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5 Things That Can Only Be Found in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Updated on December 6, 2015
Chantelle Porter profile image

Chantelle is an avid hiker and bicycler, exploring forests, hiking paths and bike trails throughout Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula (Yooperland), it wan't until I was an adult that I truly appreciated the beauty and splendor of the natural world that surrounded me. Morel hunting, blueberry and thimbleberry picking, swimming in icy clear blue waters, and snowshoeing in virgin forests without a soul around were simply part of an everyday existence. They say you can't go home again but they are wrong. Come join me on my journey back.



Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | Source
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Pictured RocksSable FallsBridalveil FallsLake SuperiorPicture Rocks National LakeshorePictured Rocks National LakeshorePictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks | Source
Sable Falls
Sable Falls | Source
Bridalveil Falls
Bridalveil Falls | Source
Lake Superior
Lake Superior | Source
Picture Rocks National Lakeshore
Picture Rocks National Lakeshore | Source
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | Source
Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks | Source

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

With 42 miles of pristine shoreline Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore is a great place to start your journey. Guided boat tours are available out of Munising, but do like the natives do and rent a pontoon boat. Pack a picnic lunch, pick a direction, and go.

With 15 miles miles of weathered sandstone cliffs and 12 miles of beach solitude, you will want to devote a day to your journey. Drop anchor and sun on the beach, explore cove formations along the shoreline or hike the more than 90 miles of natural trails.

With so may choices it can be hard to know where to start. If you want to hike try Miners Falls Trail, an easy hike that ends in a cascading waterfall, or Sand Point Marsh Trail, dotted with interpretive exhibits, old beach ridges and an active beaver colony.

The one thing you won't see here? People. No waiting in an endless line for a burger and coke or to use the ladies room, no loud "boombox" music to assault your ears, no loud drunken young adults disturbing the sense of serenity. Just you and nature in all of God's glory.

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Tahquamenon FallsUpper Tahquamenon FallsLower Falls, Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls | Source
Upper Tahquamenon Falls
Upper Tahquamenon Falls | Source
Lower Falls, Tahquamenon Falls
Lower Falls, Tahquamenon Falls | Source

Ready to pack your bags?

Does the UP seem like a place you'd like to visit?

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Tahquamenon Falls

I first visited the falls when I was about 10 and I have never forgotten it. It was the fall and the trees looked like flames burning crimson and gold. The warm autumn sun shone down through the trees, its dappled light striking our faces. Fallen leaves crunched beneath our shoes. The forest smelled of pine tar, old dropped needles and earth. The rushing of the waterfall could be heard from the walking path almost half a mile away.

200 feet across, the waters of the Tahquamenon River pass over the falls at a rate of 50,000 feet per second. The water is rust-colored, not from dirt, but from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock trees in the swamp drained by the river. An observation platform rests at the crest of the Upper Falls and a 4 mile hiking path follows the river down to the Lower Falls. A series of 5 falls, the Lower Falls can be viewed from the riverbank or from an island in the middle of the river.

The falls are part of Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Originally an old logging camp, the current visitor center is an exact replica of the camp from long ago. A restaurant, gift shop and rental rowboats are available at the visitor center. There are plenty of picnic tables and handicap accessible restrooms near the visitor center.

25 miles of hiking trails meander through the park. Birders should be on the lookout for bald eagles, Sandhill Cranes, Spruce and Sharptail Grouse, as well as other waterfowl and songbirds. it is not unusual to spot moose. If you're lucky you might even see a black bear.

Tahquamenon Falls is located in Paradise, Michigan. Appropriate, don't you think?

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Mackinac BridgeMackinac BridgeMackinac BridgeMackinac Bridge Walk
Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge | Source
Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge | Source
Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge | Source
Mackinac Bridge Walk
Mackinac Bridge Walk | Source

Mackinac Bridge

Opened to traffic on November 1, 1957 at a cost of $99,800,000, Mackinac Bridge is the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world. Connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, there have been over 150,000,000 vehicle crossings since its opening.

