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Michigan Upper Peninsula trip


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We're planning to take a week this summer to drive the UP in a camper van, starting from western Michigan.  What do people recommend to do up there? We're generally more likely to do outdoor things than hit a brewery.

Early plans:

  • Tahquamenon Falls hike
  • Pictured Rocks kayaking
  • Marquette mountain biking (half the family, not sure what the other half does in Marquette for the day)
  • Copper Harbor mountain biking (half again)

We're also not sure if we'll drive back down across the bridge or maybe go down through Wisconsin and take the ferry.

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You're covering the key stops. North and East of the falls (driving north from Paradise) is a shipwreck museum that I believe is rather interesting.  My wife and I tried coming at it from a different direction and failed.  In that failure, though, we ended up driving from the falls to the pictured rocks area by taking 407/H-58 that generally hugs the Superior coast. Just as 407 transitions to H-58, there's a neat little pull-off spot right near the beach ...kind of nice to have that big lake almost to ourselves (except my wife was still freaking out over the dirt road and lack of civilization). 

Just outside/south of Munising is Wagner Falls, which is pretty cool.  Then again ...they've got waterfalls all over the area!  For a nice, casual meal, on the road curving around west/north of Munising is a pullover for Muldoons Pasties (kind of like a beef or chicken pot pie ...very tasty; very local).

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1 hour ago, tri-man 47 said:

You're covering the key stops. North and East of the falls (driving north from Paradise) is a shipwreck museum that I believe is rather interesting.  My wife and I tried coming at it from a different direction and failed.  In that failure, though, we ended up driving from the falls to the pictured rocks area by taking 407/H-58 that generally hugs the Superior coast. Just as 407 transitions to H-58, there's a neat little pull-off spot right near the beach ...kind of nice to have that big lake almost to ourselves (except my wife was still freaking out over the dirt road and lack of civilization). 

Just outside/south of Munising is Wagner Falls, which is pretty cool.  Then again ...they've got waterfalls all over the area!  For a nice, casual meal, on the road curving around west/north of Munising is a pullover for Muldoons Pasties (kind of like a beef or chicken pot pie ...very tasty; very local).

definitely eat pasties  :thumbup: 

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We were up by pictured rocks 4-5 years ago.  They had a jet boat trip you can take out on the lake to see them.  It was pretty fun, the "captain" was cool - take the offer to use the rain coat....We did the last trip of the day when the sun was setting, pretty nice.  Other than that we hiked to a lot of the little water falls which we enjoyed.   Also another trip we were up by porcupine mountains and hiked up by Lake of the Clouds and also another hike that had a bunch of little falls and then ended up by the Lake, can't remember the name of it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BX4GjHCAYDQ/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BX3Zv8uB--d/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BX3V_J0gUCV/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BX3a6Z5B59B/

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16 hours ago, Tick said:

We're planning to take a week this summer to drive the UP in a camper van, starting from western Michigan.  What do people recommend to do up there? We're generally more likely to do outdoor things than hit a brewery.

Early plans:

  • Tahquamenon Falls hike
  • Pictured Rocks kayaking
  • Marquette mountain biking (half the family, not sure what the other half does in Marquette for the day)
  • Copper Harbor mountain biking (half again)

We're also not sure if we'll drive back down across the bridge or maybe go down through Wisconsin and take the ferry.

Hi tick, I think @Moon is in the Marquette area. He may be able to give some ideas.

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I made a couple of mountain biking trips up there about 2013-2014 to hit Marquette and Copper Harbor (and half a day at Michigan Tech's trails one year). We were just really focused on the riding, though, and didn't do anything else.  Found a great Thai restaurant in Marquette and of course hit all the Copper Harbor spots between rides, but this will be more of a family trip with some mountain biking bits thrown in.

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2 hours ago, Rattle and Hum said:

We live in W MI. Wife missed a turn coming back from the UP. E Wisconsin was lovely that time of year.

taking the family to west Michigan in August (hopefully) :thumbup:  we love the beaches

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Recently moved to the UP. 

