Bare Bluff is a wonderfully scenic and highly exposed set of cliffs that rise abruptly from the waters of Lake Superior in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. Its remoteness and the lack of a reliable road leading anywhere near it are mainly responsible for its name not being one of the first things mentioned when talking to people about the Keweenaw.
Located near Bete Grise, MI (that's BEY-duh-GREE) the Bluffs are one of many Michigan Nature Conservancy sites in the Keweenaw. Part of the massive Keweenaw Fault that forms the spine of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the cliffs rise roughly 500 feet from the surface of the lake and provide stellar views to the east towards the end of the peninsula, as well as south to the Huron Mountains and west towards Mt. Bohemia and Mt. Houghton. The relatively short hike to get there is well worth the incredible scenery available once you gain the top!
Nearby attractions include Mt. Bohemia, a very popular advanced and rugged ski hill and Montreal Falls
, a beautiful and rugged waterfall near the tip of the Keweenaw.
Looking towards Bare Bluff from Montreal Falls
, roughly 3 miles east of the cliffs.
What to do...
There is a wonderful 4.5 mile round-trip hike from the parking lot that loops over the top of the cliffs and then works its way back down and below them before heading back to the parking lot.
I do not have a whole lot of outdoor climbing experience, but judging by the few outings I have been on, this would be a prime place in the Keweenaw for toprope and possibly sport climbing. I doubt that there is any hardware in place, but it would certainly be worth checking out... If I get a chance to head up there specifically for climbing purposes I will be sure to update the page!!!
Getting to Bare Bluff takes some skill with directions, as well as gutsy driving on some pretty sketchy roads. Here's my best shot at describing how to get there:
From Houghton, MI head north on US41 for roughly 36 miles to the town of Delaware. Once you reach this town, look for signage pointing down Lac La Belle Road. Turning right (east) down this road and driving about 4 miles takes one to the scenic little town of Lac La Belle. Continue on towards Bete Grise, another 3 miles, until you reach Smith Fisheries Rd. Turn left onto this rough gravel/mud logging road, ignoring the "No Trespassing" signs because they refer to different property and not the area you will be heading (be sure to take the more heavily traveled right fork immediately; the left one dead ends pretty soon), and continue following it roughly another 2.4 miles until you reach a small gravel parking area on the right (south) side of the road. Park here and continue on foot past the metal gate on a two-track for another .7 miles until you reach some Nature Conservancy signs pointing the way to the top. This two-track road is on private property, so please respect the landowner, but it is perfectly legal to walk along it. Turn left onto the footpath, and a large wooden sign will greet you a mere 100 yards or so from that point.
This is the sign that will affirm that you are there. Until you see this, make no assumptions!
Please note that Smith Fisheries Rd. is a rough road and one needs to use caution when driving on it. In the past couple years, there have been some significant improvements done on it, and there are some reliable culverts in place now, but the road is still muddy as hell in early spring and is not plowed in winter. There are also plenty of areas where washouts occur. I last visited in mid-May 2009 and it was good enough to take my car down, at low speeds. (Note: it has been a very dry spring up here.) I would not recommend driving down this road after heavy rain unless you have some sweet offroad setup on your vehicle.
None. Your tax dollars at work...
I am not entirely sure on this one. There are plenty of signs of people having camped there in the past, but I do not know the legality of it. If I had to guess, I would say it probably isn't legal but if you want to give 'er a shot that's up to you.
I should note that a few more miles down Smith Fisheries Road is Montreal Falls
, a gorgeous falls that plunges straight into Lake Superior. This falls is a mere 6 miles or so from the tip of the Keweenaw and is very very remote and a great little trip. There is plenty of room to camp out there, and I am pretty sure it is legal. So, perhaps consider driving the rest of the way out after your visit to the Bluffs...
External LinksHunt's UP Guide Online Entry on Bare Bluff