All suspension bridges are designed to sway in response to changes in wind speed, temperature and weight. The Mackinac Bridge can slowly sway up to 35 feet at the middle pier and then slowly return as winds die. I have never personally felt the bridge sway, but I can say, when you're crossing during the middle of a blinding snowstorm, being swept over the side does cross your mind. I always drive the lane closest to the middle!

I think the nicest way to experience the bridge is to do the annual bridge walk. Held each Labor Day since 1959 and led by the Governor, between 40,000 and 60,000 people participate each year. It takes about two hours to cross the bridge and a shuttle returns you to your car. This is the only time during the year pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. The weather is usually sunny and it's a fun way to get some exercise. If you're visiting the UP at this time of year, it's a definite must do.

Kitchitikippi Springs

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Kitchitikippi SpringsKitchitikippi SpringsKitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs | Source
Kitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs | Source
Kitchitikippi Springs
Kitchitikippi Springs | Source

Kitchitikippi Springs

Called "Mirror of Heaven" by the early Chippewa Indians, Kitchitikippi Springs is an experience I'm not sure you can find anywhere else on earth. A pond 200 feet across and 40 feet deep, it is fed by 10,000 gallons per minute of water the seeps through fissures in the limestone bottom.

What makes this place so special? The water. It is emerald green and literally as clear as drinking water. Visitors board a glass-bottomed raft that crosses the pond though "people power". Visitors or the park ranger pull on a steel cable that is strung across the pond and you pull yourself across to the other side. Look straight down through the viewing windows and you will see straight to the the bottom that is inhabited by lake, brown and brook trout as well as yellow perch. Petrified tree trunks and branches lay on the bottom of the spring as they've done for who knows how many years.

Kitchitikippi Springs is part of Palms Book State Park just outside of Manistique, Michigan. Visit the springs and go "snorkeling" without getting wet!


Did You Know?

Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, is also the largest freshwater lake in the world when measured by surface area. Not only that, it contains about 10% of the fresh water in the world. That’s right, THE WORLD.

Lake Superior
Lake Superior | Source
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Isle Royale National ParkMoose at Isle Royale National ParkIsle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park | Source
Moose at Isle Royale National Park
Moose at Isle Royale National Park | Source
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park | Source

Isle Royale

571,790 acres of untouched wilderness, Isle Royale is an island located in Lake Superior about 56 miles from the mainland. Accessible only by ferry or seaplane from May to September, Isle Royale is for the true outdoor enthusiast who appreciates its rugged, isolated beauty.

With no roads and no wheeled vehicles, visitors explore the island by walking its 170 miles of hiking trails or the waters surrounding the island by kayak or canoe. For those not interested in sleeping under the stars or in a yurt, Rock Harbor Lodge provides rooms that sleep four and has a gift shop, store, and a restaurant. Sightseeing excursions as well as fishing charters can be arranged through the lodge.

This is not a place for the faint of heart. Be forwarned, black flies and mosquitos will swarm deep woods visitors. Moose can infrequently be seen but the wolves shy away from humans. (Scientists believe the moose swam to the island in the early 1900's and the wolves walked across the frozen lake sometime between 1945 and 1950.)

Isle Royale is a singular experience that is not for everyone, but maybe you want to add it to your bucket list all the same.

Did You Know?

The backbone of Isle Royale, Greenstone Ridge, is thought to be part of the largest lava flow on earth.

Thimbleberries

Source

Foods Not To Be Missed

  • Thimbleberries grow wild all over the UP. Larger, tarter and with smaller seeds than raspberries they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Made into a jam they are divine.
  • Pasties, brought over by Cornish miners, are meat pies encased in a flaky crust. Traditionally eaten with ketchup and pickles.
  • Cudighi, a type of sausage brought over by italian immigrants, is eaten with mushrooms, pizza sauce and cheese (think pizza sandwich) and they are delicious.
  • Trenary toast, available only from the Trenary Bakery in Trenary, Michigan, is similar to biscotti but larger. The most popular flavor, cinnamon and sugar, is great dipped in coffee or hot chocolate.

And A 6th To Grow On - Eben Ice Caves

While English is, of course, spoken everywhere, there are a few terms which you may want to know before you go.

Yooper Dictionary

Yooper
English
deeze
these
dems
them
doze
those
make wood
chop logs
go town
go to the store
party store
liquor store
jumbo
32 ounce bottle of beer
eh?
OK?
da
the
sisu
guts
ya eh?
right?
troll
resident of lower michigan
camp
cottage

Upper Peninsula of Michigan

show route and directions
A markerIsle Royale -
Isle Royale National Park, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
get directions

B markerTaquamenon Falls -
Tahquamenon Falls, McMillan, MI, USA
get directions

C markerPictured Rocks National Lakeshore -
Munising, MI 49862, USA
get directions

D markerKitchitikippi Springs -
Palmer, Richmond Township, MI, USA
get directions

E markerMackinac Bridge -
Mackinac Bridge, Saint Ignace, MI 49781, USA
get directions

If you're looking for untouched forests and stunning natural beauty, then the Upper Peninsula is what you're looking for.

© 2015 Chantelle Porter

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    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 20 months ago from Chicago

      Thank you so much. My parents lived in Traverse City for a few years. Small world.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 20 months ago from America

      I love the UP. We drove through many times and stopped by the lake, the bridge and went to the island. My family lives in Grand Haven and Traverse City so rather than go down through Chicago we liked going through the UP and over the bridge. Beautiful photos. Shared.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 21 months ago from Chicago

      Thank you fellow Yooper!

    • Daddy Paul profile image

      Daddy Paul 21 months ago from Michigan

      You forgot some Youper terms

      Bomber = 22 or 24 ounce beer

      Da dent and bent = part of store which sells clearance merchandise.

      Tapper = 7 oz glass of draft beer

      I guess when you speak them everyday you forget most people have no idea what you are talking about.

      Nice read.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 22 months ago from Chicago

      Thank you! I'm assuming he went to Michigan Tech ? It's a great school.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Great hub! My husband went to college in the UP in Houghton and we've been back to visit his old stopping grounds and drive up to Copper Harbor. Definitely a beautiful place. Thanks for the informative hub and great photos.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      I do hope you get back. It's a beautiful place. Thanks for stopping by.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 23 months ago from Minnesota

      It has been too many years since I crossed the Mackinac Bridge and visited upper Michigan. Maybe some today I will return and see more of the beautiful places there are to "be".

      This is a refreshing hub!

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      I'm glad you liked it Sherry. I haven't been back in awhile and I do miss it. Looks like it's time for a road trip. There are a lot of fun things to do in the winter if you really like snow. (Maybe that will be my next article. HaHa.) Thank you for reading.

    • sherry-white profile image

      Sherry White 23 months ago from Detroit

      Hey Chantelle, thanks for all this useful info. Want to go to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for so many days, but somehow the trip is never made yet. But if that place is sans queues I will definitely go there now soon.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 24 months ago from Chicago

      You betcha! Those ice caves are amazing. Amazing the power and beauty of nature. Glad you enjoyed it drbj

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 24 months ago from south Florida

      Beautiful, Chantelle. I loved viewing those ice caves. Especially during today's heat. Your selection of photos is also the best. Ya eh?

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 24 months ago from Chicago

      Isn't it wonderful how writing can take you to places you can never physically go?

    • esja profile image

      Esmé 24 months ago from South Africa

      The airfare would be terrible, but I can dream...and read...

      Regards

      Esmé

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 24 months ago from Chicago

      Carb Diva- What city are they from? The UP is small. I may know them.

      Emese - I hoped you would like it. Your travel articles are so interesting and beautiful.

      Esja- You would love it. But the airfare would be astronomical!

      Thank you everyone for reading my article.

    • esja profile image

      Esmé 24 months ago from South Africa

      Hi Chantelle, I think I wanna go....!

    • Emese Fromm profile image

      EmeseRéka 24 months ago from The Desert

      What a great hub, Chantelle! You make me want to go there . Thank you for taking us along this journey.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 24 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Have a very dear family at our church who are "Yoopers". Your dictionary might help. Thanks for the fun tour.