10 Things To Do Between Marquette and Big Bay in Marquette County, Michigan
The drive north on CR-550 between Marquette and Big Bay is one of the most scenic in the Upper Peninsula, as it takes travelers on a trip past Lake Superior, the Dead River Basin, mountains and more before reaching the small and scenic community of Big Bay. This is an especially beautiful drive in the fall, but there is plenty to see and do at any time of year. We’ve put together a list of our 10 favorite stopping points on this route, starting in Marquette just north of Northern Michigan University and ending in Big Bay at a scenic lighthouse. This is one of the places in Michigan where you’ll have a decent chance of seeing a moose, so keep your eyes open when near the water or hiking through the woods. Here is our list of 10 Things To Do Between Marquette and Big Bay:
Marquette Tourist Park: This 40-acre park includes frontage on the Dead River, 110 campsites, a beach, a playground, hiking trails and picnic areas. More information and online reservations can be found at http://www.mqtcty.org/parks-tourist.php.
Sugarloaf Mountain: The hike to the top of this 1,000 foot peak can be reached by taking either the “easy” or “difficult” trail, and visitors are rewarded with a panoramic view of Lake Superior, Marquette Harbor, and the Huron Mountains. The parking area is well marked and reached after driving six miles north from Marquette.
Wetmore Pond: This unique wetland area is a small part of a 480-acre tract of land owned by Plum Creek, and a short but somewhat rough path takes visitors back to Wetmore Pond. A bog is something everyone should experience once, as walking on the thick mats of sphagnum moss looks and sometimes feels like solid ground but has water underneath.
Little Presque Isle: Seven miles northwest from Marquette you will find a stunning beach, forested hiking trails, and access to a small island in Lake Superior.
Alder Falls: We recently profiled Alder Falls as part of our ongoing series on Michigan waterfalls. The trail to this waterfall is not well marked but is easy going once you’re on the right path. Alder Creek makes a 30-foot slide down a smooth rock face here, and there are a couple of small drops upstream as well.
Thomas Rock Overlook: Three miles south of Big Bay there is a short, universally-accessible trail to the top of Thomas Rock. Visitors will find that this overlook provides views of Big Bay, Lake Independence, Lake Superior, the Keweenaw Peninsula and the Huron Islands. The area is especially beautiful in the fall, and informational plaques detail each kind of flora and fauna found on the trail. Head one mile east on CR-510 from its intersection with CR-550. (This was formerly known as Gobbler’s Knob).
Yellow Dog Falls: Recent road improvements have made it much easier to reach the wild and scenic Yellow Dog River, where numerous waterfalls await your visit. We showcased a photo gallery of these scenic cascades and provided directions as part of our Photo Gallery Friday feature in July. The hike here can be a bit rough, and it takes about half an hour to reach the main falls.
Anatomy of a Murder film sites: The 1959 film starring Jimmy Stewart and George C. Scott was based on the novel of the same name, which recounted a case that had taken place in Big Bay. The Lumberjack Tavern (202 Bensinger St.) was the site of the murder that the film details, and the Thunder Bay Inn a block away was a filming site.
Lake Independence: Fishing is popular at this inland lake, with walleye, smallmouth bass and yellow perch ready for the taking. The state record yellow perch was caught here, and ice fishing is popular as well. Other activities include boating, waterskiing and swimming.
Big Bay Lighthouse: Four miles from Big Bay, this lighthouse overlooking a cliff above Lake Superior was built in 1896. This historic light is now open as a bed and breakfast, and its owners have graciously allowed for visitors to enter the grounds and take pictures during daytime hours. For information on staying here, head over to: http://www.bigbaylighthouse.com/.