Lake Superior is the largest of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area and is the world's third-largest freshwater lake by volume.
Vast, remote, deep and cold, with sheer rock cliffs rising on the N shore, the lake's austere beauty has become part of the Canadian imagination. The tale of billions of years of geological history is exposed in its rocks. Stromatolites, the oldest fossils found anywhere, have been found in the rocks along Whitefish R - evidence of life 1.8 billion years ago. At AGAWA BAY, volcanic action has created one of the finest pebble beaches in the world. The rocks around Superior also contain valuable mineral deposits, especially IRON ORE in the great Mesabi Range in Minnesota. Silver was taken from beneath the lake at SILVER ISLET and copper was mined by the Indians long before the arrival of Europeans. Gold has been discovered at Hemlo, some 30 km E of Marathon.
Étienne BRÛLÉ was likely the first European to see the lake (1622). Hugues Randin was in the SAULT STE MARIE area around 1670, and Sieur Dulhut, Daniel Greysolon laid formal claim to the area around the lake in 1679. The city of Duluth, Minnesota, at the head of Lake Superior, is named for him. For 100 years the voyageurs braved the storms of Superior and carried furs along the N shore to GRAND PORTAGE and later FORT WILLIAM. Ft Michipicoten, at the eastern end of the lake, was established in 1725 and operated until 1904. After 1855 a ship canal was operated at Sault Ste Marie, and steamers passed in increasing numbers as huge quantities of grain and iron ore were carried to the lower lakes. Today, Thouder Bay is one of the largest ports by volume in Canada. Lake Superior Provincial Park fronts on the lake between the Montréal and Michipicoten rivers and Pukaskwa National Park between the Pukaskwa and White Rivers. The parks preserve a rugged environment of ancient mountains scoured in the last ice age.
is located 90 km northwest of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Superior. The area was sacred to the Ojibwa and the name is Native for "sacred place." The magnificent beach is strewn with innumerable pebbles, worn smooth by the waves. Nearby bands of rock, some 1 billion, some 2.5 billion years old, lie twisted in layers like hardened candy. The red ochre pictographs at Agawa Bay reflect some 10 000 years of aboriginal occupation.
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park has 9 day-hiking trails and two backpacking trails. The 63 km Coastal Trail, part of the Voyageur Trail, the Trans Canada Trail and the National Hiking Trail, wends along the coast from Agawa Bay to about a point halfway to the northern boundary of the park. Towab Trail is a very strenuous linear trail that follows the Agawa River 12 km to the Agawa Falls.
Lake Superior Provincial Park
North Country Trail
An 875-mile linear route across the state, part of a national scenic trail from New York to North Dakota. The trail enters Michigan near Morenci in the southeastern corner of the state. From there it heads northwest through both urban and rural settings toward certified trail segments in Manistee National Forest. It then takes a decided turn northward through the Jordan Valley and Wilderness State Park to cross the Straits of Mackinac. The Upper Peninsula segment of the trail system goes east to west starting in Hiawatha National Forest. It passes Tahquamenon Falls State Park
, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
, and parts of Ottawa National Forest
before it exits Michigan at the town of Ironwood. Special attractions: A complete look at urban and rural Michigan, including Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island
, Tahquamenon Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Porcupine Mountains
The chapter (The North Country Trail Hikers Chapter is the North Country Trail Association's = NCTA's) maintains a trail in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan beginning east of Marquette at Rock River Road in Alger County and going west past Marquette to Long Lake in the Ottawa National Forest.
This section of the trail is under intensive development from Rock River Road on the east to the west where the Ottawa National Forest picks up. From Rock River Road to Marquette, the "AuTrain Lake to Little Garlic Falls" Map is the guide of choice; from there to Covington, the Michigan Mapset (Johnson). Good county maps are highly recommended in this area, as it will sometimes involve following roundabout forest roads to get from segment to segment. From Rock River Road, it's about 30 miles, sometimes on road, sometimes off, partly through the highly scenic Laughing Whitefish Falls area, until reaching the village of Harvey on the outskirts of Marquette. From Harvey, a six-mile usable bike path follows the shore through Marquette to Presque Isle City Park, north of town.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Lower Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls State Park follows the Tahquamenon River as it passes over Tahquamenon Falls and drains into Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior. The Tahquamenon Falls include a single 50-foot (15-meter) drop, the Upper Falls, plus the cascades and rapids collectively called the Lower Falls. During the late-spring runoff, the river drains as much as 50,000 gallons (200,000 liters) of water per second, making the upper falls the second most voluminous vertical waterfall east of the Mississippi River, after only Niagara Falls.
Tahquamenon Falls is also called "Rootbeer Falls" because of its golden-brown color, caused by tannins from cedar swamps that drain into the river. In winter, the ice that accumulates around and in the falls is often colored in shades of green and blue.
