Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: state park (Page 1 of 3)

Hiking Porcupine Mountains: Summit Peak

The view from the Summit Peak observation tower

The observation tower atop Summit Peak is the highest point in Michigan at close to 2,000 feet above sea level. The hike is less than a mile round trip but with a 223 ft elevation gain, the half a mile hike to the tower is nothing to sneeze at. The hike to the tower is uphill the whole way, and let me tell you, my legs felt it. Luckily, there is a bench at the top to rest before climbing the stairs to the observation tower.

From the top of the tower, you can see the many hills of the Porkies as well as the crystal clear Lake Superior waters. On a clear day, you can see Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands from up there. It really is a beautiful place to stop and take in the magestic beauty that is the Upper Peninsula.

Once you make it to the top of the tower, the hard part is over. You can breathe easy as you hike almost a half-mile back to the parking lot, waving to the out of breath hikers you pass. While one of the shortest hikes in the park, Summit Peak is not for the faint of heart. We passed a few people contemplating whether or not they would be able to make it to the top.

As I mentioned in a previous Porcupine Mountains post, if you are not an avid hiker, you are going to want to train for your trip to The Porkies. The Lake of the Clouds Overlook and the Preque Isle trails are fairly easy, but some pretty intense hiking is required to see the rest of the park. Almost all of the trails in Porcupine Mountains are rated either moderate or difficult, according to All Trails. A backcountry hiking trip is really the best way to fully see the park, but of course, backpacking is not for the faint of heart.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our summer road trip, check out my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Potholes

Presque Isle Waterfalls

Manhabezo Falls

Located 25 miles from the Union Bay area, the Presque Isle area of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is like a whole different park. This section of the park is home to three waterfalls: Manabezho Falls, Manido Falls,  and Nawadaha Falls. A moderate hike of about two and a quarter miles will take you to these three falls.

These picturesque falls are all on the Presque Isle River and the water flows from up in the Porcupine Mountains and it wears down the rocky bedrock as it travels into Lake Superior. As in the case of what is known as “the potholes”, the swirling water has cut half circles out of the rock and is really interesting to watch from above on the rope bridge.

Manido Falls

My one complaint about the area is that with all the foliage, the various falls can be difficult to see from the observation areas. You can’t even really see Nawadaha Falls on the parking lot side of the river. There are signs all over telling you to stay on the path and if they really want people to do that, they should trim the trees that block the views from the platforms (see the large leaf in the above photo of Manido Falls). If people see the falls from the viewing areas, they are much less likely to go off the path and do something unsafe to get that photo.

When you get to the Presque Isle section of the park, there are a few different parking areas so you don’t have to hike the full 2.3 miles to see these waterfalls. There are three different parking areas and the one closest to the ranger station allows for ADA accessible viewing of Nawadaha falls. The rest of the falls do require some stair climbing to get to view. This is one of the most accessible parts of the Porcupine Mountains because you don’t have to climb any mountains to see these waterfalls!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out our Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Porcupine Overlook

Wordless Wednesday: Bay Boulder

Porcupine Mountains: Union Bay

Union Bay is an inlet on Lake Superior at the northern boundary of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Before entering the park, you drive by a few roadside beaches where you can play in the icy cool Superior waters.

Our waterfront site on Union Bay

During our time at the Porkies, we stayed at the modern Union Bay campground. We tend to prefer rustic camping, but the rustic Presque Isle campground is on the other end of the park and far away from the sites we wanted to see. We spent the first two nights in an interior site, which, like many Michigan State Park campgrounds, was in an open, grassy area with all the RVs and big rigs, listening to the hum of their air conditioners all night long. For the third night, I scored a waterfront site right on the water (left). Down by the water, it was like a whole other park. The sites are bigger and more private. While it’s not sandy, each site has its own bit of shoreline that you can swim or launch a kayak from. If you want to go to Porcupine Mountains, plan ahead and book early so you can score one of these most coveted spots. You will not be disappointed.

Paddling Union Bay

We borrowed an inflatable Kayak for this trip so one of our days at the Porcupine Mountains when the water was calm, we headed out onto the lake. I will have to talk about blow-up kayaks on this site at a later date because we learned a lot from that short little paddle. I was glad we had calm waters because that boat would not have handled waves well at all. But, I was glad we had it with us because I would have been really disappointed if we were this close to Lake Superior and stuck on land.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Union Bay

Porcupine Mountains: Lake of the Clouds

The Lake of the Clouds overlook is the most famous view in the Porcupine Mountains and one of the most famous views in all of Michigan. It shouldn’t be surprising that Lake of the Clouds was our first stop after arriving at Michigan’s largest state park. This was my first time at Porcupine Mountains although Chris did a backpacking trip through the park in high school. It was nice to have a private tour guide on this visit!

