Last fall through Absolute Michigan/Michigan in Pictures we started using the great information compiled in Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours as a starting point to point you to some great fall color touring (and fall color photos) around the state. We’re trying to add to what they’ve put together – not rip them off! As always, if you have links to information or photos that we missed, comments or reports, post them in the comments below!
We’ll start with a driving tour of the Central Upper Peninsula that’s best from mid-September to early October and about 185 miles long. The tour starts in the UP’s largest city, Marquette. Marquette features some amazing architecture. You can read about and see pictures of it courtesy of Marjorie’s blog, Michigan Architecture, especially the beautiful red sandstone.
I recommend wandering around downtown for a while to check out the buildings and maybe grab a muffin from Babycakes and some coffee at Dead River Coffee. Travel Michigan (TM) recommends a visit the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, home of the Marquette Maritime Museum. The lighthouse (pictured right by n. weaver, part of his UP slideshow) was constructed in 1866 and is the oldest significant structure in the city and more importantly, the lighthouse is one of the most historic navigation beacons on Lake Superior. There’s a nice little park behind it where you can swim if you are totally insensitive to temperature.
TM suggests that Presque Isle Park is also worth a visit and it is, offering a slow, brief jaunt along the rugged Superior shore and lots of nice little trails. It’s also a great bike ride along the shore on an excellent bike path from the lighthouse.
Now’s probably a good time for a map – click TM’s map to see larger. Heading north on County Road 550 to Big Bay takes you on a half hour cruise through some beautiful country rich in trees and views. You can stop and do the 20 minute or so climb of Sugarloaf Mountain (see some pics from Lake Superior Photo). In Big Bay is the Thunder Bay Inn where you are required by travel writer code to mention “Anatomy of a Murder” which was filmed there. Unfortunately the Thunder Bay Inn has been shuttered. You can stop in at some of the other businesses and stay at the Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast (if you call, they sometimes offer tours).
From Big Bay, head back on County Road 510 through the Huron Mountains and trees that arch over the roadway to form a tunnel of color. At US-41 head right and south into Negaunee (Chippewa word for pioneer) where you can visit the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, site of the first iron forge in the Lake Superior region. Negaunee’s Union Station Depot looks like a neat place to stay. From Negaunee, continue to Ishpeming, home of the U.S. National Ski & Snowboarding Hall of Fame and the Cliff’s Shaft Mine Museum.
The route takes you down County Road 476 to Palmer and from there on M-35 south to Gwinn. You can enjoy hiking and mountain biking at Anderson Lake West State Forest Campground or continue south on M-35 to Little Lake where you take County Road 456 east to US-41. A left US-41 takes you north to M-94 where you turn right on M-94 to Chatham and can ask “Honey – are you sure we’re not lost?” 3 miles north off M-94 at Sundell are the about 100′ high Laughing Whitefish Falls (photo right by Church of One).
From there it’s east until you reach H-03 located between Chatham and Forest Lake, north on H-03 along the AuTrain River and past AuTrain Lake until you reach the junction of M-28. You can go east 12 miles along the Lake Superior shoreline on 28 to Tyoga Pathway or go west back to Marquette.