Peshekee Headwaters Preserve

Peshekee Headwaters Preserve

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the “Stay Safe, Stay at Home” Executive Order, the Peshkee Headwaters Preserve is closed to the public until further notice in the interest of public health and safety. The snowmobile trail/Nelegan Lake Road operated by the DNR is no longer being groomed and the trailhead is therefore inaccessible.

We encourage our community to recreate responsibly in less remote locations closer to their homes in order to reduce risk and promote health and safety during these times.


Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy and the Michigan DNR have signed an agreement authorizing the creation of a partnership trail that will connect Craig Lake State Park to the Indian Lake Watershed Preserves!

The partnership trail opens up the Preserve to visitors of Craig Lake State Park and provides further adventures for the public to access within the Michigamme Highlands, an area of top priority for multiple conservation partners. In Spring 2020, UPLC volunteers and staff will finish building a 1.5 mile long trail that will connect the Preserve’s 5+ miles of completed trails to the Keewaydin Lake Road near the DNR yurt. We are planning a small parking lot and trailhead kiosk as well as about a half mile of wilderness trail through stunning topography in Craig Lake State Park. The total trail from the proposed parking lot to the lake will be about a mile and a half, including a 100-foot section of boardwalk.

If you’re interested in supporting the partnership trail or want to lend a hand building the trail, please contact Brian Liesch, Lands Program Manager at (906)225-8067 ext 107 or

The sign on a tree in Craig Lake State Park says “Coming Soon! Partnership Trailhead: Trail to Indian Lake Watershed Preserve to be completed in Spring 202” The rest of the sign details the partnership and the plans for the trail as well as rules of the preserve.

Indian Lake Watershed Preserve

We are all downstream.

“The way we treat rivers reflects the way we treat each other” – Aldo Leopold

Indian Lake Conservation Preserve Protects the Headwaters of the Peshekee River

Indian Lake is the source of an amazing amount of freshwater that thousands of people depend on for recreation, clean water to drink, healthy fish to eat, and that supports the healthy forest ecosystems which are imperative to our economic and social health. Thanks to the Murphy Family’s donation of these pristine backcountry preserves, these wild areas will continue to perform the task that Mother Nature gave them: they act as a filter to purify the groundwater as it gains momentum and flows on its way to our homes and backyards.

Rainwater, snow melt and ground water drains from the surrounding highlands and pools up in the boggy wetlands to the southwest of Indian Lake where it is naturally filtered before spilling out of the lake into the Peshekee River. The Peshekee flows into Lake Michigamme, into the Michigamme River, becomes part of the Menominee River and then finally empties into Lake Michigan.

Can you imagine being a drop of water flowing all the way from the Preserve into someone’s glass of tap water in Southern Michigan?

There are so many people and so much happening between the headwaters of the River and the southern tip of Lake Michigan – protecting the headwaters protects everyone downstream.


“To track a creek or a river to the point where maps identify its origin is to force a consideration of beginnings, to wonder what a beginning is, to wonder what point separates existence from that entity which comes before existence.”

– Josh Brewer

The Indian Lake Preserve has long been a place of refuge for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. This sanctuary from the troubles of the modern world is a testament to the lasting strength and resiliency of nature, despite man’s best attempts to control and shape it. The Indian Lake Watershed Preserve project was started in 2014 with a donation of 635 acres from the Murphy Family. With two subsequent donations in the watershed, UP Land Conservancy now protects nearly 90% of the watershed of Indian Lake. The watershed preserve is now 1,297 acres of pristine, archetypal Michigamme Highlands wilderness whose incredibly diverse habitat ranges from steep-sloped old growth hemlock forest to the island-dotted eutrophic lake. This marvelously beautiful place is home to a healthy moose population, black bear, eagles, nesting loons and wolves; and during 2017’s Botanical Survey, we recorded the first occurrence of the carnivorous plant English Sundew (Drosera Anglica) in Marquette County on the lake!

Visiting Indian Lake Preserve

After years of work, UPLC and Michigan’s DNR signed an agreement in summer 2019 to authorize the building of a trail connecting the Watershed Preserve and Craig Lake State Park! UPLC has been building the trail from our side all year and we plan to make the connection in Spring 2020. Until then, you may also be able to walk in from the Peshekee Grade, a 3.5-mile trip along a road easement. Please contact UPLC for details and an access map by calling (906)225-8067 or emailing before taking this route. We are happy to provide accommodations to access the Preserve from this route as we are able, however the roads are not maintained year round.

UPLC runs open-to-the-public guided trips to Indian Lake Watershed Preserves multiple times per year.   If you’d like to join on one of the guided trips, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and check out the events page  on this website for upcoming trips. 

Respect our Neighbors, Respect the Wild

Accessing and recreating at Indian Lake Conservation Preserve is an adventure straight out of an old Hemmingway story.  Please contact UPLC for a map of the walking route to the Preserve from the Peshekee Grade near the town of Michigamme. Please respect our neighbors if  you decide to walk the road to the Preserve! If you need a specific idea of what that looks like: stay on the road and do not leave any trace of your crossing; be respectful about the photos you choose to take of others’ property. Interact nicely with our neighbors! Do not bring your pets either across our neighbor’s roads or into the Preserve. Preserve boundaries are clearly marked, do not trespass onto our neighbor’s lands. No wheels or motors except with a UPLC host to open locked gates for you–that includes bicycles.

While visiting the Preserve, it is important to remember that we are protecting this area for its pristine wilderness values and the many benefits that intact wilderness brings to our lives.

Indian Lake and the nearby Murphy Family Preserve require that visitors be able to travel savvy through wilderness areas and we highly recommend bringing a map and compass along with a working knowledge of these tools. You may not have cell service in or around the Preserve (though it is increasing every year), so be sure to have a contingency plan in place. Trails are a work in progress and may not be clearly marked or completed at this time (though that is in the work plan to be completed as soon as possible! You can donate to support trail building here). Hunting is not allowed on the preserves, nor is overnight camping or fires. Please call the UPLC for a full list of permissible activities and for a detailed map. UPLC is not responsible for anything that may happen while you travel in the wild.

Please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principals during your stay.

Protecting wilderness areas like Indian Lake is up to you. 

Click here to be a part of the permanent protection of Indian Lake today, and help us protect properties like it across the Upper Peninsula.

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.” – Jules Renard