The Eastern Upper Peninsula
After crossing Mackinac Bridge from the south, the first stop is St. Ignace, a former fur-trading town that now offers a variety of attractions, from an Ojibwa history museum to a casino. Via I-75, the eastern U.P.’s largest city, Sault Ste. Marie, lies only 50 miles north. Here, travelers will find a unique maritime attraction: the Soo Locks, an engineering marvel that has allowed safe passage between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes for more than 150 years.
Those seeking a more untamed landscape should head west, where over a million acres of protected state and federal land—including the enormous Hiawatha National Forest (www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/hiawatha)—await. From the highway, many of these coniferous woods look the same—the “real” peninsula is accessible via more challenging routes. Of course, the difficulty of reaching such breathtaking places is part of the reward. Every season, adventure seekers are lured to these remote forests and wetlands to share the open space with native deer, foxes, black bears, and bald eagles—the true “locals” of these parts.
The peninsula’s wild interior, once depleted by the 19th-century logging industry, also contains a variety of stunning lakes and waterways. In summer, boaters and anglers flock to the Manistique Lakes, while paddlers relish exploring serpentine rivers like the Two Hearted.
Of course, the most well-visited areas lie along the perimeter. The southern shore, beside Lake Michigan, contains nostalgic towns, sheltered harbors, and historic sites like the haunted Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. While the northern shore, along Lake Superior, contains its share of man-made highlights, its most well-known destinations are of the natural variety, such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Tahquamenon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.
Sadly, the rugged shoreline along Lake Superior is also known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes”—an 80-mile stretch that has witnessed the wreckage of more than 300 ships, the memories of which are preserved within the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the Alger Underwater Preserve.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel