INDIAN RIVER, Michigan (Michigan Back Roads) – If you think about a megaphone at all, you probably conjure up an image of an old-time singer belting out Winchester Cathedral or the like.
There is a different kind of megaphone perched on a hillside in the forest of Northern Michigan. This one isn’t for projecting and amplifying sounds. It is for collecting faint sounds from the woodlands and amplifying those.
The megaphone in the forest is constructed of wood. It is big enough for two adults to crawl inside. In fact, that is exactly what you are supposed to do. It sits on an overlook beside a trail in the Agnes S. Andreae/Boyd B. Banwell Nature Preserve a few miles east of Indian River, Michigan. The megaphone is designed to be used by crawling inside.
Once you are inside, just lie still and remain quiet.
The Megaphone amplifies the sounds coming into the larger opening. After a few moments you may be aware of the forest in a whole new way. Some people say they don’t really notice the effect until they crawl back out of the megaphone. Then, they are instantly aware that it all seems much quieter outside rather than inside the megaphone. When you are back out of the megaphone, you’ll notice the change in the sound level almost instantly.
The walk to the megaphone from the parking area takes about 25 minutes. Even without the megaphone as a destination the walk is worth it, especially during the color tour season. The trail has a few hills and a nice walking bridge across the river. There are excellent signs with detailed maps all along the way. The trail is being improved but it was kind of rough when we were there in late 2022. There are minimal facilities in the off season.
Recommendation: If possible, visit the megaphone on a weekday to avoid crowd noise. It is best experienced in silence which may not be possible if there are a lot of people chatting away. In addition, this area is full of two tracks and old “snake” trails. These attract ORV and dirt bike enthusiasts, rather noisy. Quiet is what you want to fully enjoy this unique work of art.
Important Note: If you Google the location of the megaphone, you will find detailed instructions on which roads and two tracks to follow to find the trail to the megaphone. All the instructions we found turned out to be wildly inaccurate. Even following directions dictated by our onboard GPS proved to be wrong.
We ended up at least a half mile from the location of the megaphone on the wrong side of the Pigeon River with no trail to the site at all. Save yourself the hassle. Google up Agnes S. Andreae Nature Preserve and follow those directions. The trail leads from the parking area and is well marked.