Trying to define the perfect U.P. weekend is like any other such endeavor: both engaging and elusive. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers something for every interest and every taste, so the good news is that while fixing on one perfect interpretation is impossible; finding a wide variety of activities and destinations to enjoy a relaxing or invigorating outing is only a short road trip away.
My favorite U.P. adventure always starts in Grand Marais. Tucked into a stretch of Lake Superior, the small hamlet at the east end of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, offers comfortable accommodations, and a perfect spot to launch your explorations.
Travel west out of Grand Marias along H-58 toward Munising, but stop first at the Grand Sable Dunes Natural Area, where you can hike part of the North Country Trail, visit the Log Slide Overlook, or walk out to Grand Sable Lighthouse.
You can drive all the way to Munising and beyond, or try some backcountry camping and hiking along the 42 miles of North Country Trail that parallels the lakeshore. The trail is narrow but mostly level ground, making for moderately difficult trekking with a minimum of climbing. If you plan to hike, be sure to check out campground availability to ensure comfortable and safe nights in your tent. Your hike will take you by Chapel Falls as well as Chapel Rock, so be sure to enjoy both stops.
At Munising, take the ferry to Grand Island to explore the largely uninhabited portion of the Hiawatha National Forest, where less than 10,000 people visit each year to enjoy the rustic atmosphere and secluded sandy beaches. Hiking is again the primary method of movement, so plan your day and your return accordingly.
Back on the mainland, and heading back east, beyond Grand Marais, you can visit the Two Hearted River and Whitefish Point, where bird watching is the best way to enjoy the lakeshore, and then it’s on to Tahquamenon Falls, maybe the Upper Peninsula’s most recognizable landmark.
These of course are only a few of the wonderful destinations to visit north of the Mackinac Bridge. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a great place to find adventure close by this summer season.