Would recommend the Shipwreck museum near Paradise. Chapel-Loop trail at the National Park near Munising, Beaver Lake loop at the Park (as part of hike you walk along the shore of Lake Superior). A couple of good museums in Marquette that deal with maritime and pioneer history.

Also Mackinac Island which sits next to the bridge is a great place to visit.

Several books focus on hiking and waterfalls in UP.

Good cajun restaurant in Marquette, Lagniappe.

Do not know much about Houghton area but people rave about biking there.

 

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On 3/28/2021 at 2:19 AM, Moonlight said:

Do not know much about Houghton area but people rave about biking there.

I've biked at the Michigan Tech trails in Houghton, the four south trails Marquette, and everything at Copper Harbor (other than the double-black diamonds - still have a scar from the one I tried).  My ranking is CH-Marquette-Tech, and I can't see anyone disagreeing.  Tech is a good trail, but more like something you can find in the lower peninsula.  Marquette and CH are a definite step or two above anything below the bridge.

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been considering a trip to Marquette for a while

wife told me that the father of a woman she works with who lives there just passed away so now we can't go

 

??? ??? ??? ??? ??? 

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On 3/27/2021 at 11:01 PM, FairWarning said:
On 3/27/2021 at 11:00 PM, mr. furley said:

booked in Holland, downtown

Holland is nice.

Grand Haven is better.

#hometownbias

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Despite living in west Michigan 31 years I have never  never taken this kind of trip. How many days to hit say Tahquamena Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Presque Isle, and Kitch-Iti-Kipi? Where to stay? Any good golf up there? Or just stick to natural beauty attractions?

I’ve been to the Soo Locks, Porcupine Mountains and Cooper Harbor/Keweenaw Peninsula. 

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34 minutes ago, BobbyLayne said:

Despite living in west Michigan 31 years I have never  never taken this kind of trip. How many days to hit say Tahquamena Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Presque Isle, and Kitch-Iti-Kipi? Where to stay? Any good golf up there? Or just stick to natural beauty attractions?

I’ve been to the Soo Locks, Porcupine Mountains and Cooper Harbor/Keweenaw Peninsula. 

To get the full effect of the natural beauty of these places I wouldn’t do any less than 4-5 days. A week would be awesome.

if you time it right, August 20-21 is the Blueberry Festival in Paradise , which is right on the way to Tahquamenon. It’s a great time. Also don’t miss Whitefish Point which is fairly close ( as UP distances between places of interest go). That’s at least one full day. It’s a great place to view freighters as well.

Munising and Pictured Rocks are not to be missed. To me, Pictured Rocks rivals the Grand Canyon in sheer natural beauty. This is another full day of activity. Lots of waterfall hikes in the area.

Kitch-iti-Kipi is a ways away from the northern and eastern portions of the UP. It is really cool though and I highly recommend visiting.

Presque Isle is in the northern LP, along the Lake Huron shoreline. Grand Lake is awesome for diving adventures and there are tons of great hiking areas in the area.

If it were me, I’d probably start with Presque Isle, cross the Bridge and ride through the beautiful Hwy 2 stretch along the lake to Kitch-iti-kipi. Then head north to Munising and close out the trip in the eastern UP with the Falls, Whitefish and Paradise. If traveling on east to the Soo, there’s an awesome little coffee shop we always hit in Brimley. Also a casino on the reservation.

Edited by BroncoFreak_2K3
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56 minutes ago, BobbyLayne said:

Grand Haven is better.

#hometownbias

we like Grand Haven plenty :thumbup:

when we were last there we soft-searched for summer homes/possible future retirement options. 

 

Edited by mr. furley
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1 hour ago, mr. furley said:

we like Grand Haven plenty :thumbup:

when we were last there we soft-searched for summer homes/possible future retirement options. 

 

I like all the communities around GH - West Olive, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Fruitport. Holland is fine as a vacation destination but I just prefer the vibe around the Tri-Cites (Ferrysburg, GH, SL.) 

