Photos and article by: Laura Niemiec
At the end of every summer there is a moment that is bittersweet where you aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to warm sunny days but you are equally excited for what the next season will bring. That is when I start thinking about loading up the truck and heading 7 hours north to the Upper Peninsula. Every fall, for the last 5 years, I have made the trek north right as the colors peak there and its beauty forever captivates me.
Each trip starts well before sunrise with a stop for breakfast in Grand Rapids at New Beginnings Restaurant just off of I-196, then heads north to the 5-mile long toll bridge that is dubbed the Mighty Mac. A stop at Alexander Henry Park to take in the view of the Mackinac Bridge and sneak a peek at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is always a must. From there, it’s an hour and a half drive through forests bursting with oranges, reds, and yellows as you make your way to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Here you will find the lower and upper falls. You can drive to each and walk the short trails from the parking lots or you can park at one and hike the 4-mile trail. If you are into craft brew, and craving a delicious warm meal after your trip, a stop at Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub is a must.
If you have time, and are not too tired from your full day of travel, there are two other local spots that are fun to check out. A half hour drive up to Whitefish Point gives you expansive views of Lake Superior and the Whitefish Point Lighthouse along with the opportunity visit to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. If you want to get away from the crowds at Tahquamenon during peak season, and are looking for something a little more adventurous, hop off of M-123 just west of Tahquamenon Falls and follow the 18 miles of unpaved roads that lead you to the Crisp Point Light. Be sure to have plenty of fuel because you’ll be 27 miles away from the nearest gas station. Be advised, the road is dirt and sand, and can be narrow in areas. If the weather is bad, such as heavy rains, they can be impassable.
Be on the lookout for Laura’s write-up of Pictured Rocks….coming soon! And, make sure you don’t miss any of these articles. Sign up for the Dig the Dunes weekly e-newsletter, right here!