The 60,000-acre park is home to 35,000 acres of old-growth forest and is one of few remaining wilderness areas in the midwest. There are 90 miles of hiking trails in the park as well as many opportunities for camping. There is a disc-golf course and in the winter it is a big skiing destination. Of course, photos I’ve seen of the park in fall are absolutely breathtaking.

After checking out the iconic Lake of the Clouds view, we did a short evening hike on the Union Mine trail. At a little over a mile, the flat, interpretive trail is one of the easiest in the park. The trail takes you by remnants of the abandoned Union Mine, an abandoned copper mine. But, the biggest draw for this trail is its numerous small waterfalls (left). I’ve been told in the spring, the views on this trail are breathtaking! I was surprised to see these falls documented in my Michigan Waterfalls book when we got back to the car.

One thing to note about Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is that it really is a wilderness. The ADA accessible Lake of the Clouds overlook is one of the only things to do in the park that doesn’t involve backcountry hiking with some steep elevation. If you are not in great shape, its a good idea to do some conditioning before heading to the park.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Best Campgrounds in Michigan for Tent Camping

Sunset at McLain State Park

Camping seems to be the thing to do this summer, to get away from the crowds and get into nature. With so many new campers, I thought now would be a good time to share my favorite places to get into nature in Michigan. It is important to note that many of these campgrounds fill up on summer weekends, so definitely try to make reservations early!

When looking for campgrounds for tent camping, I’m looking for:

  • Privacy: without a big RV to retreat to, I prefer to have some trees separating me from my neighbors
  • View: my favorite campsites in Michigan are usually near a body of water and being able to see it from your site is unbeatable
  • Location: we are not the kind of campers that hang around the campground all day. We like campgrounds with activities nearby, whether it be hiking, boating or a town to explore
  • Cleanliness: while I haven’t had an issue with any campground in Michigan being unhygienic, the ones that made this list are clean.
  • Rustic vs. modern: I don’t need electric service while camping. I have learned that everything I need to power (mainly charging phones and camera batteries) can be powered through the AC adapter in my car. Modern bathhouses and showers are a plus but I am not opposed to an outhouse. I haven’t been brave enough to try dispersed camping without an outhouse yet.

With those parameters in place, here are my favorite campgrounds in Michigan, in no particular order:

D.H. Day Campground

D.H. Day is located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This campground only recently started taking reservations, before that people literally lined up early in the morning to get a site here and after camping here, I understand why. It is a rustic campground but campers do have access to the showers at Platte River (the modern campground in the park). The sites are big and very private and there is a nice beach located within the campground. When I booked, the only sites available were in the generator loop. With the rules about when generators can be run, it was pretty peaceful. Reservations are accepted from May to October. The rest of the year it is still first come, first served. With online reservations, D.H. Day books up early. You can book 6 months out at Recreation.gov.

Fisherman’s Island

Fisherman’s Island State Park is located near Charlevoix. The waterfront sites here are AMAZING and can fit a tent or small trailer. You basically have a small beach on Lake Michigan to yourself. This is a completely rustic campground but the setting is totally worth it! It is very quiet and it’s not too hard to get a site in peak season although the waterfront sites book up early. To book, visit midnrreservations.com.


Tahquamenon Falls – Rivermouth Pines

Like many Michigan State Parks, Tahquamenon Falls in the U.P. is a large park with many campgrounds throughout. My favorite has to be Rivermouth Pines. Located away from the falls where the Tahquamenon River meets Lake Superior, this area is off the beaten path and quiet. They are well spaced out and some of them are right on the water. The sites in this area are rustic but it is within walking distance to the Rivermouth campground where there is a modern bathhouse. To book visit, midnrreservations.com.

Hoeft State Park

Hoeft State Park, located near Rogers City, is really a hidden gem of the Michigan State Park system. It has a gorgeous Lake Huron beach and is near the Huron-Sunrise trail which is a popular biking destination. The sites are large and spread out with electric service and a modern bathhouse. One of the best things about this park is that is typically pretty easy to get a site and only really fills up on holiday weekends. Its still a good idea to reserve a site ahead of time at midrnreservations.com.

Straits State Park

Straits State Park in St. Ignace is the only campground that we routinely return to. It is very close to downtown St. Ignace so it’s very convenient if you are planning on visiting Mackinac Island. But what keeps me coming back to this park are the waterfront, bridge view sites. Even if you can’t get right on the water, both lower campgrounds have great views of the bridge and there is a little bench on the water where you can sit if you didn’t score a bridge-view site. The sites right on the water do not have electric service but Straits has the best showers in all of the state park system. The waterfront sites tend to fill up quickly but are easier to get during the week. To book, visit Midnrreservations.com.

