Visitor Information

Fred Russ Forest has a unique quality that combines forestry research and in a setting that is also conducive to forest recreation.

Visitors to the Forest range from researchers who come to work in the old growth forest stands to college students doing independent research projects. The Forest is also welcome to casual visitors whose interests include enjoying the natural area's old growth trees and wildflowers or who are enthused about forest management. It's also the perfect place for those searching for a shady spot to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Popular Forest visitor activities include hiking, picnicking, jogging, biking, horseback riding (bring your own horse), dog walking (on a leash), bow hunting, cross country skiing and trout fishing.

There are no alcoholic beverages allowed in the forest.


The Forest is accessible to the public via foot or by non-motor vehicles. Enter via the 12-acre Cass County Roadside park, which is open daily from daylight to dusk.

Cass County Park

The 12-acre roadside park is leased to the Cass County Parks Department. Amenities include parking, bathrooms, picnic tables, grills and several shelters that can be rented for special events by calling the Cass County Parks Department at 269- 445-8611. The Parks Department also maintains forest trails that are accessible to the public for use on foot or with non-motored vehicles.

Maple Syrup Production

The Marcellus School system leases forest property on which it maintains school buildings that house over 90 high-school-age students attending the Volinia Outreach School. In the year 2000, the school constructed a maple syrup production building to tap 10 acres of forest trees to make maple syrup. Plans are to conduct sugar bush tours during school hours. For more information call the Volinia Outreach School at 269-782-9716.


Bow hunting during deer season is allowed. There is hunting information at the forest office kiosk. Hunters are to sign in and out at the kiosk daily. Maps of the forest that indicate where hunting is permitted are displayed at the kiosk.

Fred Russ Forest Hunting and Policy and Permit Application

Natural Areas

The forest has 280 acres of MSU designated areas. Designations range from the strictest, where only walking on the paths is permitted, to areas where downed and damaged trees may be salvaged. Large, healthy mature trees are left to grow in all areas. Wildflowers are abundant in these areas. Picking or digging wildflowers is not permitted.

Of this 280 acres, 40 acres is designated as "National Nature Area" representing a virtually undisturbed mature oak-hickory forest. Another 160 acres was acquired with funds from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant program preserving large tracts of land for public use. The entire forest is open to the public with forest rules applying to all the forest land.

If you have questions, please call 269-731-4597.