Much of the park is undeveloped but it does have more than 22 miles (35 km) of hiking trails. Row boats and canoes are rented to use to approach the lower falls. There are five campgrounds in the park with a total of 350 campsites. The park receives as many as 500,000 visitors per year, many of whom drive in on the state park's only paved road, M-123. M-123 intersects with Interstate 75 at Michigan exit #352.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, MI
Porcupine Mountains Trail MapPorcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
is Michigan's largest area of undeveloped wilderness. The Park was established in 1945 and later designated as a Wilderness Area. The Porcupine Mountains consist of a series of undulating, irregular ranges whose slopes are covered with stands of virgin forest of the hardwood-hemlock type, with maple, birch, and basswood on the upper slopes through hemlock mixtures on the lower areas. Nestled within these ridges are the beautiful Lake of the Clouds and Mirror Lake. From these lakes flow the Big and Little Carp Rivers down deep cut gorges. These rivers rush through a series of rapids and falls to Lake Superior.
It is 92 square miles big, with virgin forest, scenic waterfalls, rugged Lake Superior shore line, remote rustic cabins, 87 miles of hiking trails, and virtually no roads.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
is located on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, between the communities of Munising (west) and Grand Marais (east).
Mineral-stained sandstone cliffs rise dramatically from Lake Superior at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The 70,000 acre park follows the south shore of Lake Superior for 42 miles.
The awe-inspiring cliffs are shaped by wind, ice and pounding waves. The cliffs are colored in shades of brown, tan, and green by the iron, manganese, limonite and copper in the water. As the water trickles down the rocks or mountainous waves slam into the cliffs with a vicious suddenness, the sandstone Pictured Rocks are formed and changed.
The sculptured rocks create images in your mind of fortresses and castles. Miner's Castle, Battleship Row, Indian Head, Lover's Leap, the Color Caves, Rainbow Cave, and Chapel Rock are only a few of the breathtaking sights which can be seen. There are scenic overlooks, hiking trails, beaches and campgrounds, but the Pictured Rocks are best seen by boat.
Bicycles, including mountain bikes, are not permitted on trails within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Snow and ice are generally present by the second or third week in December and remain until late March. While ice frequently forms along the Pictured Rocks cliffs above Lake Superior, the most accessible ice columns are found along the Pictured Rocks escarpment between Munising Falls and Sand Point along Sand Point Road.
For more information on ice climbing:
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Ottawa National Forest
Although backpackers could get lost amid the deep woods of Ottawa National Forest, and anglers favor Lake Gogebic east of Ironwood, visitors should be sure to visit the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Area
The Sturgeon River, a federally designated wild and scenic river, travels a circuitous route through much of Baraga County before bleeding into Portage Lake near Chassell. One of the three wilderness areas within the national forest, the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness protects 14,000 acres that surround this river and its tributaries.
The highlight of this area is west of U.S. 41 and south of M-38, where the river cuts and tumbles through a magnificent 300-foot-high gorge. To reach it, follow Forest Road 2200 north from Sidnaw. Follow signs onto Forest Road 2270 to reach a parking area and foot trail that winds down about a half-mile or so to a cascade and the river. Continue west from the parking area on Forest Road 2270 to reach Silver Mountain, with stone steps that lead to a remarkable valley view. Come in fall for a fiery display by the abundant maple forest.
The U.S. Forest Service has marked few trails within the wilderness area, which, of course, is its appeal for those who love the backcountry. Several grown-over logging roads wind through the area for hikers who want to explore on their own. (A topo map is an absolute necessity.) Camping is permitted throughout the wilderness, and you can find some pretty choice spots out there.
To make sense of what the Ottawa has to offer, start with a map. You can pick up a small brochure or large topo map at Ottawa National Forest Headquarters (E6248 U.S. 2, Ironwood, 906/932-1330, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri.).
Pukaskwa National Park
Hikers have a number of short trails to choose from while backpackers can take advantage of the Coastal Hiking Trail. Experienced canoeists have two wild rivers to run, the White and the Pukaskwa. Kayakers can paddle the bays around the park or tackle the Superior shoreline.
There are 3 hiking trails in the park that start near the Hattie Cove campground. The Southern Headland Trail is 2 km long and follows the shoreline. It takes about 1 hour to complete. The Beach Trail takes you to three beaches along the Lake Superior shores. Its about 2 km long and will take about 1 hour to compete.The Halfway Lake Trail is a more rugged and hilly trail that takes you around the lake. It's about 3.5 km in length and takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
Coastal Hiking Trail - 57.8km, linear, advanced. This multi-day trip is an excellent introduction to the areas wilderness. The trail follows the Superior coastline from the Hattie Cove campgrounds to North Swallow River. Designated campsites are available on route. Several river and creek crossings are involved, including the suspension bridge (photo op) over White River. This is a wilderness trail and a tough hike, with the only exit point back from where you came, so be prepared for a round trip of almost 120km. Permits and registration are required and limits may be imposed, so contact the park early to enquire about your planned departure date. Trail guides are available from the Friends of Pukaskwa. The trail is a part of the longer Voyageur Trail which will stretch from Manitoulin Island to Thunder Bay when completed.