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8 minutes ago, BobbyLayne said:

I like all the communities around GH - West Olive, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Fruitport. Holland is fine as a vacation destination but I just prefer the vibe around the Tri-Cites (Ferrysburg, GH, SL.) 

we've really spent most of our time between South Haven, Saugatuck, Holland and Grand Haven but interested in hearing more about the smaller surrounding towns.

haven't been to Zeeland or Douglas yet. nor New Buffalo or St Joe.

 

hadn't heard of the towns you mentioned. are they kid friendly? or are they more wineries and shopping for adults?

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20 minutes ago, mr. furley said:

we've really spent most of our time between South Haven, Saugatuck, Holland and Grand Haven but interested in hearing more about the smaller surrounding towns.

haven't been to Zeeland or Douglas yet. nor New Buffalo or St Joe.

 

hadn't heard of the towns you mentioned. are they kid friendly? or are they more wineries and shopping for adults?

Very family oriented IME; lived there 3.5 years and siblings have been there 37 and 33 years. Parents (divorced in the 70s) used to keep their cabin cruisers there in the 80s and 90s. I actually grew up in mid-Michigan but our family has been lakeshore centered since before I got out of the service in 1989.

In the late 60s and through the 70s we were weekend boaters via Saugatuck. Cousins still live in the area so I’ve continued to visit on occasion. Great community but obviously very different from Ottawa County.

I worked and golfed around St Joe, not my kind of town. Again I have a bias, though, bc I have so many good friends and family around the Ottawa County lakeshore. Vacationed and staycationed around GH twice (11 days and 5-6 weeks) so I feel very connected, would love to retire there.

ETA: my dad spent his last 28 years (1988-2016) north of Muskegon/south of White Lake. 100’ frontage on the big lake, high dune, 1400’ deep, all wooded. Different vibe but great if you value privacy. Also, easy to travel from; the only downside to the tri-cities is you have to leave I-96 and spend 9 miles on a two-lane state highway, which is a nightmare on weekends. Plus the freaking drawbridge between F/SL and GH if you mistime going up to the Lakes Mall where most of the big box stores are. NBD to me but my siblings hate going north lol.

Edited by BobbyLayne
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2 hours ago, BroncoFreak_2K3 said:

Agreed

Starting to wonder if I know some FBGs in real life without knowing it - everyone here is 46 years old, so there’s a decent chance my kids have played on sports teams with FBG kids.  Grand Haven’s pretty small, though I’m technically out in Robinsontucky.

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7 minutes ago, Tick said:

everyone here is 46 years old

this feels deadly accurate

like splitting an arrow with another arrow

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Loading the family truckster in August for a UP trek, so this thread is very timely.

I think the only reservations we have at this point are a few nights in Christmas and another in Eagle River, trying to remain flexible to spend more time in areas that we like.

Tahquamenon, Pictured Rocks, Porcupines and Upper Hand are on my list of places to visit... the family is determined to see a moose in the wild, so I might be drinking beers in the woods instead of the brewery though. 

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55 minutes ago, Tick said:

I’m technically out in Robinsontucky.

My brothers out that way, along the river. You’re a few years younger than my nephews, they graduated GHHS around 1995 and 1997. They’re well known builders/developers in the area.

Sister worked for corporate Meijer for 30+ years, now back at the store level but retiring soon. Brother used to manage a large marina but now does long haul RT trucking to Salinas CA - year away from retirement. Other sibling is retired, she’s the only one that stayed in our hometown (Montcalm County.)

My closest friends either attend or work for GH/SL Harvest BC.

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55 minutes ago, mr. furley said:
1 hour ago, Tick said:

everyone here is 46 years old

this feels deadly accurate

like splitting an arrow with another arrow

12 years older. But I went back to college when I was 29 so kind of have always felt we’re all in the same basic life cycles.

