Exploring Our Backyard-Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is truly an adventure wonderland! When you’ve lived in one state your whole life, it can be difficult to see the beauty and wonder of where you live. I’ve been to a few of the hotspots in Michigan (I live in one of the most popular), but haven’t done as much exploring of our beautiful state as I would like. Last year my siblings and I did a quick weekend trip to the Upper Peninsula to check off some bucket list items, explore, and relax.

I’ve been to the UP several times, mostly to one area to visit my grandparents. My siblings have done more exploring of the UP than I have, but there are still sights that we all haven’t seen. On this trip we decided to hit up Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls, and Pictured Rocks. We also decided to go Labor Day weekend, which is well-known for being a very busy time to go north.

Day 1: Mackinac Island

We took off Friday and headed north early. Our aim was to explore Mackinac Island on our way up to our campsite. My sister and I had been to Mackinac Island before, but my brother had never been. It was a gorgeous day for exploring the island. Sunny and in the mid 60s to low 70s in the sun. The coolest activity in our opinion is biking around the island. It’s so relaxing and picturesque. Highly recommend if you plan on visiting. We decided to bring our own bikes and ferry them across so we would be more comfortable on them. It’s well worth the extra cost on the ferry in my opinion as many of the bikes to rent are cheap one-speed cruisers.

We made the loop, stopping a few times to just admire the scenery, climbed the stairs to the Arch, and then walked around town for a bit exploring some of the shops. At one of the shops, we did one of the most touristy things you could do and bought matching t-shirts, but we love it! After that, we had ice cream and then an amazing dinner at Millie’s on Main. Their Truffle Blue Cheese Fries are to DIE for! I also highly recommend their Neptune’s Pasta.

After our trip to the island, we continued on for another 2 hours to Muskallonge Lake State Park. This campground is sandwiched right between Lake Superior and Muskallonge Lake and is pretty much 45 minutes to an hour away from everything. We set up camp in the dark ready to explore everything in the morning.

Day 2: Tahquamenon Falls

After breakfast we did a little exploring around the campground and of Lake Superior across the street before heading out to Tahquamenon Falls. It had been a long time since I had been to Tahquamenon and was excited to explore. It was much hotter that day and perfect for getting wet! We went to the Upper falls first and had a look around, but then quickly headed to the lower falls to splash around! It was so refreshing and fun to get wet and play around in the falls. The Upper falls are magnificent to see, but the real fun is at the lower falls in the summer when you can wade in or sit in them.


Day 3: Pictured Rocks

The next day was for seeing Pictured Rocks. We set off before lunch since we knew we wanted to spend quite a bit of time in the Munising area. I had never been to Pictured Rocks but it was a bucket list item for me. We decided to do a 1 mile hike to Bridalveil Falls overlook. When we got to the parking lot, it was filled and overflowing into the next lot. We fortunately found a spot to park before it was absolutely full. After a quick lunch we went and saw Castle Rock from the overlook and then started our hike.

The North Country Trail runs through Pictured Rocks National Park, so I can officially say that I’ve hiked part of it. For the most part the trail is flat minus a steep incline at the start. It was beautifully green in the woods and so peaceful. Because it is the NCT, there are spots to “pull off” for camping if you’re a backpacker. It was unfortunately the dry season so there wasn’t any waterfall when we got to our spot, but it was still beautiful! The color of Lake Superior up there is just unreal! After hiking back, we decided to take a dip in Lake Superior to cool off, which was quite refreshing! Of course I did a little bit of rock hunting too. We then headed back into Munising for dinner at Captain Ron’s. My brother had seen him highlighted on an episode with Gordon Ramsey and wanted to try out his fish. We got the whitefish and lake trout. The whitefish was our overall favorite. The next day was spent driving home in the chaos that is holiday traffic.

Michigan really is a beautiful and unique state. There’s a reason thousands of tourists come here every year to experience our state. I often feel like I’m just scratching the surface of all the natural wonders here and feel like there is still so much to see! This weekend trip just proved that sometimes the best adventures can be had close to home.

Katy Wolffis


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