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Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

Toledo, Ohio
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Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

My husband and I are interested in an UP vacation for July or August of this year and would appreciate any suggestions. We tried to plan a long weekend getaway last fall, but we ultimately decided that we wanted to wait until we could dedicate a little more time.

We're from Toledo, OH and would likely leave right after work on Friday and arrive in Mackinaw City late. We could then start fresh on Saturday morning and enjoy the UP until Sunday of the following weekend when we would have to drive home.

We're in the early planning stages, so I'm not sure exactly where we want to go. My husband has never explored the UP and I have only been as far as St. Ignace/Mackinac Island as a kid. We're in our mid/late 20's and really enjoy nature, scenery, and active things- hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting etc. We will not be traveling with a kayak or bikes and would have to rent these things. However, we would not mind just hiking if that's how it happens. We're also interested in any must-see's that are unique to the area- caverns, museums, etc. We have NO interest in night life or shopping.

I would like to see Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls, and Pictured Rocks for sure. I have also considered Porcupine Mountains as well. Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls look wonderful, but these are also places that I have heard about long before I began looking into this trip. Are they going to be very busy places? If yes, even during the week? DH and I would typically prefer quiet and privacy on a trail over a place with a ton of families and screaming kids in strollers.

Are there any specific hikes that come to mind that you would consider strenuous or at least moderately difficult? We're not interested in 30 mile hikes, but something that is a few miles and challenging.

If it matters, we're not interested in camping and would prefer hotels.

What would you suggest for an itinerary? And how many nights would you plan to stay in each place? I find it kind of difficult to know how long to allow for an area.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

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Chicago's North...
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1. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

first off, try to budget as much time as possible for this trip... if you can swing more than 9 days, go for it....

regarding crowds---other than mack island, not to worry.... pictured rocks is popular, but it's all relative....

the places you mentioned are must-sees, IMO... if you're interested in big machines, it's worth going up to the SOO and watching the boats go thru the locks.... the city itself has seen better days, so i wouldn't necessarily recommend staying there for the nite..... i would say, after mackinaw (for this trip, go for a day trip to the island---there's too much other awesome stuff to see on this road trip!), head to the SOO, then over to paradise for the nite... see tahq falls, then the next day, head over to munising... follow the lake superior shore as much as possible and check out the various national park sights along the way.... factoring in stopping and hiking, you could conceivably spend an entire day getting to munising..... once in munising, plan to spend 2 full days exploring pictured rocks and possibly grand island... there are kayak outfitters in town, but if you don't get to kayak, a good alternative is to take the shoreline boat tour...... my advice would be to stay in munising for 2 nites....

after pictured rocks, head to marquette... big bay is a nice diversion for lunch.....

then head up to copper harbor perhaps for the nite---be sure to take the brockway mountain drive up to copper harbor, then the coastal road (M-26) back... you have time to see the porkies, so DEFINITELY go for it---some really nice hiking trails in the park... you could stay in ontonagon, silver city, or one of the many cottages along the rural and scenic coastline...

at this point, you will be on about your 7th nite.... you could circle back at a leisurely pace and see some of the southern yoop sights such as piers gorge, big spring, the garden peninsula, and the north lake michigan coastline back toward mack city... you could also drop down into wisc and see some sights such as door county (will probably be crowded, but not crazy like it might be in the fall)... OR, you could push it and see the apostle islands, which is another kayaking mecca.... but, you will have to beeline it back to toledo.... either way, consider taking one of the ferries across lake michigan to avoid chicago, and to add an interesting dimension to your trip.....

we did an eastern yoop/lake huron road trip last summer:

…tripadvisor.com/tripwow/ta-064d-4778-84f0

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some links to help you plan:

www.great-lakes.net/tourism/circletour/

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lake superior sights/sites:

http://www.nps.gov/piro/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/isro/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/apis/index.htm

michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx…

michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx…

http://www.uptravel.com/

http://www.exploringthenorth.com/

http://www.lakesuperiorphoto.com/

http://www.lakesuperior.com/

http://www.soolocks.com/index.phtml

http://www.agawacanyontourtrain.com/

http://www.saulthistoricsites.com/

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lake michigan sights/sites:

mackinacisland.org/http:/…lmct.html

www.michiganhighways.org/other/lmct.html

http://www.ssbadger.com/home.aspx

www.travelwisconsin.com/Door_County.aspx

http://www.michiganwines.com/

gowaterfalling.com/waterfalls/maps/greatlake…

Ada, Michigan
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2. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

Imo one of the most unique spots in Michigan will not be that far from where you are starting out beaver island. It checks your boxes of what your looking for. Perhaps a all island vacation? Beaver island, mackinac, isle royale.

