Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is chock full of waterfalls, trails (ATV, dirt bike, ski), ghost towns, mines, historical museums, and lighthouses. The key to finding them all is to get outdoors and explore. My favorite time to spend outdoors in the U.P. is the fall, although I do love skiing up there in the winter. The fall weather is wonderful but, fleeting knowing that winter is knocking on the door. You just have to get outside and enjoy it!
One of the great day trips throughout Copper Harbor is to take US Hwy 41 to Copper Harbor with a side detour along M-26 through Eagle Harbor. There are several stops to make along the way. All the main waterfalls along the road have signs posted for them to let you know where they are. You might not be able to see them right away. Some of the more spectacular waterfall views take a little extra effort to get to. Most of them have pull outs for you to park and there are trails to follow to get you to the most beautiful sites if you have the time. Jampot is a legendary store that is a must stop – located right next to Jacob’s Falls on M-26 (excellent Jams and Baked Goods). Another must stop is to drive up to the top of Brockway Mountain for the most spectacular scenic views of Lake Superior and Copper Harbor.
Eagle Harbor has a working Lighthouse and museum that you can visit maintained by the Keweenaw County Historical Society. It even has several claims that the lighthouse and grounds are haunted.
Eagle River & Jacob’s Falls are the easiest to see right from your car on the highway. Silver River and Manganese Falls are a bit harder to find. Silver River Falls is across the street from the pullout. The best way to view these falls is to follow the trails down, and you keep getting better and better views the further you get into the woods. Manganese Falls are tough to see and slightly dangerous. The falls are in a gorge. There is a trail but, there are signs posted all over to be wary that at the edge of the trail is a steep drop off. If you take a right instead of following the trail, you can hike a short path to the top of the gorge and find where the falls break over the rocks. If you are afraid of heights this one you might like to skip.
In Houghton County, there is another scenic road trip that is enjoyable. Leaving the city of Houghton, Home of Michigan Technological University, take Canal Road along the Portage Canal, and you will find signs for the Covered Road and Redridge Dam. Both are amazing in the fall. The Covered Road is fantastic in the fall, lots of colors! The dirt road takes you all the way back to Houghton if you drive the whole way.
Redridge Steel Dam can be found quite easily. There is a small pullout to park your car but, you need to hike in to see the log dam hidden behind the massive steel dam. There are quite a few trails here to choose from that offer different views of the dam. One will take you down to the logs, and you can carefully make your way across it. Not advising this but, I’m adventurous, and I love getting the money shots with my camera.
Heading out of Houghton to go back home I stopped at Centennial Park in Chassell to get some great morning pictures of the fog along the water.
Canyon Falls are very accessible from a roadside park on US 41. There is a boardwalk through a cedar swamp and a great view of the scenic Canyon Falls on the Sturgeon River. Next time I have to make a point of trekking further along the path to get to the gorge to see the actual Canyon Falls and not just the upper ones. One thing to remember is that there might be more than one falls so, keep a look out.
Cruising around in the U.P. is a must for all nature lovers or anyone that enjoys a slower pace of life. I think the best motto you can have while you are visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is “Take nothing with you and leave nothing behind.” Except for all your memories!