When I was a kid we went to East Lansing, Michigan every summer to visit my maternal grandparents and my uncle’s family in Grand Ledge, or up to Boyne Falls and their farm there. However, we never went as far north as the UP (Upper Peninsula) so when Ed & I decided to go I was looking forward to it. We now have another addition for your MVL (Must Visit List) 🙂
Except for Wisconsin on the Southwestern border, the UP is surrounded entirely by water; Lake Superior to the North, the St. Mary’s River to the East and Lakes Michigan and Huron to the Southeast. All this water has a direct effect on the climate. Generally lovely in the summer, high 70’s low 80’s and often brutal in the winter with 200 plus inches of snow on average and records in the 390’s! it is not for the faint of heart. We are thrilled to say that for our visit we had good temperatures and a number of very pretty, sunny days….finally!
Wanting to stay with the Lake Superior Circle Tour we headed north up RT. 519 for the Porkies, more properly called Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. On the western tip, just into the Porkies, is the Presque Isle River scenic trail. Our first stop was the suspension bridge which is just a short distance up from where the river flows into Lake Superior.
The trail goes up either side of the Presque Isle River and we took the lovely, mostly boardwalk (but lots of steps) trail through the woods. With views of the three waterfalls that follow one another over about a half mile distance, we said yippee to the Sun after the morning fog and clouds!
Continuing west on the pretty South Boundary Road of the park we drove to the western edge at Union Bay Campground where we secured a spot before taking the road to Lake of the Clouds.
Waking to a still sunny day we drove out of the Porkies on RT64 along the coast of Superior to Ontonagon where we headed inland to get RT26 over to Houghton, on the south side of Portage River and Hancock, on the north side.
From here this northern tip is the Keweenaw Peninsula, where until about the mid-1960’s copper has been dug, melted and utilized for thousands of years. We did not explore the copper mine and museum this time but will on our next visit 🙂
From Hancock 41 and 26 separate but join back up further north, only to separate again. We stayed with 26 as it parallels the Lake Superior shoreline. We stopped at the little town of Eagle River
and then 3 miles up the road a stop at The Jam Pot operated by the monks of Poorrock Abbey, Holy Transfiguration Skete, a Byzantine Catholic Monastery which was a must do (put it on your MVL).
This area is along Great Sand Bay and indeed there are sand dunes along a good stretch of the road here.
There is also a steep stairway (88 steps) down to a beach that called Ed’s name.
The next town is Eagle Harbor where we stopped and did the lighthouse tour and had a lovely chat with Judy, a Keweenaw County Historical Society volunteer.
The road from Eagle Harbor to Copper Harbor is bumpy, twisty and narrowish, but very pretty. Copper Harbor is where Fort Wilkins is located and our campground for the night.
NOTE: For you fellow camper’s, we stayed many nights at State Parks as well as popping into State Parks for a day visit. Whether your stop is overnight or just for the day (or any part of) there is a $9 (out of state) fee. We highly recommend the yearly recreation pass at $32. It saved us a lot.
Copper Harbor is also the beginning of US 41 the road that allows Michiganers to flee winter for sunny warm Florida.
Heading back south we also took US 41 which runs down the interior of the peninsula. Even though it was rainy and foggy this is a beautiful drive. We planned to stop at Lake Linden Village Campground and recommend this municipal park. Although the State Recreational Pass does not help, it is only $25 a night. We also had fun watching Torch Lake come closer and closer the night we experienced what may be the heaviest rainstorm, complete with wind and amazing lightning, ever! 🙂