But first, the lake. Lake Gogebic is Michigan's largest inland lake, which lies at the west side of the Upper Peninsula. We rented a lodge that had this view at dusk. What more can I ask for?
And it wasn't too shabby in the morning either. AJ's walleye lodge doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's really comfortable and well-equipped inside. They even had games that kept the kids occupied while Eric and I made dinner. We also enjoyed some fun family games when it was raining hard.
But when the weather is nice, we are outside "explorigating!" as our family say. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, or "Porkies" was bigger than expected. We had to drive for 25 miles going from one part to another and the time zone changes inside the park depending on where you are. The popular destination for everyone visiting the Porkies is the Lake of the Clouds. It sits in a valley between two ridges in the Porcupine Mountains and an accessible overlook offers view to the stunning vistas. It is perhaps the most photographed feature in the Porkies. I can only imagine how even more stunning the view is in autumn.
The Porkies also have many wonderful trails. The ranger at the visitor center suggested the ~3 mile East and West River Trail Loop that the kids could find enjoyable. She also said that we can turn back if it's too much for the 4 yo. The scenic loop follows along the banks of the Presque Isle River and showcases 3 major waterfalls: Manabezho, Manido and Nawadaha, and a few other smaller falls and rapids. We started our trail on the west side which had several sections of boardwalks and stairs and a suspension bridge at the end, which gives you a great view of the gorges.
After crossing the bridge, there is a small path to the beach at the mouth of the Presque Isle river, which makes for a great picnic lunch spot while enjoying Lake Superior. The kids also enjoyed building rock towers - think Jengga in nature.
After a leisurely lunch break, we started our trek back on the East side. This trail is a lot more challenging for little kids than the West side. No wonder the ranger said we could turn back. But Maya did amazing - she even came up with a game to look for what roots look like, and Tamar enjoyed all the root-climbing, of course. The East trail does have some precarious drop as you really walk along the edge, so you have to take great caution when hiking with kids. Don't worry, mom, we held on to those 2 very tightly! You can even see my finger in the picture below.
We decided to close the day with a last hike to the Summit Peak Observation tower. It is supposed to be one of the most popular attractions in the park, but we saw very few people on our way there and had the tower to ourselves when we got up. It’s a cool hike, the tower is fun climb, and the view is great too. But since Eric is not fond of heights, we didn't stay long. Also, after seeing the view at Lake of the Clouds, the view from the tower felt anti-climactic. I suggest going here first before visiting the Lake of the Clouds.
On our last day, we decided to head to Ontonagon to see the town and let the rain let up. The town was small and they happened to have a car show during the Labor day weekend, so there was a good size crowd in spite of the weather. We ate breakfast at a packed Syl's café. One place I'd suggest visiting if you're every in this area is the Nonesuch gallery. It's a cool local store (yes, owned by Yoopers!) selling handmade quilts, aprons, and even guitars that the artistic couple make!
When the heavy rain finally let up, we went to see Bond Falls. Bond Falls in Paulding MI is perhaps the most impressive waterfall aside from Tahquamenon Falls. In fact, it could give Tahquamenon Falls a run for its money. The main drop is 40 feet high and 100+ feet wide, so it appears different depending on which angle you're looking from. Above the main falls are a series of cascades and rapids, which you can see up close if you climb up the sides. On the right side, there's a slippery cement stairs; on the left, an even more treacherous dirt trail. One can literally walk right into the waterfalls. But the best view, is still from the bottom, which is accessible by a boardwalk. So, no need to go James Bond for this one. Haha.