As a Midwestern state Michigan sits amid some of the least interesting terrain in the country. As it is, however, Michigan sits surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes and has a geologic history that has helped create a rather varied landscape. Split into two ecologically, geologically, and demographically distinct peninsulas, the state of Michigan offers the best and worst in county highpointing. The western Upper Peninsula lies within the rugged Canadian Shield and offers some of the toughest cross-country travel in the Midwestern US. The eastern UP and northern LP are characterized by lakeshore plains mixed with glacial hills and uplands. The land is not as rugged here but nonetheless includes some of Michigan’s highest elevations. The southern LP is perhaps the least interesting from a highpointing standpoint. The land is generally flat and you are likely to need a good topo map with you to tell you when you are, indeed, where you need to be.
I don’t consider myself an avid county highpointer, I am awestruck and dumbfounded by the people who take it upon themselves to visit all the U.S. county highpoints. The time and money required for this are far beyond my reach so I have set my sights on a goal more attainable…visiting the county highpoints in my home state. So far I’ve visited a little over half of them, and will hopefully complete the lot of them in the next year or so. Even though none of these highpoints are very dramatic it has treated me to an interesting journey into some of the more remote corners of my home state, each unique in its own way…
County highpointing in the UP is a completely different animal than it is in the Lower Peninsula. Most of the highpoints here lie on public land but due to the difficult terrain and lack of good access roads make these places quite difficult to reach. The eastern half of the peninsula is comparatively flat but the maze of muddy backroads that criss-cross the backcountry here makes finding these highpoints an adventure...
Near where Schoolcraft, Luce, and Alger Counties meet. Logging roads criss-cross the area so have a good map and a 4WD.
Northern Lower Peninsula
The northern LP is a mix of what you will find to the north and south. The amount of public land here decreases, meaning you’ll likely run into more “No Trespassing” signs. The terrain here, however, is still quite interesting. Particularly towards the tip of the mitt glacial activity has created a fairly hilly landscape to explore.
SE of Harrietta, a high clearance 4WD will get you to the top, otherwise a 1.5 mile round-trip hike. Manistee National Forest
Southern Lower Peninsula
This is a true Midwestern landscape in all its monotony. Flat farmland and an unending conglomeration of cities, suburbs, and subdivisions makes for the least interesting highpointing of the entire state. All but a handful of highpoints here lie on private land making access difficult at times though for many you hardly need to leave your vehicle...
In Michigan's most populous county it may surprise you to find out that this HP is along a well maintained hiking trail on State Owned land. Though not visually spectacular, this is one of the nicest HP's in southern Lower Michigan.
County Highpoint Map
This map shows the approximate locations of each of Michigan's County Highpoints. The ones I have visited include a link if you want to get a look at them...
Thanks, Pete...you are correct, it was a typo. I got the spot right but apparently misread or mis-typed the topo. I've gone ahead and corrected it on the page. Appreciate the heads up and glad you stopped to visit! Cheers, Dan
In terms of the location of the highest point in Houghton County, Michigan, there are two errors. First, the hill called "The Bluff" on the linked map is not "The Bluff." "The Bluff" is located two summits ENE of the hill shown, and is clearly indicated on topo maps by that name. In addition, it has a high bluff on the south side.
Second, the location of the highest point in the county is not certain from topographic maps; a survey might be needed. The elevation shown at the summit of the hill shown on the linked map is 505m, and the elevation shown on your site is 1659 feet. However, several closed 505m contour lines are shown in Houghton County in the area. One, about a mile SE of the summit shown on the linked map, has a spot elevation of 507m (1663ft). In summary, I can't guarantee where the highest point in the county is, but it's not where you have it located.
The elevation of 1722'listed for Grove Hill (Osceola County, MI)would appear to be in error. The North America Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88)and the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1920 (NGVD29)both show an elevation of 1703'for this highpoint. While this location would still be the highpoint for Osceola County, it would appear to be lower than the elevation of 1706' for Briar Hill (Wexford County, MI) -- making Briar Hill the highest point in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan (assuming you use the USGS or accepted surveying benchmarks).
Posted May 2, 2013 9:11 am
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"All my life, people have asked the question, directly or indirectly, "Why the hell do you climb mountains?" I can't explain this to other people. I love the physical exertion. I love the wind, I love the storms: I love the fresh air. I love the companionship in the outdoors. I love the reality. I love the change. I love the oneness with nature: I'm hungry; I enjoy clear water. I enjoy being warm at night when its cold outside. All those simple things are extremely enjoyable because, gosh, you're feeling them, you're living them, you're senses are really feeling, I can't explain it."