Hike atop 200 foot sand dunes overlooking miles of protected forest in the beautiful AuSable River Valley.

Lumberman’s Monument is truly a hidden gem. Most people don’t realize there are towering sand dunes in the Oscoda area. While the majority of visitors stay at the overlook, there is a breathtaking trail for the more adventurous.

The main parking for this trail is at the Lumberman’s Monument parking lot. Walk past the 14-foot bronze Lumberman statue, and you’ll come to the main overlook with 260 stairs that you can take all the way down the river. Instead (or after you check out the stairs), go right (northeast) and find the small trail closest to the river. You are now on the Highbanks Trail. After about 800 feet, you will start to hit sand. Suddenly, the trail opens up onto a massive sand dune 200 feet above the AuSable River. If you keep going on the trail, you will reach a second sand dune - and then a few more after that. Each dune face is unique and offers a different perspective to the river and forest below.

For the brave, run down a dune and take a dip in the pristine clear water. In the summertime, you might encounter a few other boaters having a party on the edges of the dunes. Just remember, the climb back up can be strenuous!

After the last dune vista, the trail turns inland, and you can continue another 1.5 miles in the forest to Sawmill Point campground, if desired. If you make it to Sawmill Point, this is 2.8 miles from where you began. Hike the same trail to get back to the parking lot.

Looking for an even longer hike? The Highbanks trail continues west past the initial overlook/stairs at the main parking lot. This trail travels 4 miles from Lumberman’s Monument to Iargo Springs hugging the river the entire way. While not as scenic as the sand dune vistas, this is still a phenomenal hiking trail. And Iargo Springs is definitely worth checking out.

For those with paddling resources, look for the public boat launch by Sawmill Point. This is a great place to put in for a picturesque paddle along the dunes. And since the river is dammed here, you can easily paddle both ways. 

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Swimsuit
  • Camera
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RT Distance 5.6 Miles
Activities Camping, Fishing, Photography, Running, Skiing, Swimming, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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