It has been a long, lost summer as far as camping goes- only one very short trip to northern Minnesota in August. Otherwise we stayed close to home. We had managed to stay healthy and with the arrival of September we decided we needed to go camping. A road trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula would provide a needed dose of nature with fall color and allow us to escape the quarantine for a bit.
We headed for the Ottawa National Forest's Black River Harbor campground on Lake Superior north of Bessemer, Michigan
|Campsite through the trees|
|Sunset through the smoke|
|Message on the beach|
|Overlooking Lake Superior from the campground|
|Evening campfires are part of our camping ritual|
The next day we explored the surroundings, visiting nearby waterfalls and enjoying walks in the woods. We returned to camp in the afternoon to relax, read our books and gather more firewood.
The Black River drops 200 feet in the last two miles before reaching Lake Superior. There are 5 waterfalls along this stretch, with trails and overlooks for sightseeing. Water levels were low compared to the spring runoff, but the waterfalls were still beautiful.
|Kathy at Potawatomi Falls|
|Nice walk in the woods|
|Fall color is coming|
|Downstream from Conglomerate Falls|
|Downstream from Rainbow Falls|
|Lots of steps up from Rainbow Falls|
Scenes from woodland walks:
The next day we decided to do some back country exploring to find our way to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. As usual, our DeLorme map book did not match the roads on the ground. The GPS was not much help. We followed small forest roads to many gates and dead ends, and had fun doing it.
|Exploring back roads|
Eventually we resorted to the main roads. Along the way we enjoyed the fall colors. We guessed we were a few days before peak color but it was beautiful nonetheless.
|Roadside fall color|
We came around a bend in the road to see an unusual construction reaching for the sky. What is that? We decided to check it out. It turned out to be the Copper Peak- reported to be the only ski flying hill outside of Europe. Ski flying events have not been held there since 1994, but plans are in the works to bring them back. Now, chairlift rides up the hill can be had in the summer, with an elevator to the top of the jump. You have to walk the final 8 stories to get the view from the very top- 26 stories up in the air. I can't imagine sliding off that thing on skis. We did not take the ride but you can see photos here: https://www.instagram.com/copperpeak/
|What is that?|
|View from the parking lot below|
|The landing hill|
Along the way we passed several trailheads for the North Country Trail, which follows the Black River on its way from North Dakota to Vermont.
|Signpost at North Country Trail|
The main attraction for us at Porcupine Mountains this trip was the overlook to Lake of the Clouds. We anticipated a great view of the fall colors and were not disappointed. Granite cliffs, Lake of the Clouds and the Presque Isle River were framed by wonderful fall foliage.
|Lake of the Clouds|
|Presque Isle River|
|River and mountains|
|River, mountains and granite|
Before heading to the Porcupine Mountains we explored the Black River Harbor park. An old fishing boat that had seen better days was displayed with some information about its life in the old days.
At the harbor there is an interesting suspension bridge over the river which allow access to a fine Lake Superior sand beach. The bridge was originally built by the CCC in 1938-39 and reconstructed by the USFS in 1968. We enjoyed walking across the bridge, checking out the construction details and feeling it respond to our movements.
|Signpost at suspension bridge|
|Entrance to the bridge|
|Bridge from the walkway below|
|The harbor walkway|
|Another view of the bridge tower|
|Another cable detail|
|Plaque from 1968 rebuild|
|Stone anchor block|
|View of Black River from bridge|
|Black River Harbor entrance|
|View of Lake Superior at harbor jetty|
|Looking to the harbor from the bridge|
With commitments at home we had to end our stay at Black River Harbor. The drive home was sweet with the fall display in full swing. Spectacular vistas of forested hills and sparkling lakes kept us entertained and provided a fitting conclusion to a fine trip.
|Wisconsin lunch spot on the drive home|