Marquette - Negaunee - Au Train

This Central Upper Peninsula fall driving tour includes tree-lined country roads, waterfalls, historic sites and a stunning drive along the Lake Superior shore. Any road winding through the Central U.P. will show you trees ranging from a subtle yellow to brilliant red from mid-September to early October. The peace and quiet of this period is unmatched at any other time of the year.

Best Enjoyed: Mid-September to Early October
Approximate Length: 185 miles

Begin your tour in Marquette, the Upper Peninsula's largest city. Before heading out of town, be sure to visit the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse leased by the Marquette Maritime Museum. The lighthouse was constructed in 1866 and is the oldest significant structure in the city and more importantly, the lighthouse is one of the most historic navigation beacons on Lake Superior.

Presque Isle Park is also worth a visit. As Marquette's recreational crown jewel, the 323 acre forested oval shaped park juts into Lake Superior in the northern tip of the City and is served by a number of foot trails. There are a number of scenic turnouts for those wishing to stop and travel by foot on a portion, or simply enjoy the scenery.

As you leave Marquette, head north on County Road 550 to Big Bay. The 35 minute ride is an impressive drive through cut rock harboring a beautiful array of fall color. If you're feeling adventurous, you may want to stop and climb Sugerloaf Mountain, a 20 minute hike.

In Big Bay, you'll find Thunder Bay Inn, a historic lumber baron inn, used as a location for the film "Anatomy of a Murder." Stop in and visit the gift shop or restaurant and pub. Also call the Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast to schedule a tour of one of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country.

The return trip from Big Bay along County Road 510 will take you through the majestic Huron Mountains and through trees which arch over the roadway to form a tunnel of color.

At US-41 take a right and head south into Negaunee. While in Negaunee visit the Michigan Iron Industry Museum which includes hands-on exhibits, outdoor interpretive paths and is the site of the first iron forge in the Lake Superior region. As you leave Negaunee, follow M-28 to Ishpeming, home of the National Ski Hall of Fame. Then take County Road 476 to Palmer.

From Palmer, follow M-35 south to Gwinn. The Anderson Lake West State Forest Campground offers hiking and mountain biking opportunities on six miles of rolling terrain. Continue south on M-35 to Little Lake and take County Road 456 east to US-41. Take a left on US-41 heading north to M-94. Turn right on M-94 to Chatham. Three miles north off M-94 at Sundell is Laughing Whitefish Falls, one of the Upper Peninsula's many impressive waterfalls. The site features a mile of foot trails, picnic area with water pump and three observation decks overlooking the falls.

Continue east until you reach H-03 located between Chatham and Forest Lake. Drive north on H-03 along the AuTrain River and past scenic AuTrain Lake until you reach the junction of M-28. Travel east along the Lake Superior shoreline on M-28. For a short hike, stop at Tyoga Pathway, 12 miles west of AuTrain. Complete your tour by continuing west on M-28 back to Marquette.
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
300 North Lakeshore Blvd
Marquette, MI 49855
Reservations: (906) 226-2006
Phone: (906) 226-2006
The Marquette Maritime Museum is pleased to offer guided lighthouse tours of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. This is the only way to view this picturesque light as it is currently located on an active U.S. Coast Guard Base. Tours run daily mid-May through mid-October. Please call ahead for specific tour times. Group tours can also be arranged by calling the Museum. The tour consists of a walk through the Coast Guard grounds where visitors will get a brief history of life-saving in Marquette, MI before reaching the light. Once there, visitors are treated to the history of the lighthouse and get to explore the grounds and the living quarters. The tour ends with a majestic walk down the front catwalk. This is the only place to get a photograph of the front of the lighthouse and also see Marquette's historic shoreline. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us, visit our website. The museum tells a rich rewarding story of the maritime heritage of Marquette and Lake Superior. Exhibits include birch bark canoes, a "Fresno" lighthouse lens, mini auditorium. Antique inboard and outboard motors, restored boats, shipwreck charts, and displays, 40' coast guard vessels, 36' coast guard lifeboat restoration and ore boat flags and related memorabilia. The museum is on the national historic places register.
Thunder Bay Inn
400 Bensinger
Big Bay , MI 49808
Reservations: (906) 345-9220
Phone: (906) 345-9220
This historical hotel is located in the heart of Big Bay, and overlooks Lake Independence. It was built in 1911 and converted to an Inn by Henry Ford in the 1940's. The pub was added in 1959 for the filming of the movie "Anatomy of a Murder". The Inn features a large lobby with large fireplace, casual dining and beverage service, gift shop and fourteen rooms, all decorated with antiques and period styling. Conference facilities are also available. We are located 25 miles north of Marquette on Co. Rd. 550. Open year round for the outdoor enthusiast from 11:00 am to midnight daily.
Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast
3 Lighthouse Road
Big Bay, MI 49808
Phone: (906) 345-9957
One of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country, our guests enjoy half-mile of Lake Superior shore, viewing tower, sauna, library and fireplaces. Enjoy biking, waterfalls, skiing and snowmobiling nearby. Summer lighthouse tours available.
Michigan Iron Industry Museum
73 Forge Road
Negaunee, MI 49866
Phone: (906) 475-7857
Amid the forested ravines of the Marquette Iron Range, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum overlooks the Carp River and the site of the first iron forge in the Lake Superior region. Note: There is a new entrance to the museum that may not yet be reflected on mapping applications. The new entrance is off US-41 E, one mile west of Junction M-35. It is clearly marked by MDOT highway signs and a museum sign.
U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame and Museum
610 Palms Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849
Phone: (906) 485-6323
We honor more than 291 men and women whose contributions and achievements have enriched the sport. You'll be inspired by this museum, and you can't miss the big building with it's peaked roof that resembles a ski jump. There is an 18 minute video on the history of skiing and a 12 minute handicapped skiers video.
Anderson Lake West State Forest Campground & Trail
County Road 557
Gwinn, MI 49841
Phone: (906) 786-2351
Phone number listed is for the Management Unit. Sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Walk-in reservations only. There are 19 sites for tent and small trailer use, 10 of which can accommodate 40-ft vehicle/trailer. A pathway trailhead is located in campground for hiking/mountain biking possibilities. Rustic campground includes vault toilets and potable water from well hand pump.
Tyoga Pathway
Escanaba River State Forest
M-28 & Campground Road
AuTrain, MI 49806
Phone: (906) 346-9201
1.4 mile loop takes hikers around the onetime village around the lumber mill and general store. They were built in 1906 by the Tyoga Lumber Company, from Pennsylvania. The townsite's location was deduced by two U.P. history buffs. 22 interpretive signs with photographs are installed around the loop. Wear waterproof footgear; it's wet here in summer.