With so many opportunities to follow friends around online, how will you ever know where to start first?
When you dig into the Michigan countryside and this water wonderland, you’ll find a wide variety of treasures that are all encompasing and awe inspiring. Across the Upper Peninsula leading up to Lake Superior, there are miles and miles of roads through the woods. When we got to the wedding, my Aunt’s asked if I’d ever seen so many trees. In the middle off all that lush green forest, sits a rushing copper colored river and the second largest volume falls in the Eastern United States, the Tahquamenon falls.
The falls are beautiful with tons of pounds of water gushing over the cliff every second of the day. The water color varies but is mostly copper brown and gold shades. (What a great contrast to the crystal clear sky blue colors of Lake Superior.) I read on a sign at the park that the coloration of the water in the falls is due to tannis from the surrounding cedar trees. When we visited the falls, the DNR personnel were very friendly and knowledgable about the river and surrounding areas.
I remember when I visited the park as a child a dirt parking lot connected to a nice set of trails, stairs and boardwalk viewing platforms. It was nice, but not the bustling park that we encountered this past June. When we arrived, I noticed the newly paved parking lot along with a paved trail system. Sitting just off the “State” land is the expansive “Camp 33” which houses a restaurant, brewery, snacks stand, along with a t-shirt shop. After hiking around sweating and swatting at the flies, we both thought a nice beet was a handsome reward. It’s quite a bit overgrown in comparison to my memory… However, the falls are still the same size.
If you have a chance, please make sure you book enough time to also visit the section called the Lower Tahquamenon Falls where you can dip your toes in the water if it’s hot enough.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an amazing free public park located in Michgan’s Upper Peninsula on the Lake Superior shores. Every place we went we drove and hiked for free! Each area of the park we visted had plenty of parking, bathrooms (most with running water), and even drinking fountains. Many of the parks that sat along the lakeshore had picnic tables, fire pits and also small charcoal grills. We could have easily set up a small picnic for the day and grilled out at the beach as opposed to paying to eat at that restaurant. (I should have read the reviews.)
When we were in Munising, we stopped at this little kitschy joint to have a bite to eat called the Dogpatch. From the outside it looked a little cutesy, but I thought it had potential. Inside was a bored unfriendly waitress and an equally lackluster serve yourself soup and salad bar. The salad fixings were appropriately fresh though. The sandwich menu descriptions required more imagination to write than concocting the actual ingredients for the sandwich. Either way, it was a satisfactory simple meal. Nothing to write home about.
We continued on M-58 until we reached Miners Castle Road. There we turned in and stopped to take a picture at the parks enterence. It’s something that typical tourists do and we can’t resist when we’re out and about. 🙂
First place we went was to the very end of the road where the actual famed Castle Rock point juts out over Lake Superior. The different colors blue and green of the fresh lakewater and the layers of different minerals that make up the browns in the cliffs are amazing.
From the peaks of Castle Rock, we could actually see the creamy off white sands of Miner’s Beach. After exploring the trails near Castle Rock we drove down to Miner’s Beach on the road – If we had more time, we could have hiked the trail down. The beach sand is soft and creamy, yellowish white. It has pretty big grains and the edges of the water in some areas are covered in fine ground colorful little stones. Reds, whites, black, blue, pink and even green can be found in the small gems long the watershed.
After spending enough time realizing that Lake Superior is just a bit too icey cold for me to swim in these days. We got back in the car and drove over to the Miner’s Falls. There’s about a 1/2 mile hike into the woods to get to the falls. The hike is nice and marked by several identifiers that match a map of the area showing local fauna and flora. Once we got to the falls, the mosquitos had the better of us. We only took a couple photos and hightailed it back out to the trailhead and our car.
Later in this Pure Michigan inspired blog series I’ll talk about the hike along the beach between Hurricaine River and the Au Sable Lighthouse.
I’m feeling pretty spoiled these days. When I grew up in Michigan my favorite time of year was summer. Specifically, June, July, August and even September. When I was a child, we would spend any warm, sunny days at the lake, camping, hanging around outside or enjoying a nice hike. There are plenty of State Parks and beautiful beaches all across our state. The end all be all warm weather activity is swimming. I liken myself to a fish and require a great deal of interaction with water for sustainability. I actually prefer the fresh, unsalted water… but as you may have already noted in previous posts, I will swim in almost anything.
Ever since I started the cruise ship job, we have been missing out a bit on the whole summer party action at home. Not complaining about all of the wonderful locations we have been visiting. I just miss summertime in Michigan. This year, we had two different weddings in our families in June. We requested vacation during the summer to attend. Now, we are so excited to have the summer at home in Michigan.
First we made plans and picked some key destinations. It helps that my family, friends or relatives are located on each of the Great Lakes. We knew it would be so nice to be on the water. I was particularly excited because one wedding took us to Cleveland sitting on Lake Erie and the other took place in Marquette on Lake Superior.
One of my families absolute favorite places to spend time in the summer is the Upper Peninsula. It’s pretty sparce, but breath-takingly beautiful. Jake read somewhere that the UP holds 1/3 of Michigan’s population, which is around 10MM so they have about 300K residents. Trust me, they have way more trees than people… Similar to the problem the folks in New Zealand have with their sheep.
We spent Friday in the car driving the 8+ hour drive from Royal Oak (near Detroit) all the way North on I-75, across the Mackinac Bridge, over West and North again to finally arrive at our destination of Marquette, Michigan on the Southern shores of Lake Superior.
I remember camping in the Porcupine Mountains, near Pictured Rocks, somewhere on the Two-Heart River and also off the very Eastern tip of the UP coast. Each place holds some natural wonder, a beautiful sandy or rocky beach, cliffs overlooking vast expanses of clear blue water. Since we were heading up to Marquette, I decided we should spend an extra day or so jaunting around to some of the old family haunts. I know it would make my Great Grandma Paul proud to see me visiting my roots and getting in touch with my inner ten year old.