Michigan’s Garden Peninsula

My boyfriend, Nic, and I rarely have time off together during the summer months. We both work opposite schedules and it is hard to plan trips. We have been planning a trip to the Garden Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula for a while, and this Sunday we finally found time to do it.  It is less than 2 hours away from Marquette, but neither of us have explored that part of the UP.

We started out by driving straight from Marquette to Fayette Historic State Park. It was 94 degrees out and the sun was blazing, which is becoming a common theme for weather up here. The abandoned iron ore smelting town sits on this beautiful bay on Lake Michigan, surrounded by limestone cliffs. The contrast of the limestone buildings with the blue sky and water was picture perfect. We walked around the site for a little bit and then went on a trail out to the cliffs. A couple of schooners came in the harbor while we were there, adding to the historic scenery. Because it was so hot, we didn’t get to explore the whole site and trails. I guess we will have to go back again!

We left the state park sweating and needing a swim. We drove father South on the peninsula to search for Sac Bay. Nic and I don’t have a GPS system. Mainly because we like taking back roads and also because I don’t trust those things. We use the compass on the car and an old Michigan state atlas for navigation. It usually leads us to fun places 🙂 I saw Sac Bay on the map and it looked like a nice place to swim. We got a little lost along the way and ended up cruising through dirt roads lined with cow pastures, but we eventually made it. I learned that cows do not come to “Here cow! Come here!” and excessive mooing. I wished that I could have gotten more pictures of this trip. Sadly my camera died midway through the hike in Fayette and I had to settle for a few cell phone pictures.

I was instructed by a coworker to visit Threefold Vine Winery while we were in the Garden Peninsula and we are glad that we took that advice. It is a working farm with fresh eggs, greens and livestock. They also grow grapes for wine and produce honey for mead. I have never had mead before. It is delicious! We chatted with the owner for a little while, as we sipped on free wine samples. After buying 3 bottles of wine and mead, and a dozen eggs from her son, we had permission to wander around the farm. I told Nic that I wanted to have a farm someday. We both concluded that our dry erase board that we use for our “to-do” list, wouldn’t be big enough if we bought a farm.

We drove into Manistique, hoping to find a place to eat but everything was closed on Sunday. We went to our next destination of Kitchitikipi, or Big Spring. This is a place that you cannot miss if you are in the area. It is the biggest natural spring in the United States and over 10,000 gallons per minute bubble out of the bottom of this crystal clear pond. There is a raft on a cable that you can use to pull yourself across the spring. It is around 40 feet deep and full of huge trout.

Nic and I decided to take the back way while returning to Marquette. We drove up through the Hiawatha National Forest on dirt roads, meandering between several inland lakes. We made a note to do this drive again someday and scoped out some good camping spots. We went to the Brownstone Inn for dinner in AuTrain to cap off the adventure. It is amazing what you can discover in one day in the Upper Peninsula!


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