We are considering a break from our annual trip to Colorado. We have never been to, and know very little about, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan's coast. We have 3 kids (7,9 and 10 by summer)that love to hike, bike, canoe/kayak and swim. I can find a place to camp on my own, but I need help picking an area or region to target. We will be traveling for 10-14 days. As mentioned above, we like hiking/biking/paddling etc, and would like to be in an area where these activities are available. We do not want to move the trailer once we set up camp, we prefer to spend our time playing, not driving. We do not mind kitschy tourest trap towns, but we want to avoid massive crouds. Open to any and all suggestions/guidance!! Thanks in advance, I have never been dissapointed with the response from this community!
Copper Harbor - Fort Wilkens State Park
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - Munising
Tahquamenon Falls State Park - Paradise
Whitefish Point & Shipwreck Museum - Paradise
The Soo Locks - Sault Ste. Marie
And most importantly: Mackinaw Island - Mackinaw City
Leave the RV on the mainland and take the ferry with the bikes for a great day trip.
I would recommend planning two campground stops. One in the western end (Copper Harbor), and then move to the east central region Newberry. You'll be able to everything on the list as a day trip.
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As far as hiking goes, by far the best area for that would be the Porcupine Mountains State Park in the far western end of the U.P. I live for a while in the Marquette and traveled the western U.P. extensively. This area is pretty, rugged, and has some elevations, but nothing like you've probably found in the Rockies. The park has over 59,000 acres. Below is the Michigan DNR web site for the "Porkies".
There are two campgrounds in the park; the southern campground is rustic, but has some nice trails right nearby and the northern campground (Union Bay) has electric only with flush toilets and showers. Neither has a great swimming area, but the road north of the park on the way to Ontonagon has some public sandy shoreline where people swim.
There are several small waterfalls throughout the park.
For kayaking there is another great area called the Sylvania Tract near Watersmeet, MI along the Wisconsin Border (US-2). It's a federal area. Not many people know about this area, but it's a chain of lakes with campsites, but you have to register for those sites (tent only). Lots of Loons in that area. There is a campground, but rustic only. They have a very nice swimming beach there too. Web site below.
Heading up to Copper Country, the Keweenaw Peninsula, is interesting. This is that jut of land sticking up into Lake Superior. There used to be a lot of mining up there years ago. Houghton & Hancock are the large towns there and you can pick up a boat to Isle Royale National Park. That's another big trip, but unlikely you can fit that all in. There are great hiking trails there and many people take their kayaks up there and paddle around the island. It's huge. Copper Harbor, at the peninsula's northern most point has a state park, Fort Wilkins, with electric only. There are private campgrounds in the area if needed. Web site below.
The Keweenaw area of the UP is great... Lots of cute little towns like Calumet, Larium, Eagle Harbor, Copper Harbor, etc. Brockway Mtn. is a nice scenic drive, there's a LOT of waterfalls and trails too.
Some trail maps: http://keweenawtrails.com/trails-maps/
Some waterfalls: http://gowaterfalling.com/waterfalls/maps/statemichigan.shtml
General info: http://www.keweenaw.info/
Keweenaw area is a little more "natural" vs. the east side of the UP, 'cause it's farther from the bridge.
My wife and I love it up there, and I'm subscribing to this thread in the hopes of learning about something up there we've missed.
The UP is very nice. Above posts cover most of it. I would make the loop. Lots to see in Wisconsin on the way up and cross the big bridge and go through lower Michigan on the way back. Lots to see there.
I have to smile when I hear people call lake Michigan "coast".
No disrespect, but us northerners just call it a shore. Or a shoreline.
You will not be disappointed.
We are going to Colorado this year. We'll take over your spot there and you can take ours here.
It's a fairly large lake with a shaded campground. You can easily day trip into the Porkies from there.
By the way, those pasties, are pronounced with a short 'a' rather than a long 'a'. One you eat, the other are worn by ladies that dance. Not sure if the ones with a long 'a' are edible, but I suppose they could be.