Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula is a hidden gem, filled with natural beauty and unique experiences. As you drive across the breathtaking Mackinac Bridge, you will feel the anticipation building for the adventures that await.
Nestled between the shores of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and the tranquility of the St. Mary’s River, Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula whispers enchanting stories to those who listen. Imagine a place where the sunrise over the Great Lakes paints the sky in hues of gold, and each forest trail leads to a secret waiting to be unveiled. The lesser explored Eastern UP, a realm of natural wonders and hidden treasures that elude the ordinary traveler.
Three Great Lakes in one day
Visiting the Eastern Upper Peninsula gives you the opportunity to dip your toes in 3 of the 5 Great Lakes in the same day. Lake Michigan to the south, Lake Huron southeast and Lake Superior to the north all within an easy drive. You can add in the St Mary’s River for your toe dipping to if you would like.
Just over the bridge you can visit Castle Rock. Rising almost 200 feet above the area offering spectacular views. The rock looks like an ancient castle offers views of Mackinac Island, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and the surrounding area.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reveals that this region boasts miles of pristine shoreline along the Great Lakes. These picturesque shores, often overlooked in favor of more famous destinations, offer solitude and breathtaking views for those seeking a quiet escape.
As we delve into the wilderness, the Hiawatha National Forest, a vast expanse covering over 880,000 acres, stands as a testament to the Upper Peninsula’s natural splendor. According to the U.S. Forest Service, this forest is home to diverse ecosystems, providing a habitat for countless species of wildlife. Have you ever imagined wandering through a forest so untouched that every step echoes with the whispers of nature’s secrets?
The Eastern UP invites explorers to venture beyond the tourist hotspots and discover its hidden gems. Begin your journey at Tahquamenon Falls, where the amber-colored water cascades over rugged rocks, creating a scene that seems straight out of a fairy tale. Tahquamenon Falls are the second largest falls east of the Mississippi. Niagara Falls is number one.
As you explore the surrounding trails, keep an eye out for the lesser-known Lower Falls, a serene oasis away from the crowds, where the river meanders through a lush forest. The region offers fantastic opportunities for hiking, fishing, and birdwatching.
Further north at Whitefish Point you can visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum to learn about the area’s maritime history and see the Edmund Fitzgerald’s bell.
Most of Michigan’s islands in Lake Huron are concentrated around Drummond Island, situated in the northernmost part of the state’s lake territory. Another significant cluster of islands is found in the Les Cheneaux Islands archipelago, encompassing dozens of smaller islands. It is worth noting that a considerable number of these islands within the lake are quite small and uninhabited.
For a truly unique experience, head to the Drummond Island, accessible only by ferry. This hidden paradise boasts towering limestone cliffs, ancient fossils, and miles of pristine shoreline. As you kayak along the island’s secluded bays, you will understand why Drummond remains a well-kept secret.
Les Cheneaux Islands
The Les Cheneaux Islands, translated as “The Channels” in French, constitute an archipelago comprising 36 small islands, some of which are inhabited. They span 12 miles along the Lake Huron shoreline on the southeastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the United States. The name, derived from French, emphasizes the numerous channels weaving through the group of islands. Positioned approximately 30 miles northeast of Mackinac Island and 35 miles south of Sault Ste. Marie, these islands have become a popular destination for resorts, boating, and kayaking.
The mainland communities of Hessel and Cedarville, situated nearby, provide marinas, camping facilities, lodging options, restaurants, and shopping opportunities. A notable event in the area is the Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Boat Show & Festival of the Arts. The festival is held annually on the second Saturday of August since 1976 in Hessel. This event stands as the world’s largest antique wooden boat show. It draws enthusiasts and participants to celebrate the rich maritime heritage of the region.
Looking for a lesser-known island with unspoiled landscapes? Visit Neebish Island, know as the Little Gem of the St. Mary’s River. Known for over 200 species of birds and other wildlife, Neebish Island is a must for nature enthusiasts.
Head up to the Locks
As we traverse the Eastern UP, the charming town of Sault Ste. Marie welcomes us with its historic charm. Skip the conventional attractions and explore Rotary Park near the Soo Locks, where the International Bridge provides a breathtaking panorama of the connecting waterways.
Do not forget the pasties!
Our exploration of Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula has unraveled a tapestry of hidden wonders that defy the ordinary travel narrative. From the majestic Tahquamenon Falls to the secluded shores of Drummond Island, this region holds the promise of undiscovered adventures.
Make sure to stop and sample some delectable pasties, a local specialty brought over by Cornish miners. This iconic meal from the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) is the savory meat pie known as a pasty. Nowadays, you can find them freshly baked and steaming hot, offering a diverse range of fillings such as chicken pot pie, spicy jalapeno, bacon, cheeseburger, and options catering to gluten-free and vegetarian preferences. Local shops throughout the peninsula proudly serve these delicious pasties. Although there’s widespread appreciation for pasties, there is a noticeable division when it comes to the preferred dipping sauce. The eternal debate persists: Ketchup or gravy? To settle the matter, why not give both a try and discover your personal preference!