This week we asked our Pure Michigan Facebook community to share their favorite Upper Peninsula photos. From sunny summer landscapes to snow-capped forests and charming hidden gems, the Upper Peninsula boasts breathtaking scenery all year round. To showcase the U.P’s spectacular four-season beauty (and to give you a preview of warmer days to come), here’s a roundup of some stunning Upper Peninsula scenery from our fans.
Where is your favorite place to visit in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?
Did you know that there are more than 200 waterfalls in Michigan? Many of these are located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and are a beautiful sight to behold in any season. When the temperature drops during the deep winter months, the free-flowing falls freeze over and transform into magnificent winter wonders.
Michigan visitors and residents alike venture out to feast their eyes on these natural beauties (and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even learn how to ice climb one!). Some of these spectacular sights are relatively easy to access. Others require snowshoes, skis or a snowmobile. Find out how to access the frozen waterfall nearest you here.
In Michigan, you’re never more than six miles away from a natural water source. Why not take a day trip to marvel at Michigan’s frozen falls? For inspiration, here are eight fantastic photos of frozen Michigan waterfalls captured by our fans and other talented photographers around the state.
Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself? A. I am originally from Grand Rapids, and have lived happily in the U.P. for 7 years. My husband and I own a house in the middle of nowhere, where we enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding forest and nearby Lake Superior with our two dogs in tow.
Q. How did you get into snowshoeing? A. I began snowshoeing when I worked at a nature center in Holland, taking school groups for guided hikes during the winter. I made my first pair of snowshoes at a workshop taught by Alan Wernette at Ludington State Park, and he encouraged me to begin conducting my own workshops at Tahquamenon Falls.
Q. What is your favorite thing about snowshoeing? A. Snowshoes allow you to explore areas that are not accessible during other times of the year, such as wetlands and peatlands. Once these areas are covered with snow, it’s easy to “walk on water” and check out what is on the other side. Snowshoeing is also a great way to stay active during the winter and burn off those holiday calories!
Q. What makes snowshoeing so unique compared to other winter activities?
A. Snowshoeing can be a quiet activity, giving you the ability to hear birds calling nearby or wildlife rustling through the brush. It allows you to move about without disturbing the wildlife that lives in the area. It is also nearly impossible to get lost while snowshoeing, because you can always follow your tracks back to where you started!
Q. Do you have some favorite places to go snowshoeing? A. My favorite place to snowshoe is the Clark Lake Natural Area, in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, north of the Lower Falls entrance. That area typically has deep snow, and it’s easy to find places where no one else has hiked, so you can go off in search of animal tracks.
Q. What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in starting to snowshoe? A. Try out different types of snowshoes to see what kind works best for you. Many of our state park visitor centers offer guided snowshoe hikes and have a variety of styles that you can try free of charge. Porcupine Mountains, Tahquamenon Falls, Hartwick Pines and Ludington all have snowshoes that visitors can check out and staff that can answer questions about snowshoeing.
Q. What equipment is needed to start snowshoeing? A. Winter boots and snowshoes are the only two requirements. It can be helpful to use cross country ski poles as walking sticks, both for balance and to provide an upper body workout. People get pretty warm while snowshoeing, so dressing in layers is recommended. A good rule of thumb is to dress so you start your snowshoe hike a little cold; you’ll warm up in no time!
Q. What is your favorite thing to do after a long snowshoe trip? A. Take a nice hot sauna to loosen my muscles.
Q. What are some of your favorite winter activities when you aren’t snowshoeing? A. I enjoy cross country skiing, especially along Lake Superior around the Whitefish Point area, where I can blaze my own trail through wind-swept snowdrifts! I also like fishing through the ice, particularly for smelt and walleye.
Q. To you, what is “Pure Michigan”? A. Pure Michigan is taking a walk through the woods, breathing air filled with smells of the forest, and hearing nothing but the sound of your own footsteps.
Melting snow feeds a web of rushing rivers across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and creates more than 200 waterfalls. Springtime is prime time for waterfall viewing, so Michigan Travel Ideaseditorscompiled a list of some of the most impressive in the state.
Tahquamenon Falls – Paradise At a remarkable 50 feet tall and 200 feet wide, the easily accessible Upper Tahquamenon Falls are the largest in Michigan. In fact, during spring, more than 50,000 gallons of water drop each second, putting the falls in the top five largest east of the Mississippi River. The low rumble you hear from the parking lot builds to a thundering roar along the short path. Arriving at the wooden observation deck, you’ll see the reason for the nickname of Root Beer Falls (cedar tannins tinge the water brown) and feel a cool mist. Four miles downstream, the Lower Tahquamenon Falls split in two, with each half more than 100 feet wide and 22 feet tall. Rent a rowboat for a better look (and better photos) from the water. If you only get a chance to visit one waterfall this season, the Tahquamenon Falls are a definite must-see. For more information: 906/492-3415.
