Images from our trip around Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, July 20 – August 5, 2016.
Click to enlarge, read captions and view slideshow.
The first stop on our trip was Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin. This is the northern shore of Devil’s Island, where Lake Superior’s intense waves have eroded these sea caves.
Raspberry Island Lighthouse at Apostle Islands was built in 1862.
Near the Kettle Falls dam is the Kettle Falls Hotel. It catered to lumbermen and fishermen until the area became more popular with tourists. We had a great fried walleye dinner there.
First national park of the trip and our 42nd total, Voyageurs. 40% of the park is water and it is best accessed by boat. This is near the Kettle Falls Dam on our ranger-led evening cruise.
Our lodging for three nights was Arrowhead Lodge on Lake Kabetogama. It really felt like home, including the family dog, Decker.
Arrowhead Lodge offers kayaks free of charge for guest use. We used them to paddle 3 miles across Lake Kabetogama to the Locator Lake Trailhead.
After kayaking to the trailhead we hiked two miles to Locator Lake, where we had reserved a canoe to paddle around the lake.
Beaver pond along the Locator Lake Trail. We even got to see two of the residents, who slapped the water with their tails at us.
Back in the kayaks we paddled back to Arrowhead for a home-cooked dinner and beer in frosty mugs.
The following day we traded in our paddles for a motor boat, also rented from Arrowhead Lodge. We navigated 24 miles of Lake Kabetogama that day.
Our first stop on the motor boat was the Ash River Visitor Center. You can get there by car, but it’s more fun to pull up to the guest docks.
The Blind Ash Bay Trail near the Ash River Center leads to this stand of red pine trees.
Our other boating destination was Ellsworth Rock Gardens, a series of terraced flowerbeds created by a couple who had a summer home before the creation of the park. It is slowly being restored by volunteers.
Having some fun on the way from Voyageurs to Grand Portage.
Grand Portage National Monument commemorates a fur trade route that bypassed rapids on the Pigeon River and became a major trading post for voyageurs and natives. This view is from Mt. Rose
On the ground of the monument are reconstructed buildings like this canoe workshop. Costumed interpreters help bring the story to life. (but they’re good ones, so they’re not creepy)
Our evening in the Grand Portage lodge was spent organizing our gear for the backpacking portion of the trip at Isle Royale National Park. 40lbs on each of our backs.
Here’s a map of where we spent our time on Isle Royale (park #43). The island is 45 miles long. We spent our time on the eastern section, covering about 19 miles on foot.
We departed Grand Portage, MN at 7:30am on the Voyageur II (at right). It was a five hour boat ride to McCargoe cove, where we disembarked.
We began our hiking from McCargoe Cove and headed to West Chickenbone Lake. Lots of trail is on these elevated planks over wetlands.
Our first campsite at West Chickenbone Lake Campground. This was truly roughing it, we did our cooking with filtered pond water. We also learned a couple new card games from the nice ladies in the next campsite.
We took an evening walk to nearby Lake LeSage. Tranquil lakes like this are all over Isle Royale.
Day two of hiking led us along the Greenstone Ridge Trail. It runs the length of the island and offers spectacular overviews like this. The bluffs in the background are the Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Another view of the Greenstone Ridge Trail. We hiked eight miles that day from Chickenbone to Daisy Farm.
The 165 miles of trails on Isle Royale are not wide, well-groomed routes in general. Obstacles included mud and fallen trees. It was also unusually hot during our visit, with temperatures in the low 80s.
Another of the beautifully reflective ponds along our hike to Daisy Farm.
Upon arrival at Daisy Farm Campground we found an unoccupied shelter so we set up there. Campers still set up tents inside the shelters (spider defense), but it’s nice to have a level floor at least.
After filtering Lake Superior water for cooking our dehydrated food and drinking, we sat on the dock at Daisy Farm and watched the sun go down. With no artificial lights for miles, you need to carry a lantern or make your way back to your campsite by moonlight.
Morning at our Daisy Farm camp shelter. We took the opportunity to hang some wet clothes and spread out a bit. The only casualty were my sunglasses, which were left somewhere in this shelter.
Day three of hiking meant 7 miles of shoreline trail to get to Rock Harbor.
Suzy’s cove is a sea cave that was formed when lake levels were much higher. Now it sits well above the shoreline.
Our final camping night was at Rock Harbor, one of two areas in the park that has some amenities.
After having dinner in a real restaurant, we again watched the sun go down from a dock. Nothing more peaceful.
The Voyageur II docked at Rock Harbor waiting to take us back to Minnesota. At this point it had been three days since we’d had contact with the outside world.
Cruising out of Rock Harbor, we got a good view of the Rock Harbor Light, the oldest of the four lighthouses in the park, completed in 1856.
This is High Falls on the Pigeon River (Part of what the Grand Portage trail was avoiding). The left side is in Minnesota and the right side is Ontario, Canada.