Chicago's North...
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3. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

i totally agree, but island adventures require more time. IR crossed my mind while i was posting, but it will take an investment of a minimum of 3 days to accomplish..... if they had 2 weeks, then i'd say definitely go for it......

Racine, Wisconsin
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4. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

Not sure if you like lighthouses, but there are many in the upper peninsula. After we went to T. Falls, we went to the Whitefish Pointe Lighthouse in Paradise and really enjoyed the museum there, which includes information on the Edmond Fitzgerald. You can also book a night in the crew quarters there.

www.shipwreckmuseum.com/plan-your-trip-128/

Toledo, Ohio
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5. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

Strange,

Thank you so much for all of your suggestions! That gives me a great place to start. I wish we did have more time to travel, but my husband's vacation time from his employer is limited. I had completely overlooked Copper Harbor. I started with google maps to get a look at the various parts of the UP. There doesn't appear to be much in terms of parks/forests up there. It is mostly just a scenic drive? Or are there plenty of opportunities for foot exploration? Is it the town itself that is charming and worth visiting?

Advn,

I had looked into IR a little bit already. I was definitely impressed and it does seem like something that we would be interested in. However, I also felt that we didn't have enough time to see that on this trip too.

Detroit
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6. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

Some random thoughts. It's not too crowded, not too many strollers in kids. You'll get lots of crowds,kids,noise, ect on Mackinaw (one of the many reasons I don't go there) but not in the UP. You'll have peace and quiet but it will be busy enough in the summer that it's their tourist season and hotel prices will be up. If I had a week, I'd probably do:

1-2 day pictured rocks and tahquamenon.

2-3 days Marquette

2-3 days copper harbor

2 days porcupine mountains (the one place on this list I havne't been)

You might want to consider bringing your own bikes. I think the only place you might be able to rent bikes would be in the college towns, Marquette and Houghton.

I'm more of a 45 minute hiker and no great specific hikes come to mind from these towns. THere are 2 ski mountains in Marquette (hogback and something else) and one is more user friendly so I took the hike at that one.

For copper harbor, it's not the towns that grabbed me, it is the scenery on the water. ANd the food is surprisingly good given how few restaurants are there.

A couple other tips:

I think pictured rocks is best on either the evening cruise or on an overcast day. Surprisingly, I think they are much less pretty in the bright sunlight.

If you do tahquamenon, the brew pub in the park is surprisingly good (not your typical "you're stuck here so we're going to serve bad overpriced food" place you find in most parks)

Chicago's North...
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7. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

yes, IMO, the trek up to CH is definitely worth it... you could skip it IF you plan to return and visit IR... you would take the ferry out of CH (much shorty ferry ride than out of houghton), which is a 3 hour ride.... but, who knows when you'll return, plus, since you'll be right in the area, why miss it?

aside from the scenic driving up there, this is worth a visit (and hike)...

michigannature.org/home/…estivant.shtml

Marquette, Michigan
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8. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

Kayaking and biking are very big pastimes in the UP.

Some kayak rentals can be found here: paddlingmichigan.com/canoe&kayakrentals.htm

Additionally, bike rentals are very prevalant.

Marquette county has a lot of opportunity to do what you have suggested. Check out the Noquemanon trail network for ideas: http://www.noquetrails.org/summer

Lots of hotels in Marquette from mom & pop to the chains...lots to do for several days if you have a mind to.

Edited: 21 March 2013, 21:00
North Muskegon...
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9. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

You should have plenty of time to circle the Upper Peninsula in 9 days.

Not a lot of choices in highways up there so print out a map and mark the location of the suggestions given and use the highways as a guide for your trip.

Some attractions can be seen in the same day, while others may take a bit longer to experience.

Edited: 21 March 2013, 21:19
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United States
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10. Re: Upper Peninsula 8-9 day itinerary help!

Yes, don't forget Copper Harbor! It's pretty much all forest up here! We have a bike and kayak rentals there. The mountain bike trails recently go the IMBA Epic trail status. YOu should Google "Stairway to Heaven Copper Harbor" and check out the video of that ride! There is some good hiking...not long trails, but some nice walks. Like the Estevant Pines. There's the Fort Wilkins State Park with it's fort museum. Take a ride up Brockway Mountain and watch the freighters on the lake. If you are into scenic, rugged coastline than CH is the place to be. The town itself is small, but the Harbor Haus is probably my favorite restaurant.

Oh ya...miles and miles of beach!