Update after visiting 7/24/2020: Over the last few years the bridge view sites have opened up for the bigger rigs. What this means is that unless you can score one of those sites, you can’t really see the bridge from your site. Also, this makes the campground feel much more crowded than in the past. Some of that might just be that people are fleeing to nature this summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get up there next summer and see if its calmed down at all. As of right now, I no longer recommend this campground for tents unless you can get one of those bridge view sites!

Hartwick Pines State Park

Hartwick Pines State Park is located near Grayling. The park has one modern campground and even has a few full hookup sites for the big rigs. But even with all of that, the sites are private and the park was very quiet when I visited. It also has a recently renovated shower house with some of the nicest showers in the state park system. The park has many hiking trails, a logging museum, and a lake for paddling or fishing. This campground worked out well for us as the first stop on our UP road trip, allowing us to do some of the drive on Friday night. Sites can be reserved at midnrreservations.com.

 

McLain State Park

In the Keewenaw peninsula near Hancock, McLain wins the award for best campground view ever. Perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior, offers a stunning view of both the sunrise and sunset over Lake Superior! The sites are kind of close and don’t offer a lot of privacy, but they do have electric service. Since I’ve been there, they did a major refurbishment of the campground since some of the cliffs had eroded and they lost some of the sites. With the renovation a new bathhouse which was sorely needed. While this isn’t the most popular campground, its not a bad idea to book a site in advance at midnrreservations.com

Wilderness State Park

Wilderness State Park, located near Mackinaw City, is one of the biggest state parks in the lower peninsula and has several typical state park campgrounds. A few years ago they added these amazing waterfront tent sites (double letter sites AA, BB, etc). These sites are very private and quiet, except for the road noise you get because they are right at the entrance to the park. What is amazing about these sites is that they sit right on the water so each site essentially has its own private beach. These sites are rustic but there is a modern bathroom at the nearby entrance station. These sites are set slightly off from where the parking is so they are not accessible for any kind of trailer. There are only a handful of these sites so it is best to reserve them early on midnrreservations.com.

Bay Furnace Campground

Located in Christmas, Michigan not far from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Bay Furnace is a National Forest Service campground. It is completely rustic with outhouses but the sites are very private and the campground is very quiet. Of course, the park also has a beautiful, rocky beach on Lake Superior which is a great place to watch the sunset at the end of the day. Bay Furnace is one of the only campgrounds in the area that takes advanced reservations. The campgrounds at Pictured Rocks do now take reservations, but they are pretty small and fill up quickly so Bay Furnace is a great alternative. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov.

Due to high water levels in the great lakes, some of the best sites have been (hopefully only temporarily) lost to the lakes. Jack Pine campground at Ludington State Park is a hike in campground and one of my absolute favorite campgrounds in the state but it has been flooding lately. This has been a problem at Leelanau State Park as well as Tawas. Hopefully, water levels will go back down and these campgrounds will become accessible again.

Thanks for stopping by! What is your favorite campground in Michigan? Let me know in the comments! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Fort Holmes

A few months ago, if you would’ve asked me how many forts the were managed by the Mackinac State Historic Parks, I would’ve told you two: For Mackinac on the island and Fort Michilimackinac near Mackinaw City. On our recent trip to Mackinac Island, I learned of a third fort, Fort Holmes. Fort Mackinac is one of the most popular attractions on the island and at $13.50 per person to visit, it can get expensive for a family to visit. If you’re up for it, head to Fort Holmes (top), at the highest point on the island, instead. While there aren’t demonstrations or a tea room, Fort Holmes is free to visit.

The fort was constructed by the British during the War of 1812 to protect the vulnerable backside of Fort Mackinac. This blind spot allowed the British to take the fort from the Americans during the first battle of the War of 1812. When it was built in 1814, the British named it Fort George after King George III. After the Americans won the fort back at the end of the war, it was renamed to Fort Holmes in honor of of American Major Andrew Hunter Holmes who was killed in the 1814 battle of Mackinac Island.

Shortly after the war, the fort was abandoned and went into decay. Fort Holmes, along with Fort Mackinac was made the 2nd National Park after Yellowstone. In 1895 the land was transferred to the state and became Michigan’s first state park. In 1935, as part of the WPA, the fort was reconstructed but once again went into decay. In 2015, The Mackinac State Parks completed a historic recreation of the building and now it looks the same as it did 200 years ago. Hopefully this time it will be better preserved for future generations. Being the highest point on the island, this is also a great spot to take in a beautiful view of the Straits of Mackinac.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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