Five Reasons to Love Mountain Biking in the Upper Peninsula

Did you know that May is National Bike Month? To celebrate, we asked guest blogger Jessica Watson to tell us about her experience mountain biking in Copper Harbor. Here are five reasons to love mountain biking in the Upper Peninsula.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 12.47.27 PMAs a beginner mountain biker, I was a little nervous about going to Copper Harbor last summer. After all, their trail system is rated Silver by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), one of only four world-wide, and some of the trails will make your heart skip a beat, even if you are watching someone else do it from your computer room.

There is nothing to fear though, only an amazing, adventurous trip with biking through some of the most beautiful scenery that Michigan has to offer.

Let me share with you the five reasons why you should visit.

1. There are people there to help you, and they’re awesome people who drive you to the top of the mountains, fit you with a rental bike and help you get started by recommending trails based on your skill level. Find them at the Keweenaw Adventure Company.

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Keweenaw Mountain Lodge

2. ‘The Flow’ is hands down the most fun I have ever had, ever. Before I went I read online that you wouldn’t be able to wipe the smile off your face after The Flow, those people were right. And what’s great is that anyone can do it. The challenges in that trail make it fun for a beginner and an expert, depending on how fast you go.

3. When you get back from a long day on the trails, there are plenty of places to eat. Some of the food there simply blew my mind. I was not expecting any top notch meals during my trip, but I was so wrong. My favorite spots were the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge (I recommend the Spinach artichoke dip) and the Harbor Haus. They even have a microbrewery in town, Brickside Brewery. They offer an awesome ‘taste test’ platter, just make sure you have a ride back to your hotel or campground.

View from Harbor Haus

View from Harbor Haus

4. You see some amazing people do some amazing things. When we normal people are going down The Flow, we see a piece of one of the newest trails, Overflow, which is a double black diamond. Even though I can’t do it (yet), it’s cool to watch the experts fly by.

5. They have a Ladies Weekend. As a beginner, female rider, I think this is awesome. The event is a full weekend of riding with professional coaches and all aimed at helping women improve their skills.

Have you been mountain biking in the Upper Peninsula? Where did you go?

Jessica Watson Head ShotJessica Watson is a resident of Algonac, Mich. and loves to spend her summers outside on the boat or on a bike. New to mountain biking, she is learning the ropes quickly and looking to experience new rides in her home state. Last year she tried out Copper Harbor and this year Boyne Mountain is on her list.

Delicious Fall Desserts in the Upper Peninsula

Fall is a great time to indulge in some delicious desserts! Today, guest blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. tells us about some sensational sweet treats in the Upper Peninsula. 

Autumn is harvest time and as we all know, along with the harvest comes delicious fall desserts. I caught up with a few of the Upper Peninsula’s best bakers this month to highlight some of their fall inspired favorites.

Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie – Joe’s Cakes

Joe’s cakes within the historic Landmark Inn in Marquette is a standout Upper Peninsula bakery, and Joe’s sour cream apple walnut pie is one of his most popular desserts. When Joe Heck’s grandmother immigrated from Cuba, in his words “she couldn’t bake a pie or a cake to save her life.” But she found a book in the library with the recipe for this dessert translated into spanish and the rest is history.

Joe makes this pie with Michigan apples mixed with sour cream, fresh ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. The topping is made from house made molasses, brown sugar, walnut flour and chunks of walnuts. All of that goes into a traditional pie crust and gets baked “really slow, so the acid comes out of the apples and turns the sour cream into custard. In the end it’s really a spiced apple custard pie,” says Joe.

I had a few bites of this one at the Landmark and it was awesome. I then took the rest home for my wife to try and it was gone in seconds!

Pumpkin Pie Fudge – Donckers

Photo courtesy of Donckers

Candy chef Akasha from Donckers in Marquette makes an awesome pumpkin pie fudge. I’d never had pumpkin fudge until I tried it at Donckers, but I can imagine how the candied walnut crust on this dessert improves an already delicious treat.

Donckers also had some crazy good looking caramel apples on display. They’re “candy coated and caramel drenched honey crisp apples,” according to Donckers, and they also happen to be the best looking caramel apples I’ve ever seen.

Apple Pie – Upper Crust Deli

Linda Smith from the Upper Crust Bakery and Deli in Manistique makes a mean apple pie. She says it’s a simple apple pie that’s just thrown together, but she always uses Idared apples. I say that next to my mom’s, apple pie it’s one of the best I’ve had. Linda also makes an amazing chocolate pecan pie, the recipe for which came from her Grandma’s church cookbook. I’m seeing a theme with the Grandmas, here.

Pumpkin Everything! – Midtown Bakery

I didn’t get a chance to stop in the Midtown Bakery in Negaunee for “research” this time around, but Marybeth Kurz’s desserts are locally famous. Here’s what she had to say about her fall desserts:

“We are in full blown Pumpkin mode! We have ten different pumpkin cheesecakes, from plain pumpkin to pumpkin cranberry and almond, or pumpkin and buttered pecan. Our pumpkin spice cookie that has cinnamon chips, poached raisins and spices and rolled in coarse sanding sugar and more cinnamon has been a new big hot seller for us, too. Our Muffins featuring pumpkin are the first to fly off the shelf in the mornings!”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. There are dozens of great restaurants and bakeries in the Upper Peninsula that serve up delicious fall desserts, so consider this just an introduction!

How about you? What’s one of your favorite fall desserts?

A native Yooper, Jesse Land lives in Iron Mountain and enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, and camping with his family. He runs the Upper Peninsula travel site “Things to do in the U.P.”