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A view of Lake Superior from Chapel area overlook.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park

The Porkies are a beautiful swath of virgin forest in the farthest northwest corner of Michigan. The mountains are a series of ridges that resemble a crouching porcupine from out on the lake, the tallest ridge falls short of mountaindom by forty feet. There is an observation tower on it that may or may not be forty feet tall.

The Porkies feature 90 miles of trails (23 of which are on the North Country Trail which stretches from New York to North Dakota) in 60,000 acres of virgin wilderness. The Park features backcountry camping, cabins and yurts, as well as car camping units. See spectacular views of Lake Superior and Lake in the Clouds, hike along wild rivers and falls, climb the only 'mountain' in Michigan.

Our favorite places in the Porkies include Lake of the Clouds and the Escarpment trail, Mirror Lake camp, and Presque Isle campground. Some of our adventures include setting up our tent under a bear scored tree (we moved it in the morning once we noticed what we hadn't seen the night before), listening all night to a howling wind and falling branches while the air at ground level was completely still, and ending our backcountry trip with a handful of dried blueberries as the only remaining food.

Places I've Been

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

We've made several trips to Pictured Rocks, it is fairly easy to get to, only 400 miles from Detroit. Famed for its multicolored sandstone cliffs, which are best seen by boat, the park also features 90 miles of trails in 73,000 acres, and 42 miles of Lake Superior shore frontage.

Some of our favorite places are Little Beaver Lake campground, Chapel Beach camp, 12 mile beach, and the Pine Bluff Trail which offers wild blueberries trailside in late August.

Whitefish Point - Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Learn about the perils of Great Lakes shipping, and why this spot is so particularly perilous. Learn about the origins of the Coast Guard in the U.S. Life Saving Service You have go out, you don't have to come back! What it took to man a lighthouse, patrol the coast, and save sailors on Lake Superior.

The museum houses the beautiful and intricate Fresnel Lens from the lighthouse, the tools of the Life Saving Service, and the Edmund Fitzgerald's bell in memorial.

Scott's Falls

Scott's Falls is dedicated to the family adventure of my childhood, and my first visit to the UP. A family vacation to see the beautiful fall colors of the Upper Peninsula and as many waterfalls as we could find.

The adventure included a long search for the elusive Scott's Falls. Prominent on the map, but in late September a mere trickle of water over a seven foot drop on the side of the road. It's often the difficulties of life that make the best stories.

Things Yet to Do

North Country Trail

The North Country Trail extends 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota, more than double the length of the Appalacian Trail. It hugs the shore of Lake Superior through much of the upper peninsula.

Hiking at least the Michigan portion, and at very least the UP portion, is on my bucket list. It gives me incentive to stay in shape until I can retire and take the time to enjoy it.

Isle Royale

Six hours by ferry north of the UP, in the western portion of Lake Superior, is Isle Royale. Accessible only by ferry or sea plane, the island is famous for its moose and wolves, canoing and kayaking.

It has two small concession stores, no medical facilities, and limited access to rangers. It is considered the remotest wilderness experience in Michigan.

Presque Isle River

circles carved into the bed of the river at Presque Isle