Au Sable River
The Au Sable River is located in Crawford County, Michigan.
The AuSable has a drainage basin of 1,932 square miles (5,000km2) and an average flow of 1,100 ft3/S (31m3S) at its mouth. The river drops 650 feet from its source at the junction of Kolka and Bradford Creeks.
The main stream of the river is formed at 44*48’21″N84*45’29″W1 in Frederic Township in Crawford County by the confluence of Kolka and Bradford Creeks, which both rise in Otsego County. The river flows south then turns east through Grayling, where it is joined by the East Branch AuSable River. The East Branch rises in Lovells Township, Crawford County at 44*49’46″N84*35’59″W.8
The AuSable continues eastward and is joined by the South Branch AuSable River at 44*39’23″N84*28’06:W in South Branch Township. The South Branch rises out of Lake St. Helen in Richfield Township, Roscommon County at 44*22’54″N84*26’38″W9 and flows northwest into Roscommon then northeast to the main branch of the AuSable. The North Branch AuSable River joins within approximately 5 miles (8.0km) in easter Crawford County at 44*40’14″N84*22’51W near the boundary with Oscoda county. The North Branch rises in Bagley Township. Otsego County, near Lake Otsego 10
The AuSable then flows mostly east through Oscoda County, then south and east through Alcona County and Iosco County. The river’s watershed also drains portions of Montmorency County and Ogemaw County.
Most of the main branch of the AuSable flows through or adjacent to the Huron-Manistee National Forest. 23 miles (37km) of the river, from the Mio Pond downstream to the Alcona Pond, was designated as a National Wild and Scenic River on October 4, 1984. The watershed provides habitat for bald eagles and the endangered Kirtland’s warbler. Five percent of the land in the watershed is National Forest and 29 % is state forest.
It is a designated trout stream, and many canoe liveries exist along the river, which offer canoe trips from a few hours to as long as a week. The river was originally a grayling fishery with brook trout being released in the 1880’s. By 1908 the grayling were gone although they were introduced in 1987. (See Grayling, Michigan for more information on the Grayling and the fish hatchery.) Brown trout is the current main catch. The Lumberman’s Monument in honor of the lumberjacks that first populated the area, is located on the river about 15 miles (24kim)west of Oscoda. Lumbering along the river began in the 1860’s and was finished by the 1910s.
The AuSable River is also the site of a yearly 120-mile(190 km) pro-am canoe race, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, which begins at 9:00p.m. and runs through the night into the next day. Winning times have ranged from 14 to 21 hours. The race was first run in 1947.
River Road, running parallel with the AuSable River, is a designated National Scenic Byway.
There are six hydro-electric power plants in the AuSable River basin, with a total installed capacity of 41 MW and an average annual energy output of 500 GJ. The six reservoirs were constructed between 1911 and 1924.
The AuSable has about 350 miles (560 km) of tributary streams including the Pine River.
Along the AuSable River there are many places to stop. Some of the most common places to stop are Comins Flatts and McKinley. The most common place to start a trip along the river is in Grayling. The have many places to rent canoes.
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