Spray Falls – Munising Take a boat ride on Lake Superior to see Spray Falls plunge almost 70 feet over the Pictured Rocks cliffs. Hikers take the 2-mile-long North Country Trail to the remote falls. For more information: 906/387-3700.
Bond Falls – Haight Park at the base of the falls and snap some incredible photographs from the viewing platforms along the 600-foot boardwalk. For more information: 906/353-6558.
Cascade Falls – Matchwood Half the fun of this waterfall is exploring Porcupine Wilderness State Park on the way. Take the Valley Trail for a shorter hike, or if you’re up for a challenge, Bluff Trail provides a more demanding climb. For more information: 906/884-2047.
Gorge Falls – Ironwood Five striking waterfalls dot the Black River National Forest Scenic Byway on its way to Black River Harbor. Gorge Falls is one of the easiest to access, but even it has quite a few stairs to the overlook. For more information: 906/932-1330.
Q. A lot of people have heard of skiing and snowmobiling, but may not be familiar with snowshoeing. What is it? A. Snowshoeing is a unique form of transportation that was developed thousands of years ago specifically for winter travel by foot. Native Americans were the innovators of snowshoe design, with varied styles depending on the snow conditions. Each snowshoe is designed with the basic idea of staying atop deep snow, sinking only 3-6 inches versus above the knee. Snowshoes allow for easier, quicker travel over snow-covered terrain and have developed into a popular winter activity.
Q. Where are some places where people like to snowshoe in Michigan? A. Any place with 6 inches or more of snow is a good place to start snowshoeing! Michigan winters provide snowshoeing opportunities pretty much everywhere. Some state parks offer packed snowshoe trails, which are nice for beginners and small children. However, most people find blazing their own trail to be a fun and exciting way to explore places others have not been. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are filled with publicly-owned land that is perfect for exploration on snowshoes, particularly Wilderness State Park, Hartwick Pines State Park and the Porcupine Mountains.
Q. Are there different kinds of snowshoes? A. Yes, there are hundreds of different snowshoes available out there. Modern snowshoes usually consist of an aluminum frame with a plastic decking. Traditional snowshoes are wood framed, with either rawhide, neoprene or nylon lacing. While modern snowshoes can be less expensive, the quality varies greatly and I often see visitors carrying their snowshoes back from a hike due to a broken binding or torn plastic decking. Traditional snowshoes require some maintenance, and can be slightly heavier and more expensive than the modern versions, but they are adjustable and problems can often be repaired.
Most snowshoes have rounded toes, with the exception of the Ojibwa style, which has a pointed toe. Pointed toes were designed to “plow” through very deep, light fluffy snow and to break through ice-crusted snow. Snowshoe tails are designed to drag through the snow, and are either rounded or pointed. Rounded tails result in a smaller snowshoe, but tend to offer more resistance and kick up snow toward your back as you walk. Pointed tails result in a longer snowshoe, but offer less resistance as you walk and basically glide through the snow.
Q. Can you give some information on the Make Your Own Snowshoe Workshop on December 17? A. Participants in the one-day workshop will make their own pair of traditional wooden framed snowshoes by weaving a nylon lacing material to create the decking. The workshop is limited to 15 participants, so there is plenty of one-on-one instruction to coincide with a step-by-step guide book to learn the proper snowshoe lacing technique. It takes about 3-4 hours to complete one snowshoe, and participants are welcome to bring a friend to help speed along the lacing process. The kit includes two wooden frames, lacing material and bindings for $170. The workshop takes place at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Restaurant at the Upper Falls, which provides a great atmosphere with awesome food and drinks to assist the weaving process.
Q. Can you snowshoe at Tahquamenon Falls State Park? A. Yes! Snowshoeing has become a popular recreational activity at Tahquamenon Falls. We have a 3.8 mile groomed cross country ski trail, which snowshoers often utilize (to the side of the groomed tracks), as well as two packed snowshoe trails at the Upper Falls. The best snowshoeing at Tahquamenon is to blaze your own trail through the forest, or over the extensive peatland complex that is too wet during the summer to explore. Many visitors park at the Lower Fall sand snowshoe the marked trails, or take off to the north on their own adventure. There are heated restroom facilities at the UpperFalls, and outhouses at the Lower Falls.
Q. Are there other winter activities in the Park that you would like to mention? A. Every Saturday in February, we offer free snowshoe rental from 12-8 p.m., a guided snowshoe hike at 2 p.m., followed by a one mile lantern-lit ski/snowshoe trail from 6-8 p.m. The 3.8 mile Giant Pines Loop will be groomed, with a set track, as soon as we get enough snow. Please call (906) 492-3415 or check out www.michigan.gov/dnrvisitorcenters for more information.