South Manitou Sights

Giant Cedar Trees

Tucked away on the southwest corner of South Manitou Island is a grove of virgin White Cedar trees, considered the largest and oldest in North America. One of the fallen trees showed 528 growth rings, dating its existence back to before Columbus. These trees are over twice as large as the aIMG_2726.JPGverage White Cedar. The trail loops through this area, so you can get a good appreciation for the size and number of these trees. It is a mystical walk. Some say that these trees were spared because their bark is infused with wind-blown sand, and the lumbermen in the 1830s did not want to continually resharpen their handsaws. This hike is about 0.5 mile beyond the turn-off to the shipwreck of the Francisco Morazan. Available on a wagon tour route.

shipwreck closeWreck of the Francisco Morazan

In November 1960, the Liberian cargo ship, the Francisco Morazan left Chicago despite worsening weather conditions. It ran aground about 300 feet off the southwest coast of South Manitou Island. Today, the ship sits with her hull above the water to make for an incredible view from the bluff. Available on a wagon tour route.

Perched Sand Dduneunes

The highest point on the perched sand dunes, which spread across the western edge of the island, is most easily reached just beyond the shipwreck trail. The Top of the Island, where hikers can see a 360 degree view of the island, is 306 feet above water level.




The lighthouse, located on the southeastern end of the island, is the third attempt at a lasting lighthouse on South Manitou Island. It was built in 1871 with a third order Fresnel lens, stands 100 feet above the water, and its light can be seen for 18 miles. It was active from 1871-1958, and was then relit as a solar powered automated light in 2009. The National Park Service offers free lighthouse tours, where visitors are able to climb the 117 steps up to the top and walk out on the catwalk.

Florence Laketadpoles

The only inland lake on the island, Florence Lake is inhabited by a multitude of wildlife. Toads, snakes, turtles, birds, and fish call this lake their home. Fishing is permitted in Florence Lake, but only with artificial lures. A State of Michigan fishing license is required.


One Room Schoolhouse

The one-room schoolhouse is located directly in the center of the island, so that no child would have to walk much further than the next. It was built in 1898, where it provided education to kindergarten – 8th grade until the mid-1900s. It has been restored by the National Park Service, and is open to visitors ONLY ON THE WAGON TOUR.

August Beck Farm

The August Beck Farm, c. 1860, is located on the historic farm loop trail. Its buildings include the main farmhouse, an outdoor kitchen, an icehouse, and a very unique open barn built with a split white cedar foundation. The farmhouse is open to visitors ONLY ON THE WAGON TOUR.IMG_4160IMG_4159


George Conrad Hutzler Farm

The George Conrad Hutzler Farm, c. 1860, is also located on the historic farm loop trail. The Hutzler Family contributed to slowing the downfall of the island through their rye crop. The “Rosen Rye,” developed by Joseph Rosen at Michigan Agricultural College, (now known as MSU), was grown on the isolated island in order to avoid cross-pollination of the rye that Rosen proclaimed would yield three times as much as any other. The Hutzlers won many awards for their rye production. Available on a wagon tour route.