First, my friends, you must be asking yourself, where in the world is the Keweenaw Peninsula? While this beautiful area is in my home state, I’d never actually made it that far north before within Michigan. That being said, Michigan is incredibly long, with the drive taking approximately 10 hours from my home. To put that distance in perspective, Luke recently bought an antique tractor that he’s been looking for over a period of years. We had to drive to Maryland for it… (Yes, I haven’t stopped reminding Luke about how supportive of a wife he has. ha). That drive took 8 hours and spanned four states. In the photo below you can see where exactly the Keweenaw is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The stars indicate approximately locations that you’ll hear me mentioning throughout this post, red: Lake of the Clouds, orange: Houghton, blue: Copper Harbor, purple: Munising/Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
We left early, early on the fourth of July to beat the traffic headed north. We drove pretty much straight through till Marquette where we took a break to visit one of our favorite breweries, Ore Docks, and get dinner before making the last two hour push to Houghton. Houghton is home to Michigan Tech University, which several of our friends had attended and only had wonderful things to say about the town and surrounding area. It was easy to see the source of the praise just from the drive into the scenic, old town.
Based on a suggestion by a friend we got dinner at the Ambassador in Houghton. This was a popular location based on the hostess warning us of an hour wait time to be seated and then another hour and a half for our food. We wandered around downtown while we were waiting for our table, which was well worth waiting for, as the food and the character of this unique restaurant were fantastic. You can read about the history of the Ambassador here. After dinner we caught the fireworks at South Range, a few miles south of Houghton before stopping by a brewery we’d been wanting to visit for years, the Keweenaw Brewing Company for a nightcap. Honestly, probably the cheapest brewery we’d even visited with each pint of the microbrews being $3.
We didn’t have a set plan as we started out early the next morning, except that we’d wanted to make it Copper Harbor at the top of the Keweenaw. Along the way we drove along Lake Superior where we stopped along the way to explore an isolated stretch of beach, which was encased in thick fog, enhancing the sense of being alone. The beach was unique due to the bright red stones that lined its shores. The stones were worn smooth, making for perfect skipping stones, of which Luke took full advantage.
Next along our drive we drove through the small town of Eagle Harbor, which sits right on Lake Superior. This town was such a little surprise as it had such a picturesque little harbor lined with trees and cute little cottages. I think Luke might have fallen in love with this little spot. Any pictures we tried taking failed to capture the beauty of this area, although you can see our attempt below.
Right at the edge of Eagle Harbor is the entrance for the six mile Mt. Baldy hike. This is an easy hike, with relatively relaxed inclines, however I couldn’t stop calling it Mt. Buggy. We put on bug spray, which kept the mosquitoes at bay, but the deer flies were quite persistent. Can I offer a confession I’m not proud of? I consider myself fairly tough, but a mile into this walk I almost asked Luke to turn back as I had ten deer flies swarming me. I tried to be zen about the situation but I lost my cool a bit. Luke sacrificed his hat, which we hot potatoed back and forth throughout the rest of the hike as one person would reach their breaking point. As we climbed higher, the flies abated and we could actually enjoy our hike, especially as we reached the top and passed the tree line, revealing the stunning views of the area.
Our hike back down Mt Baldy (aka Mt Buggy) was much more enjoyable as the flies didn’t find us again until we were almost back to the car. Setting out from Eagle Harbor we continued on to Copper Harbor, which I was a disappointed to find was more of a tourist trap than I’d anticipated. We enjoyed ice cream cones while wandering along the the small marina, before stopping at the Brickside Brewery, for a drink at Michigan’s most northern brewery. From here we made our way slowly back to Houghton using back roads. We even stumbled across this adorable little roadside library at one of rural intersections. Unfortunately, I was quite terrible at taking photos through this stretch of the trip as I was too busy taking it all in, from the many views of Lake Superior to the many little town we passed through. Calumet specifically ranks as one of my favorite cities in Michigan I’ve driven through and I don’t make that claim lightly. The town was teeming with history in the form of the many large old red brick buildings, a lingering testament to the wealth of the copper mining industry throughout this region in the early 1900s. We didn’t spend much time in Calumet except to venture for a snack in the Red Jacket Brewery housed within another stunning old building with intricate tile work, elaborate crown moldings and a mural above the bar. I would love to explore more of this intriguing old town.
The next morning we detoured to the Porcupine Mountains to visit the Lake of the Clouds within the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park. Requiring minimal hiking, due to the winding road takes you so close to this beautiful overlook. On a clear day you can spot Lake Superior in the distance but it was just a bit too hazy while we were there. The views regardless were breathtaking. When Luke was a kid visiting this spot they actually saw a black bear walking along the river path below. Alas, no bears this trip.
Driving home from the Porcupine Mountains took us past our favorite spot of the Upper Peninsula, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Luke and his family would come up to this area almost every year so he knows all the best spots to explore. During this trip we didn’t have time to hike to our favorite spot on Chapel Beach, where we got engaged, so we settled with hitting one of the most iconic and easily accessible routes, Miner’s Castle. Miner’s Castle and beach are always packed with people due to the proximity to the parking lot but they are always worth stopping by when in the area. We also got pasties, a UP staple, for lunch at a restaurant that holds much nostalgia for Luke, Muldoons. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather throughout this adventure, which can be a bit of a wild card being so close to Lake Superior. Overall, it was a fantastic trip to the Keweenaw and I can’t wait to explore this area further in the near future.