Monday, August 4, 2014

Visiting Upper Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula

This weekend I took a trip up to the UP's Keweenaw Peninsula to go camping with my family. We've been making this camping trip for over 10 years and I've always enjoyed my time there. The Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan has a lot of great activities for those who enjoy the great outdoors. My experiences have been primarily set in the summer, where it's generally a lovely daytime temperature in the mid-70s/low-80s, and comfortable, cooler temperatures at night. Whatever your outdoor recreation preferences, this area is a great place to do what you love. I've put together a brief travel guide that touches on some of the great activities you can do in this area, and maybe you'll find that you're interested in adding the Keweenaw to your bucket list.

No matter what other outdoor activities you like to do, I highly recommend camping in the Keweenaw, especially in the summer months. For one, a campsite rental is much cheaper than a hotel, and the area is gorgeous for spending most of your time outdoors.
There are several places to camp in the Keweenaw. Our family has spent one week a year over the last 12 summers taking a trip up to Copper Harbor, MI and camping in the Fort Wilkins State Park Campground. The campground is split into two sections (the East and West campground) and the historic Fort is located directly in between. The East campground has a lot more open space between campsites, so if privacy is your thing, you might want to book in the West campground, which has a lot more wooded vegetation between each individual campground. I'm probably a little biased because we've always stayed in the West campground.
Another nice thing about the Fort Wilkins campground is that it's situated directly on Lake Fanny Hooe (great for swimming, kayaking and fishing), and is only a five minute walk from the shore of Lake Superior.
For other campgrounds, the Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau has a good list on their website, which you can find here. 

The beach on Lake Superior near the campground.

Hiking trails are abundant in the Keweenaw, and this area has some of the most beautiful, untouched country to do it in. My favorite hike that I've ever taken in the Keweenaw was through the Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary. This area has over 510 acres of virgin northern hardwoods (when I said untouched, I meant untouched!) and it has several different loops depending on how much time you have to spend hiking. You can find my post about the Estivant Pines here.
There's also many other hiking trails in the area, whether you prefer hiking up a mountain to a specacular view or just an easy, gently rolling path. Fine a list of hiking trails here. 

It'd be crazy not get out on the water while visiting the Keweenaw because there is just so much of it. My favorite way to get around on the water is kayaking since it's easy to navigate shorelines and such. Canoeing is another fun way to get around with more than one person. It is often a bit more frustrating if you've never done it before.

Me kayaking near Fort Wilkins.

I've kayaked Lake Fanny Hooe near Fort Wilkins and in Lake Superior near Copper Harbor and both are pretty fun. I would recommend scouting Lake Superior before kayaking or canoeing because on windier days it can get pretty choppy, which doesn't make for a fun time.

This is the last outdoor activity that I have experience with up in the Keweenaw. Migration is the best time to bird anywhere and the Keweenaw is no different. Brockway Mountain is apparently an amazing spot to watch the hawk migration. Doing that is definitely on my bucket list. But birding just on my two day camping trip turned out to be rather fruitful as well. I'm a relatively new birder, but just photographing some birds I'd never seen before was great for me. If you're interested in watching migrating birds, Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch is a good place to visit for information. Otherwise, this site has a list of good spots or you could check out Cornell University's eBird site which shows maps of what's been reported in locations all over the country.

Male American Redstart near Copper Harbor

There are tons of other things to do that I could list, but I would rather not go on and on about something I don't have too much personal experience with. But if you're into biking, skiing, fishing or just about any other outdoor activity, I would try to pencil the Keweenaw Peninsula into your list of places to go on vacation.
Check out this link for lists of the other outdoor activities I haven't specifically talked about, and to find other visitor and travel info to aid you in trip-planning.


  1. You crack me up. Here I am browsing along and I stumble across your blog post, and I have identical photos of everything but the bird (and that particular kayaker). Fort Wilkins is one of my favorite places, been going back over 20 years, and I could swear you stole my pic from Brockway Mtn Dr.! Nice to see the timber all hasn't been sold off or developed. I haven't even read your entry - just stuck on the pics. Fond memories and all. =)

    1. I'm glad to hear from another person who loves it just as much as I do! It's certainly a place of awesome memories for many. :)