The Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or simply known as “UP”, has been in our fall season travel bucket list for a long time, but we never made it there because it is located too far away. This year, we decided to do some social distancing in the UP to catch some fall colors. Due to the vast area, we focused on the central and eastern parts this time.
The drive to the UP took about 7.5 hours and the cats-and-dogs rain throughout the drive also contributed to the long drive. Fittingly, we tuned in to Wisconsin’s Big Cheese 107.9 listening to many classic hits while making our ways to Michigan. Before arriving in Munising — the place we called home for 4 nights, we did a short hike in the rain in Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park.
We started our day at 5:30 AM everyday, and due to the time change, it was actually 4:30 AM. The main focus of this trip was to cover the attractions in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Given the wet week, we made sure we were able to do the 11+ miles hike around Chapel Basin without dealing with the rain too much. This hike was by far the highlight of the entire trip — peaked fall colors along the lakeshore, emerald and turquoise water on Lake Superior, the mineral-stained streaks on the 200-foot sandstone cliffs. Simply put, the experience was mind blowing. Granted, we struggled the last 2 miles of this 8-hour hike, but we picked up our pace despite our tired legs after hearing some loud rumbling thunders in the afternoon.
Another attraction we wanted to visit is Tahquamenon Upper Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park — one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. To get there, we cruised along the long and straight M-28 for an hour and half from Munising. We also visited the nearby Whitefish Point and Muskallonge Lake State Park. With our new Michigan’s annual state park pass, we also covered Fayette Historic State Park, Palms Book State Park and Indian Lake State Park. We made an impromptu visit to Marquette — the largest city in the UP — and this city reminded us of Duluth in Minnesota.
On the final day, we did a 3-hour hike in Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin on our way home. Coincidentally, a homicide took place in that state park on the previous day. It didn’t discourage any visitors from visiting it because it was still packed with people enjoying the beautiful Friday afternoon. While hiking on the East Bluff Trail, we stumbled upon a family of 3 from Indiana who recognized us — probably due to my bright backpack and large camera. We crossed paths during our hikes in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore several days earlier where I recommended this state park to them. The last time we visited Devil’s Lake State Park was in 2008 during an ex co-worker’s wedding in Wisconsin Dells and since then, we vividly remembered the unique quartzite rock formation known as the Devil’s Doorway.
Traveling during this Covid-19 madness was tricky, but we took all necessary precautions by not dining outside throughout the trip and wore our masks in crowded places. This year, we owned 3 state park annual passes — Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. With these passes, we covered a total of 7 state parks on this trip — 6 in Michigan and 1 in Wisconsin — and rain or shine, we hiked in most of them. We visited 2 of the 5 freshwater lakes that form the Great Lakes of North America — Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Most importantly, we did some leaf-peeping in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.