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Summer Vacation in the UP

What's up everyone?  It's Ian writing you another blog post with something completely awesome and exciting that I wanted to share with y'all! A summer vacation idea that's sure to please everyone in your family!

I know that this whole COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on everyone's plans this summer.  Summer camp has been cancelled and airplane trips seem a bit too much risk at the moment.  Luckily, here in the Midwest we have a gem of a vacation spot right in our backyard.  Something that's got a spot for every adventure style.  What I'm talking about is a road trip up to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan!

I just took a week off to do this road trip and it was everything I had hoped for and more.  If you like to hike, bike, kayak, or just lounge on the beach this road trip has everything you need As long as you're okay with prolonged periods of time in the car, you'll be able to really enjoy all the raw natural beauty that Michigan's upper peninsula has to offer.

Day 1:

We start off in the early morning from the Chicagoland area for our initial 7 hour drive to the incredible porcupine mountains.  We wind up driving through some of the beautiful rolling hills, and the various lakes dotting the countryside of northern Wisconsin.  As we move north the trees become more dense and green takes over the grey of concrete and buildings.  After a couple gas stops, a bag of beef jerky, and a box of strawberries we arrived.  We had encountered heavy showers almost the whole drive up, but as we pull up the the Lake of The Clouds trail head the clouds part and we're greeted with sunny skies and a cool breeze coming off of Lake Superior.  The 1/2 mile "hike" to the lookout is extremely easy for almost anyone to complete and opens up to a spectacular view of the Lake of the Clouds surrounded by dense hardwood forest from your view on the rocky outcropping of the porcupine mountains.

There's a trail that goes further into the porcupine wilderness with a wooden bridge crossing over the stream leading out of the lake.  This trail has quite a bit of elevation change and I would describe it as a moderate hike, so not good for beginners.  There's a 5.1 mile out and back trail to Mirror Lake if you're wanting to stretch your legs after that long car ride.  We gave it a shot and with the recent deluge and the mud it proved too much for us.

  One thing we also learned quite quickly about the U.P. in the summer is that the mosquitoes are RELENTLESS, so I would recommend mosquito nets and heavy deet bug spray.  We hoofed it back to the truck and drove 1.5 hours to our AirBNB in Houghton.  We decided to go out to eat that night and got some INSANELY good grub at The Den.  After dinner we walked down the road to grab a craft brew at the local Keweenaw Brewing Company tap room.  The view from the back balcony of the bay and the massive lift bridge was pretty incredible.

Finally, we head back home to rest our weary bones.  What a jam packed day.

Day 2: 

Another early morning and today we're headed further north up the Keweenaw Peninsula.  Destination: Copper Harbor. On the way up we go through larger rolling hills and see more rocky outcrops almost resembling mountains.  It certainly doesn't feel like we're in the Midwest anymore.  We begin passing large metal buildings and finally see the signs designating them as old abadoned copper mines.  At one point the Keweenaw peninsula was the worlds largest producer or raw copper.  The drive to Copper Harbor is a winding drive through tree lined roads and at times through natural tree formed tunnels.  We pass the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge which is a beautiful stone and log cabin with a golf course on the property.   We continue on and finally arrive at Copper Harbor after a 1.5 hour drive.  We stop to fuel up and get some advice on hikes and places to kayak from the local gas station attendant.  With a tank full of gas we head on to the Devil's Washtub which is a small blow hole in the rocky Lake Superior coast line. 

As the waves crash in they cause a distinct and somewhat eerie sloshing sound. Next up was Brockway Mountain scenic drive, it that has frequent stops along vista points that allow you to look out at the Lake Superior coastline, surrounding lakes and rivers, and offers a unique birds eye view of Copper Harbor.

Our next stop was to Eagle Harbor and the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.  Unfortunately, because of the pandemic the lighthouse and surrounding activities were closed. 

We then drove to hunters point park and hiking trail, back at Copper Harbor.  This is a relaxing and easy 1 mile out and back trail takes you on some interesting and beautiful red stone beaches on the Lake Superior side and you can opt for the calmer more wooded bay side with crystal clear water.  Either way you can't go wrong with this beautiful and serene hike. After this hike is was time to begin our trek back south since we were staying in Marquette that evening.  On our way back we stopped at the Bare Bluff trail head.  It's a bit of a dusty and rutted out gravel road to get there, but let me tell you the hike is totally worth the dust on the truck.  This trail is a moderate 3 mile loop trail with the most incredible vista point in the middle of the hike showing you the whole Bett Grise Bay.  

 This was only a quarter of our trip so stay tuned for more information and pictures from this awesome vacation!