There are 67 front country campsites in the park at Hattie Cove. Twenty nine of the sites have electricity (south loop). Two of the sites with electricity are also wheel chair accessible. Toilets and showers are available in both campground loops.
The parks designated backcountry campsites are located along the Coastal Trail. Each camping area has a privy, a bear box and a fire pit.
There are two major canoe routes that run through the park, the White River and the Pukaskwa River routes.
White River - 82km, 5-7 Days, 21 Portages, Advanced
Your put-in is where the river widens at White Lake, down river from the town of White River. Some of the rapids cannot be run, those that can will depend of course on your skill level and conditions. To return to Hattie Cove from the mouth of the White requires an open water paddle along Superior's shore. Most of the canoe route is outside the park and none'residents (Canada) must have permits to camp on crown land from the Ministry of Natural Resources. There is a shuttle service for Umbata Falls, for information visit the Umbata Hydroelectric Project website. Access to the put-in is within White Lake Provincial Park which can be reached from Highway 17, east of Pukaskwa's entrance. For information on White Lake Provincial Park see the listing at Ontario Parks Topographical Maps: 42 C/12 Cedar Lake and 42 D/9 Marathon The river between White Lake, the Town of White River and Negwazu Lake is no longer maintained. The river can be run at most times of the year when there is open water. Contact the park for complete information and current conditions
The parks' coast is accessible for intermediate to expert kayakers, novices should hire a guide. For ambitious paddlers the traditional trip is from Hatttie Cove at the north of the park to Michipicoten, a good distance south east of the park. This is an extended paddle which will take from 10 to 14 days. Be aware that the weather can change in an instant and fog can roll in at any time and stay for days on end (budget one in four days where you'll be tent bound due to conditions.) While Lake Superior is a renown kayaking destination, the park's shoreline is largely exposed, with areas that make landings difficult or even impossible in the event that the weather turns. They say that Superior is usually calmest in June and July. For those with lesser skills the area around Hattie Cove makes for a nice day paddle but don't venture too far from the sheltered bays. Remember Superior's waters average a bone chilling 4°C.
For more information:
PUKASKWA NATIONAL PARK
Grand Island is located in Lake Superior, about one-half mile from the mainland community of Munising, Michigan. Munising is about 43 miles from Marquette and 55 miles from Manistique. The island's scenic natural beauty and interesting history make it an attractive place for camping and other outdoor activities.
Grand Island National Recreation Area is part of the Hiawatha National Forest. This rustic Island offers visitors a wide range of primitive experiences and forest activities.
Old woods, roads and trails run the perimeter of Grand Island, offering many miles of hiking and biking to the most spectacular views one will find anywhere in the Upper Midwest.
Camping - There are several rustic campsites on the island and white sand beaches that will thrill the visitor.
Three hundred foot cliffs, pristine forests, quiet lakes and a history dating back 3,000 years make the island an intriguing place to visit. Explore Nature's wonders on your own, or experience the bus tour available daily. The 2 1/2 hour tour visits seven scenic and historic sites on the island.
Grand Island recreation area
Isle Royale US National Park
The island of Isle Royale is located in Lake Superior, Southeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario. It is 45 miles long and nine miles wide at it's widest point. The park encompasses a total area of 850 square miles including submerged lands which extend four and a half miles out into Lake Superior. It is approximately 22 miles from the Canadian shore and 55 miles from Michigan's Keewanaw peninsula.
Accessible only by boat or seaplane, visitors come to experience this island park through hiking its trails, paddling its inland waterways, exploring its rugged coast, or venturing into the depth of its shipwrecks. This backpacking trip is recommended only during early spring or late fall since this area is saturated with mosquitoes and black flies during the summer.
Ferry service is available from Copper Harbor.
Isle Royale US national park
The village of Copper Harbor, Michigan's northernmost community, offers the visitor an opportunity to visit a truly unique Upper Peninsula community.
The discovery of huge pure copper deposits in 1843 produced the need for a government land office. In 1844, the first contingent of U.S. Army troops arrived to begin construction of Fort Wilkins to maintain law and order in the settlement of mineral prospectors.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
Along windswept beaches and cliffs, visitors experience where water meets land and sky, culture meets culture, and past meets present. The 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland host a unique blend of cultural and natural resources. Lighthouses shine over Lake Superior and the new wilderness areas. Visitors can hike, paddle, sail, or cruise to experience these Jewels of Lake Superior.
For more informationNational parks of Lake Superior
Lake Superior Provincial Park