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Hiking Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Munising, Michigan



5 miles


Added by Brian Wheeler

Waterfalls. Ice Caves. Snowshoe trails. What more could you ask for? Make your way to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for these sites and much more.

After living in Michigan for 18 months, I finally made the six-hour drive "up north" to the state's Upper Peninsula. Often referred to as simply "The U.P.", the Upper Peninsula has been attractive since the day I made the move to the Great Lakes State. 

In mid-February, I hopped on 75 North, crossed the Mighty Mackinac Bridge and found my way to the snowmobile-friendly town of Munising, Mich. The town of roughly 2,500 residents is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls you'll find in Michigan. My goal, though, was to hike out to several destinations often touted by locals: Tahquamenon Falls and the Eben Ice Caves. 

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is roughly 90 miles from downtown Munising, a fairly easy drive even during the winter months. Once you arrive, the Falls are separated into the Upper and Lower Falls. Most impressive, in my opinion, is the Upper Falls. But, a beginners' level, four-mile hike connects the two waterfalls, so both are must-visit sights. As the water drops down into the river below at the Upper Falls, the water takes the appearance of a giant latte. Surrounding the falls is a forest of snow-covered evergreen trees. The falls, both Upper and Lower, offer plenty of locations to take photos of the natural beauty as well. While at the falls, take time to strap on snowshoes or cross country skis and make your way down one of the many trails, such as the Lantern Trail. There's not many things more fun in the winter than clearing your mind on a snow-packed trail in the middle of a Michigan forest.

Another must see is the Eben Ice Caves. Located just outside of Marquette County, Mich., and a 30-,minute drive from Munising is the small town of Eben Junction. While in a remote part of northern Michigan, any updated GPS should be able to direct you to the Ice Caves. If not, stop and ask a local. Everyone knows of the Ice Caves, often said to be one of Michigan's most popular winter destinations. 

Once you arrive at the parking area, you will hike through an open field before entering the woods for a nearly one-mile hike to reach the Ice Caves. I did see many families with small children and elderly adults. Due to the constant inclines, declines and slippery slopes, I would not suggest anyone not in good physical condition to take on this hike. It is challenging in some locations. 

After nearly 30 minutes in the woods, you will arrive at what some call "the perfect combination of a slow snow melt and frigid temperatures. Once you arrive at what is more than likely a typical rock ledge in the summer and spring months, you'll be amazed by the size of the ice forming a "cave" for explorers to walk through. Be careful, the caves are slippery!

Yes, to reach these destinations from the Greater Detroit area is a 400-mile drive and a lot of hiking. If you're looking for some of the most unique hiking destinations, Michigan's Upper Peninsula is calling your name. 

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