Monday, July 11, 2016

Sylvania Wilderness Canoe Camping on Clark Lake, July 2016

In the Sylvania Wilderness, blue skies, plentiful wildlife, and the relative lack of 4th of July crowds made the mosquitoes much more tolerable. After a wet Memorial Day in the Sylvania Wilderness, our dry Fourth of July weekend felt great - not a drop of rain, cool nights, and sunny days. Arriving on Saturday afternoon, we unloaded and paddled 2.5 miles (4 km) across Clark Lake to the Birch  campsite. Tucked away in a little bay, not too many paddlers ventured by and we enjoyed relative privacy despite the holiday weekend and a fairly busy scene at the put-in.

Located near Watersmeet in Upper Michigan on County Road 535, the Sylvania Wilderness provides a closer to home option for canoe tripping than the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) for those driving up from Southern Wisconsin and Illinois.  The portages tend to be shorter and less rugged than those found in the BWCA, and the campsites are fairly large given that the undergrowth is minimal. On the downside, the Sylvania Wilderness is relatively small (30 sq. miles) in comparison to the BWCA (1,703 sq. miles).

After getting camp set up, our daughter twisted her Daddy's arm for a swim despite the temperatures being a bit cool. On day two, we paddled over to a sand beach across Clark Lake for another swim. Our daughter also enjoyed climbing on a bent tree in camp. As far as campsites go, I enjoyed Birch. Like most of the paddle-up sites in the Sylvania Wilderness, the water can be seen from camp, and there is not much undergrowth.  These features makes the sites nice. I don't believe the sites in Sylvania suffer overuse, as I found plentiful fallen firewood for the weekend near the campsite. The drawback - sunrise and sunset cannot be seen from this campsite.

Ready to go at the landing.

Having fun looking for little fishies.

Love to swim.

Spending time sitting in the bent tree.

Good morning campers!

Being a good helper.

Birch campsite.

Driftwood along Clark Lake.

A swim at the sand beach across the lake.

Wildlife sightings always add enjoyment to canoe trips. I loved seeing and hearing loons throughout the weekend. We saw eagles several times, and as we paddled out, one circled overhead. This spectacular sight made it all the harder to leave. Frogs sang to us, and we saw plenty. We did startle a pair of deer that wandered into camp as we lounged around the fire-pit enjoying a lazy afternoon. We also managed to startle a snake that had become cozy nestled among our life jackets.

This little snake found hiding among our life jackets did not appreciate being disturbed.

Admiral butterfly on my sunhat.



Saw plenty of eagles over the weekend.
Proudly taking Mom's spot in the  canoe.

Girls paddle.

The bay at the Birch campsite.

Like all of our camping trips, it ended all to soon. If you head off to the Sylvania Wilderness, leave your worries at home and at the office. And don't forget your bug net and your camera, you'll see plenty of wildlife and many mosquitoes.

An easy 2.5 mile (4 km) paddle to camp.

Thanks for visiting, see you out there!

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