RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 10

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

Today began in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. We didn’t have far to go because our campground was near the entrance.

The Porcupine Mountains are also called “The Porkies”. They are a group of small mountains in the Upper Peninsula. The park consists of 60,000 acres and it is one of the few wilderness areas left in the Midwest.

We did stop in the Wilderness Visitor’s Center to view the exhibits of the wildlife in the park. The Summit Peak Scenic Area. It was a little over a mile walk round trip. Along the trail there was a viewing deck and then farther on was the Summit Peak Tower which is the highest point in the park, close to 2,000 feet above sea level.

It was a beautiful view of the trees and Lake Superior in the distance.

From the Summit Peak area we drove through the park to the Presque Isle Scenic Area. We hiked the Presque Isle River Waterfall Loop. We crossed over the suspension bridge to follow the trail.

Suspension Bridge over the Presque Isle River

The river was flowing quickly! It was a very sunny day and it was hard to photograph the river without reflections or shadows. It was a beautiful day for a hike!

Potholes formed from the swirling current with pepples and sand causing these formations.

We hiked down to where the river empties into Lake Superior.

Matilda did well with all the wooden steps and paths. It was another day of a lot of walking! It’s a good thing that she loves to walk!

Part of the trail in the Presque Isle River trail

Manabezho Falls on the Presque Isle River and has a drop of about 25 feet. It is the largest of the falls that are on this river.

The Lake of the Clouds Overlook was our next stop. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a spot in the parking lot! The park officers were coordinating the parking situation, it was one vehicle out and then one vehicle in! We followed the less traveled trail to begin our climb to the various overlooks. We read later that this overlook is the most popular area in the park and even more popular during the fall! The Lake of the Clouds is located in a valley between two ridges in the Porcupine Mountains. We have many pictures from here and so deciding which photos to share was very difficult. Words can’t describe the beauty of the views here. Make sure you click through the pictures!

When we were back at our campsite, we crossed the street to look at Lake Superior before we travel tomorrow!

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is worth a visit. We spent just one day in the park but with all of the trails you could spend a lot of time hiking to the various areas. Matilda was tired and wanted to go to bed and sleep when we got back to the campsite!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 9

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

Today was a travel day from Wetmore to Ontonagon. Because of the changing leaves the drive was stunning.

Matilda was so happy when the three hour drive was over!

Matilda enjoying our new campsite!

Our campground is called Union River Big Bear and is located at the entrance to the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park which we will be visiting tomorrow!

We were told in advance to be prepared because we are camping in a remote wilderness area. And they weren’t kidding, no cell service! It was a great time to disconnect. We did have limited Wi-fi service in case of an emergency!

Across from the campground is Lake Superior and a sandy beach. It was a little chilly for a swim but we walked over and checked it out.

Once we were settled at our campsite we drove into the village of Ontonagon. It is located at the mouth of Ontonagon River on Lake Superior. Ontonagon Lighthouse is located in town. We followed the directions online and that took us to museum which was closed due to Covid-19. We drove all around looking for the lighthouse and finally found it across the Ontonagon River! You can only visit the lighthouse by taking a tour. The lighthouse is surrounded by private property and you have to be on a tour to see it! It is a 39 foot square tower.

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 8

Friday, October 9th, 2020

This morning we had to get Matilda up and moving for our first adventure of the day to visit Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum which are located beside each other. Matilda had to stay in the car when we purchased our ticket for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. It opened in 1986 and it is the only museum dedicated to the shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. There were artifacts displayed from shipwrecked vessels with explanations of what caused the ship to sink as well as models of the ships.

When we finished reading about the various shipwrecks and looking at the artifacts in the museum we walked around the Whitefish Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was first lit in 1849 on Lake Superior and shone out over Whitefish Bay. It is the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior. The lighthouse is located at the end of an 80 mile shoreline and this stretch is known as the “shipwreck coast of Lake Superior”. More ships have been lost at Whitefish Point than any other part of the lake. The most famous is the Edmund Fitzgerald! (Queue Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”) The lighthouse was replaced in 1861 with a steel cylinder that is 80 feet tall.

We were unable to tour the lighthouse but we were able to tour the keepers quarters that are attached. We walked around the grounds and then drove to Tahquamenon Falls.

Along the Tahquamenon River we viewed two falls, the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. We walked through the park to the 116 steps that lead down to the gorge. Matilda walked with us but as we started down the steps we noticed that the steps between each flight were metal with small openings! So Dave carried her down and back up! At least Matilda weighs only 16 pounds compared to a young lady we passed who was carrying a dog that was probably 50-60 pounds! When we reached the bottom we had a panoramic view of the Lower and Upper Falls. These falls have been nicknamed the “Root Beer Falls” because of the brownish color.

