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Three days in the Porcupine Mountains
Fill your days with wonder in the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County. Follow these suggestions for a truly unforgettable summer getaway to the Upper Peninsula.
Pick up supplies. Take Highway 45 and you’ll find the village of Ontonagon, which is home to restaurants, retailers and more that can help you gear up for your trip. Grab a bite to eat, pick up the essentials and then take a stroll through downtown. You can also find shopping and services in nearby White Pine, Mass City, Bruce Crossing and Greenland.
Watch a sunset over Lake Superior. After a day of driving and gearing up for your weekend adventures, it’s nice to be able to sit back and watch the sun go down over the waves on the greatest of the Great Lakes. Several Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County lodging properties sit right on the shores of Lake Superior (or offer easy lake access), and you can also find good sunset spots at places like Ontonagon Township Park or the beach at Union Bay.
Hike the trails of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This 60,000-acre natural area is home to one of the largest swaths of old-growth forest in the Midwest, so it’s perfect for exploration. Hikers can choose from nearly 90 miles of trails that crisscross the state park, from the one-mile Visitor Center Nature Trail, which introduces visitors to many of the natural features they’ll see throughout the park, to the challenging 17-mile Lake Superior Trail that offers outstanding views.
Go waterfall hunting. The landscape of the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County is peppered with waterfalls, from eye-catching cascades like Bond Falls to smaller falls tucked in the woodlands of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Up for a drive? Explore the Black River Scenic Byway in neighboring Gogebic County, where you’ll pass by Great Conglomerate Falls, Potawatomi Falls, Gorge Falls, Sandstone Falls and Rainbow Falls.
Discover the mystery of the Paulding Light. Is it the specter of a railroad worker or just a trick of the lights from the nearby highway? Head south of Ontonagon on Highway 45 to the unincorporated community of Paulding, which has drawn interested visitors for more than half a century. Launch your investigation into this spectral sight and come to your own conclusions.
Get an up-close look at the area’s mining history. Hop in the car and head to nearby Greenland to visit Adventure Mine, a once-operational mine that now offers several different tours. Strap on a hard hat and headlamp (provided to all visitors) and explore this interesting slice of history. Marvel at the massive underground chambers where miners removed copper and silver; if you’re more daring, take the Miner’s Underground Tour, where you’ll rappel down a mineshaft and crawl through small passages.
Explore more Keweenaw Heritage sites. Telling the story of the immigrants, industry and natural resources of the Upper Peninsula, Keweenaw Heritage Sites can be found throughout the western U.P., all the way up to Copper Harbor. Heritage sites in Ontonagon County include Adventure Mine, Old Victoria Restoration, the Ontonagon County Historical Society Museum and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Headquarters.
Note: Please travel safely and responsibly when you are visiting the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County. Some businesses and facilities may have modified hours or procedures; please contact them directly for information. See Michigan’s latest coronavirus orders here.
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