fishing enthusiasts, ten scenic lakes offer all types of fishing. Bluegills, bass, northern pike, yellow perch and trout can be found in these lakes. Brook, brown and rainbow trout are present throughout the many miles of streams in the recreation area. Fisheries research is being conducted on Jewett Lake. This lake is closed to fishing without a permit which is available at park headquarters. All lakes are closed to boats with motors. Consult the Rifle River Fishing Guide for more information about which species can be found in the many lakes in the recreation area.
- Canoeing - Canoe launching sites are located in several places along the Rifle River in the park.
- Picnic Area - Picnic tables and fire pits/grills. Day use facilities with swimming beach and picnic areas are available to park visitors at Grousehaven Lake.
- Picnic Shelter(s) - Contact the park for reservations.
- Hiking - The 14 miles of pathways meandering throughout the park offer hiking, biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Numbered posts keyed to the map will help keep you oriented while on the pathways. There is an observation tower that gives sightseers a fantastic scenic view of the recreation area.
- Mountain Biking - The 14 miles of pathways meandering throughout the park offer hiking, biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Numbered posts keyed to the map will help keep you oriented while on the pathways. Biking is prohibited on the Pintail Pond Trail.
- Snowmobile Area - Allowed with 4" of snow or more on the ground. Snowmobiles are allowed, but a Michigan Trail Permit is required for each snowmobile.
- Boating Access Site/Launch - Access for boating and fishing. For the fishing enthusiasts, ten scenic lakes offer all types of fishing. Fisheries research is being conducted on Jewett Lake. This lake is closed to fishing without a permit which is available at park headquarters. All lakes are closed to boats with motors.
- Cross Country Ski - Trails are not groomed.
- Metal Detecting Areas - Metal detecting is recognized as a legitimate recreation activity when it is conducted in ways that do not damage the natural and cultural resources in Michigan State Parks nor violate applicable state statutes. If you wish to use a metal detector in this state park, here is a map that shows clearly where this activity may take place. Any items found must be reviewed by park staff and may be retained for further investigation.
- Fishing in the Parks - Learn more about fishing at Fishing in the Parks, a free educational program.
The AuSable River Scenic Byway is located 20 miles east of the Rifle River Recreation Area. Along this byway are many attractions, including Lumbermen's Monument Visitor Center and largo Springs.
Please check the DNR Calendar for upcoming events at this location and at all state parks and recreation areas.
Additional Information: Rifle River Recreation Area
Return to Ogemaw County, MI Trails Page
Permission and information sources are from Contributers to this Web Site, the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan.gov, National Park Service,
and the USDA Forest Service.