After a night of laundry and steak dinners in Thunder Bay, we drove just west of town to Kakabeka Falls. The drop of 130 feet makes it one of the highest falls in Ontario after Niagara. Nick’s kick is dwarfed here.
North of Thunder Bay, we stopped at Ouimet Canyon. Two viewing platforms afford views into the 330 ft deep gorge.
We spent the night at the quaint Pic River Guest Suite near Marathon, Ontario. In the cool morning, the Pic River was steaming outside our door.
Our first Canadian National Park, Pukaskwa (PUCK-uh-saw). This long boardwalk crossed a big wetland along the Coastal Trail.
This park protects the largest stretch of undeveloped Great Lakes shoreline. It has a variety of terrain to cross.
The coastal trail is a 38-mile wilderness trail. We did the first segment as a day hike.
At mile 5.5 an awesome suspension bridge crosses the White River. It also makes a great lunch stop and is where we turned around to head back.
Looking down at the White River churning below.
A common site continuing around the Canadian side of Lake Superior. Bright blue water and high bluffs covered with trees. We didn’t expect this kind of scenery.
Agawa Rock in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park is the canvas for pictographs that are 150-400 years old.
We made a quick stop at the historic locks at Sault Ste. Marie, ON where ships make their way from Lake Superior to Lake Huron.
Heading back into the USA at Sault Ste. Marie
Upper Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is 50 feet tall and 200 feet wide.
Another Upper Peninsula classic is the Pastie, a pocket filled with beef, potatoes and onions and covered in gravy.
Pictured rocks National Lakeshore in the U.P. protects colorful bluffs and these massive sand dunes near Grand Marais.
We took another evening boat cruise at Pictured Rocks. This is the East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island just off the shore at Munising, MI.
Lovers Leap is a rock archway extending into Lake Superior.
This is what gave Pictured Rocks its name. Different minerals in the stone leech out with groundwater and stain the rock a variety of hues.
Mackinac Island is a popular tourist destination and is famous for not having any cars. All visitors arrive by boat and get around the island on foot, in a horse-drawn carriage or on bikes.
The 8-mile bike route that circles the island can get crowded.
Fort Holmes sits at the highest point on Mackinac Island, 310 feet above Lake Huron.
The five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge has connected the two peninsulas of Michigan since its completion in 1957.
We got the tent back out at Wilderness State Park on the tip of the Lower Peninsula. The view of the Milky Way from this International Dark Sky park was incredible.
Another fantastic Great Lakes sunset. This one is over Lake Michigan at Wilderness State Park.
Traverse City is a popular summer vacation town with miles of beaches and an impressive food and drink scene.
We started our day by driving out to the tip of the super-skinny Old Mission Peninsula. This lighthouse is almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole at 45 degrees latitude.
The Old Mission Peninsula is probably best known now as part of Michigan’s wine country. We started our tastings at 2 Lads (loved it) and continued here at Bowers Harbor.
Our third stop was at Chateau Chantal. A photographer taking pictures of the vines saw us sitting here and offered to take this pic. Pure Michigan.
Traverse City has some great cocktails too. We loved Low Bar, located under the 7 Monks Brewpub. Classic cocktails always mark our official return to civilization.
The dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore tower 450 feet above Lake Michigan. The people who went down should have thought about what it takes to hike up 450 vertical feet of soft sand.
The Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station has museum exhibits about the nautical culture of the area.
A pebble beach at Sleeping Bear Point.
In 2011, Good Morning America called Sleeping Bear Dunes the most beautiful place in the USA.
One last overnight stop was Ludington, Michigan, which is less tourist-developed than other Michigan lake towns, but is charming because of that. This is the Ludington North Breakwater Light.
This entry was posted in High Kick Photos
and tagged Agawa Rock
, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
, grand portage national monument
, Great Lakes Photos
, Great Lakes Road Trip
, Isle Royale National Park
, kakabeka falls
, Lake Superior
, Mackinac Island
, ouimet canyon
, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
, Pukaskwa National Park
, Sleeping Bear Dunes
, Traverse City
, Voyageurs National Park
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Wonderful shots. The Kakabeka Falls and the suspension bridge at Pukaskwa are instantly recognizable to me.
Thanks! What a great, undiscovered part of North American it is. Loved reading about your trip in the area. Sounds like we lucked out with the weather later in July.
I’m not sure what sort of weather you got but it felt like early spring to late fall when I was there. Did you get a chance to check out Lake Superior Provincial Park on your way down ?
We had nice summer weather the whole time. No rain, and temps probably around 25 during the day. Everyone kept telling us it was rare weather for the area. We drove through Lake Superior Provincial Park but only stopped briefly at Agawa Rock. I’d like to get back up there and also to Sleeping Giant.
Sleeping Giant is a must. Hiking the giant is a challenge but worth it. At Lake Superior PP, nothing beats Old Woman bay at sunset.
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