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1 hour ago, Tick said:

Starting to wonder if I know some FBGs in real life without knowing it - everyone here is 46 years old, so there’s a decent chance my kids have played on sports teams with FBG kids.  Grand Haven’s pretty small, though I’m technically out in Robinsontucky.

46?46? Speak for yourself, I’m a young 45. Grand haven was a fun time the one time we pulled in. Sucks the second year our boat didn’t go for grand havenfest, I wanted some more of those corn dogs. Having an American legion literally across the street made for a great starting and stopping spot. Fun times

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16 minutes ago, CGRdrJoe said:

46?46? Speak for yourself, I’m a young 45. Grand haven was a fun time the one time we pulled in. Sucks the second year our boat didn’t go for grand havenfest, I wanted some more of those corn dogs. Having an American legion literally across the street made for a great starting and stopping spot. Fun times

CG Festival is the worst & the best at the same time. Town is 10K in the winter, 60K in the summer, 300K the week of CG Festival. But it’s a blast if you’re within walking distance.

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56 minutes ago, BobbyLayne said:

CG Festival is the worst & the best at the same time. Town is 10K in the winter, 60K in the summer, 300K the week of CG Festival. But it’s a blast if you’re within walking distance.

we considered going during CG Fest after some locals talked up how bananas it gets. then we realized we have kids... and we're old and i'd rather people stay off my lawn,

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5 minutes ago, mr. furley said:

we considered going during CG Fest after some locals talked up how bananas it gets. then we realized we have kids... and we're old and i'd rather people stay off my lawn,

haha yeah plus the rentals are insane that week. I booked two weeks in August across the street from the state park at a fraction of the CGF rate.

also they used to have a really cool Kiting Festival weekend, like in May or early June. supposed to be pretty amazing and not nearly as zaney. not sure about pandemic times though.

Edited by BobbyLayne
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On 3/27/2021 at 9:29 PM, mr. furley said:

taking the family to west Michigan in August (hopefully) :thumbup:  we love the beaches

Not sure if you have ever done this or thought about it, but driving up the coast of lake Michigan is a lot of fun. 

We did the trip before we had a kid. Started in Saugatuk, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Ludington, and ending in Traverse City. Highly recommend especially if camping and can plan the trip early and get reservations at the state parks. A lot of them are right on the beach. 

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16 minutes ago, msudaisy26 said:

Not sure if you have ever done this or thought about it, but driving up the coast of lake Michigan is a lot of fun. 

We did the trip before we had a kid. Started in Saugatuk, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Ludington, and ending in Traverse City. Highly recommend especially if camping and can plan the trip early and get reservations at the state parks. A lot of them are right on the beach. 

we've only ever been as far north as Muskegon.

giving consideration to taking the northern route through the UP and down this time. 

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On 3/28/2021 at 9:32 AM, Brony said:

Pastie is pronounced past-ee. 

Depends on what kind of place you’re at. 

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  • 1 month later...

Okay, I booked the trip July 5-9.

  • July 5: Drive up, hit Tahquamenon, end in Munising.
  • July 6: Munising: Kayak Pictured Rocks, drive to Marquette*
  • July 7: Marquette: Boys mountain bike, girls hike, eat at the Cajun restaurant, drive to Copper Harbor*
  • July 8: Copper Harbor: Boys mountain bike, girls wander the town and maybe kayak
  • July 9: Copper Harbor: Drive home (get Thai for lunch in Marquette)

*If weather is bad for kayaking on July 6, swap these days and hope for better weather July 7th.

 

At Marquette, we can ride the blue trail, eat a trail lunch, then ride the yellow trail.  I'm not sure I'm still able to do both those rides in a day, but I'm ramping up my riding.

At Copper Harbor, I planned out a route where we get dropped off at the top in the morning, end up in town for lunch with the girls, get another ride to the top after lunch, ride down on a quick route, get another ride up, and end up back in town at the end of the day.  I think we can hit almost all the trails in one day that way without having to bike up the mountain at all, and while minimizing the impact on the girls' day to the morning and the first hour after lunch.

 

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