More about Paint River Camp
In the classic “To Know A River” one of the great fly fishing legends of the 30’s, Roderick Haig-Brown writes, “A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart.”
Michigan State University’s Paint River Camp is a trout fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation complex northwest of Iron River, MI, at the intersection of two major rivers, the Paint River, which is designated as both “Wild and Scenic” and a “Blue Ribbon Trout Stream”, and the Net River, which may not be designated for either but looks plenty Wild and Scenic to me and holds some big brookies.
The Paint holds browns and brooks at the property. Downstream it is one of Michigan’s top streams for smallmouth bass and holds large muskie, pike, and walleye. The Net has smallmouth, pike, and walleye plus big brookies if you know where to look. There is a small trout pond behind the caretaker’s home, which is fed by a large spring.
The Lodge was originally constructed in 1988 and was doubled in size in 2016. Inside walls are knotty pine, with maple floors. Three large bedrooms upstairs have private baths and two even larger bedrooms downstairs provide plenty of room to sleep up to a dozen of your family and friends in comfort. Room dimensions are in included in the “Additional Information” info below. In addition there is a caretaker’s residence, pole building, detached garage, generator building with two brand new generators installed last fall, and a handsome gazebo on the banks of the Paint — just the spot for getting out of the weather or relaxing by the stream.
This is high land: 35% hardwoods; 60% aspen, spruce and softwoods, with some openings, beaver ponds and creeks. The 700+/- acres has 9,200′ on the Paint River and 1,360′ on the Net, 2 miles of frontage on large rivers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The State of Michigan classifies eight streams in the Western U.P. as a “Blue Ribbon Trout Stream.” Near Paint River Camp large portions of the Paint River, Cooks Run, and the Iron River that runs through the nearby town of the same name carry this classification. A State website defines the “Blue Ribbon Trout Stream”
“A Blue Ribbon Trout Stream must meet certain standards or criteria. It must be one of Michigan’s best trout streams, be able to support excellent stocks of wild resident trout, have the physical characteristics to permit fly casting but be shallow enough to wade, produce diverse insect life and good fly hatches, have earned a reputation for providing an excellent (quality) trout fishing experience, and have excellent water quality.” The DNR Fisheries Biologist for this region tells me, “Cooks Run is one of the best trout streams we’ve got.”
He describes The Net River as a “string of pearls”: wide, deep, dark colored water with shallow narrows that allow canoes, but not power boats. He says further up the Net is a good trout stream and that the biggest brookie he ever caught came from there.
Five Western U.P. rivers are designated “Wild & Scenic”: The Black with 14 miles of reach, the Ontonagon with 170, the Paint with 52, the Presque Isle with 48, and the Sturgeon with 28. That’s 312 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers.
Whitetail deer, moose, black bear and timber wolves live here, as shown by the trail camera shots attached below that were taken on the property. There are a number of deer blinds and feed plots, and about 80 acres was recently planted with white pines. You’ll see otter, beaver, and mink along the rivers and in the wetlands, and wild turkeys, woodcock, and two species of grouse in the forest. Eagles patrol the rivers for an unwary fish too near the surface.
In the center of the property a mile long section of forest has been cut and will soon produce over two miles of aspen edges, ideal cover for grouse and woodcock, as well as cover and browse for whitetail deer. The young aspens are 12 to 15 feet in height and will soon provide outstanding grouse hunting.
Paint River Camp adjoins a million acre National Forest and vast State lands. Timber company lands in this area contain many more thousands of acres of forest used for timber production and available to the public for hunting, fishing, and general outdoor sports and recreation.
The 18-hole George Young Recreation Area is a public golf course that opened in 1984. It is about 35 minutes from the property. Designed by George Young, the course measures 7,041 yards from the longest tees. The course features three sets of tees for different skill levels. This is a popular destination golf course with a restaurant, banquet facilities, indoor swimming pool and pro shop.
The Website of the nearby City of Iron River, ten miles to the south, (20 by road) tells us, “The City enjoys a significant and growing influx of year round tourists who come to the area to ski, snowmobile, hunt, fish, hike, bike, and chiefly enjoy the natural beauty. Iron River has strong businesses, community anchors, and beautiful historic buildings.”
It continues, “The Iron River, which is a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream and flows through the City, the Apple Blossom Hiking Trail, the Iron County Historical Museum, and a general sense of history are just a few of the wonderful attributes of the City of Iron River. Iron River is a very welcoming community and invites you to visit us soon and even consider us for your future new home!”
In addition to the 700 acres offered here there is an adjoining 395 acres available from a different owner that would bring the total land area at Paint River Camp to 1,095.50+/- acres, an impressive 1.7 square miles. There are few private tracts of this size on major rivers in the U.P., and none that I know of with a Lodge of this quality and size.
