While there's plenty to see and do in the Keweenaw to keep you busy, Michigan's Upper Peninsula is filled with incredibly beauty, history and culture to explore. Let the Keweenaw serve as your basecamp while you cross some of these noteworthy destinations off your adventure bucket list.
Michigan's largest state park at nearly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is filled with jaw-dropping natural beauty and mile of hiking trails. While Lake of the Clouds gets the most attention from visitors thanks to its stunning views and easy access, the Porkies have several other highlights not to be missed like Presque Isle Falls, and Summit Peak. The trip from Houghton to the Porkies Visitor Center is about 1.5 hours away by car but it'll take about another 45 minutes to reach the far western edge of the state park's boundaries. Be sure to pack a lunch because all that hiking will work up an appetite!
Pictured Rocks is a national treasure. Located three hours west of Houghton, the National Lakeshore's pristine beaches and trails draw hikers, paddlers and waterfall hunters from across the country each year. Towering sandstone cliffs dazzle with spectacular colors and geological formations.
The Keweenaw definitely has its fair share of waterfalls, but if you're looking to stretch your road-legs, a trip southwest is in order to do a triple header in the Western U.P.: Bond Falls, Agate Falls and O' Kun de Kun Falls. These three beauties close to each other and relatively easy to get to. While O' Kun de Kun requires a bit of a hike, the other two are both state scenic sites with easy walking paths to the viewing areas. From Houghton, the closest falls (O' Kun de Kun) is an hour drive.
Located about 40 minutes south of Houghton along US 41, the Keweenaw Bay communities of Baraga & L'Anse feature several exceptional outdoor experiences well worth visiting including Canyon Falls, Silver Mountain, Mount Arvon--Michigan's highest point. Spend the day exploring these impressive natural features, but be sure to grab one of The Hilltop Restaurants massive cinnamon rolls to recoup from the calorie deficit from all that adventuring.
Throughout this rugged, steep Wilderness, the Sturgeon and Little Silver Rivers and their tributaries have carved falls, rapids, ponds, oxbows, and terraces. Stunning views are possible from the eastern rim of the gorge. The Sturgeon River rushes out of the northern portion of this wilderness, over the 20 foot volcanic outcroppings of Sturgeon Falls, and through a gorge that reaches 350 feet in depth and a mile in width. Except for a few naturally bare slopes, most of the land is forested with pine, hemlock, aspen, sugar maple, birch, and basswood. There are few established trails in Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, but the North Country National Scenic Trail parallels the northern and eastern boundaries for about eight miles. In spring and during peak runoff, kayaking and white water canoeing are challenging, and only recommended for advanced paddlers.
To be clear, Isle Royale National Park deserves well more than a day trip to be fully enjoyed. But if you need to cross this off your bucket list, and only have a day to do it, we won't blame you. With 165 miles of hiking trails and more stunning views than you can count, visitors really should plan a multi-day stay. However it is possible to make a day-trip to the Big Island if you opt to take a seaplane which fly out of Hancock. Landing in Tobin Harbor, you're a short walk away from Rock Harbor were visitors can find several day hikes like the Scoville Point Trail. Or you can take a boat out to Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Daisy Farm and the Edisen Fishery.
With nearly 1 million acres of wilderness filled with hiking, freshwater lakes, waterfalls, and backcounty camping, the Ottawa National Forest is a destination for true outdoor enthusiasts. Encompassing much of the Western Upper Peninsula, the Forest's headquarters in Watersmeet is about two hour south of hours south of Houghton. But the northern boundary of the National Forest can easily be reached in about 45 minutes.
While staying in the Keweenaw, its time well spent investing a full day (or more) exploring each of our communities. Here are a few suggested itineraries to get you started.