The Lower Falls is 4 miles downstream from the Upper Falls and is a series of 5 smaller falls that cascade around an island.

Selfie with the Upper Falls in the background

After our hike back up the 116 steps we walked over to the 94 steps that lead to the Brink view. These steps also had the open metal so we took turns going down the steps and viewing the falls. Matilda didn’t need to worry about navigating the metal steps and getting stressed. Being that close to the Upper Falls that has a drop of nearly 50 feet, over 2,000 feet across, and a water flow over 50,000 gallons per second was quite majestic.

On our way back to the campground we saw a sign for the Crisp Point Lighthouse. We turned off the highway and the sign said 18 miles to the lighthouse. For about a mile the road was paved and then gravel. We thought OK gravel isn’t so bad but then it became a dirt road the rest of the way. I wish I’d taken a picture of the road conditions as we got farther down the road but I was too busy helping Dave avoid the dips that were quite deep in places.

Matilda was freaked out by the bumps and swerves that Dave had to manoeuvre. We had no cell service so I could just envision the car falling apart and us stuck out in the middle of nowhere! ­čś│ It was definitely an adventure. I even told Dave partly through to feel free to turn around but he was on a mission to see this lighthouse. It definitely is in a remote and secluded location. The dirt road went through the heavily wooded Lake Superior State Forest! We should have been in an all terrain vehicle! The 18 miles took well over an hour each way!

When we finally arrived at Crisp Point Lighthouse we took our time exploring the grounds. The lighthouse was built in 1875 and was one of the five Lake Superior U.S. life-saving service stations between Munising and Whitefish Point. It stands 58 feet tall.

The drive back was just as bad as the drive in! We passed a sign on the side of the road that stated that this was the spot where two sisters were rescued in 2015. Read more about their story here. https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2015/04/missing_sisters_survive_2_week.html

After our busy day and our adventure going to Crisp Point we relaxed around the campfire! It was another busy day exploring!

Relaxing with a glass of wine and a campfire!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 7

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Today was another very busy day for Matilda! She was a real trooper with all of the walking and stairs we did! As we drove toward Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore we pulled off the highway to view Alger Falls. It is fed by the Alger Creek and the water flows down the rocky cliffs. It isn’t a big falls but it was worth the stop.

Our first stop in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was to hike down to Miners Falls. It was a beautiful walk along the trail.

Hiking to the Miners Falls

It was a little over a half of a mile hike to get to the falls. Miners Falls drops about 40 feet and we could feel a light spray from the falls.

Matilda taking a rest after that hike!

Our next stop was to go to the Miners Castle Scenic Overlook. The Pictured Rocks are about 50 to 200 feet above Lake Superior and are made of sandstone and follow the shoreline for about 15 miles. They are called Pictured Rocks because of the mineral stain and the various colors occur when the groundwater comes out of the cracks and runs down the sandstone. The minerals that produce the various colors are: iron- red and orange, copper- blue and green, manganese- brown and black, and limonite- white. The best view of the Pictured Rocks is from the water. We tried for several days to reserve a spot but two of the days we were there the water was too rough due to the wind and because of the rescheduling of those we couldn’t get a spot until after we were on to our next location. We’ll just need to come back so we can see the view from the water! I will say it was spectacular from where we hiked along the trail.

We walked down to the Miners Beach along Lake Superior. The beach is a mile long.

Sable Falls also is located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and it falls 75 feet. It is down 168 steps.

We continued our adventures in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hiked to the Au Sable Point Lighthouse on the south shore of Lake Superior. It is a mile and a half walk to the lighthouse. Matilda got her workout today! Au Sable Point Lighthouse was built in 1873-1874. There also is a brick oil building, a fog signal building, and the tower and the keepers quarters. It became fully automated in 1958 and still operates.

The weather was gorgeous and our 1 1/2 mile walk back was beautiful! We then visited Munising Falls which was a much shorter walk, only 5-10 minutes. I’m sure Matilda was so happy with a short walk. I have to say she was a real trooper and did very well. We made sure we only took her on the trails that were dog friendly.

Munising Falls drops 50 feet over a sandstone cliff.

Our day was packed full of exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. My watch recorded over 9 miles and 25 flights of stairs. It’s no wonder Matilda was ready to relax at our campsite!

“I’m exhausted!”