The property is 10 miles north of Iron River; 7 miles west of Hwy 141; 15 miles north of the Wisconsin border. Iron River is about 13 miles west of Crystal Falls. It is 100 miles from Marquette, which has the regional airport and commercial service.
Hear now the voices of people who have come again and again to this special place and know it well:
“I bought the property in year 2000. I was in contact with the Acting Dean at Michigan State and the plan was to donate for an education and research facility. He was very excited. But another person was soon named as new Dean. After their review the Dean decided not to accept it for valid reasons. Too far from campus and too much resources to manage it and no need for forest land because of a small forestry research center near Escanaba. I said fine, I’ll keep it and enjoy for a few years. That was 17 years ago. The MSU Dean and I became good friends. He is now President of Cal Poly is California.
“Why am I giving up a place that provided so much pleasure to me, my friends and my two sons? I am too old to make good use of the property and I do not want it to end up in my estate. I own other land upstream on the Net River so my sons and friends have alternative for hunting and fishing and walking. But not on a par with the Paint property. Not even close!
‘We have really enjoyed the property. Wonderful Privacy. No close neighbors. Great diversity of wildlife, wildflowers and birds. Great hunting for deer, bear, turkeys and grouse. Fishing. But the part I am sad to give up is the fellowship that has gone on inside the lodge. And the lower level that was finished last year adds a great deal to the lodge.”
Gary Seevers, owner 2000 to Dec, 2016
“Our family has wondrous vivid memories of our visit to the Paint River Camp, and our sons will never forget it. Seeing our first wolf in the wild; seeing the claw marks of bears letting each other know they are there and who is taller and bigger; going fishing to catch bigger “real” fish our boys said—that resulted in the best fish dinner we’ve ever had; and getting lost and bushwhacking our way in the forest to find the rowboat for a ride on both the pristine Net and Paint rivers—what an adventure! True wilderness while at the same time a beautiful well-appointed lodge and showers that are as comfy (or maybe comfier) as home. What a special place.”
“As a frequent & fortunate guest at The Paint River Camp, I offer my reflections of the last 10 years.PRC is a wonderful home for as few as two & equally accommodating for many more. The Lodge is beautiful in all respects, including design, natural materials, furniture & infrastructure. The Lodge is in complete harmony with its surrounding wilderness.
The Camp is a special place for family & friends to celebrate & enhance their relationships and craft their own unique legacies, forever. As expected, one encounters wildlife in all forms, always. One day, alone in The Lodge about 2PM, a black bear appeared, remaining about two hours, eating corn, one kernel at a time, about 25 yards from my window. Eventually, ambling off, happy.
For the fortunate, The Paint River Camp provides an enlightened & enriched life experience.”
Gregory E. Bradbury
“Like Christmas to kids, for me there’s Paint River Camp and an annual wait to be with some of my favorite people for a week of deer hunting and camaraderie at one of the most beautiful places I know. During the year certain things cross your path that remind you Paint River is waiting. For me it’s a cool morning, shooting clays in July or seeing the giant block of spicy cheese at Costco that I only buy for that special week in November.
“Time is funny at Paint River. The days are wonderfully long and tiring; wake up, hunt, lunch, hunt, dinner & drinks, visit with great friends, crawl to bed…repeat. The days go by in a blink and much too soon you’re leaving the gravel road and you feel a pain inside as your tires touch pavement.
“There are challenges at Paint River too. Trying not to drive too fast into camp the day you arrive, lest you hit a big rock and get a flat tire during the last few miles of dirt road (ask my brother in law about that). Finding time to pause and get yourself to bull rapids or the gazebo to see the Paint river and to close your eyes and hear nothing but the water go by. To set up trail cameras and not go back too often even though it’s killing you to see what’s on there. Hard enough to go through pictures hoping the next one will be a nice buck but once you’ve seen wolves, moose, bear, bobcat and fox, it’s challenging to say the least not to visit your cameras too often.
“Without the people I suppose even Paint River Camp could be just a number of buildings. But if you are blessed enough to be invited to and experience Paint River Camp with the kind of wonderful people I’ve had the privilege to share it with over the years, then you too may feel that Paint River is to you as Christmas is to kids.”
Paint River Camp is one of a kind with a large, high quality lodge, two miles of frontage on large rivers, and more than a square mile of land. Additional adjacent land is available. The property is surrounded by a million acres of Federal forest in an area of vast wild lands, rivers and lakes.
Maybe it is your turn to learn the wonders of Paint River Camp. Think about what it might do for you.
Adjoining Property: 395 Acres Timberland