10 Things To See and Do at Presque Isle Park in Marquette
It’s hard to pick Marquette’s top destination when recommending the area to new visitors. You could tell people to go hike Sugarloaf Mountain, walk through downtown and visit the lower harbor, visit the iconic Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and the Marquette Maritime Museum, or grab a drink at one of the local breweries (Blackrocks, Ore Dock, barrel + beam, The Vierling). Those are all great places to visit, but Marquette’s best attraction is almost without a doubt Presque Isle Park. This 300+ acre park is located on an oval-shaped peninsula surrounded by the might waters of Lake Superior, and it offers many options for swimming, hiking, bicycling, or a driving tour.
1. Watch the freighters load at the ore docks – Iron ore is loaded onto ships daily from this “pocket dock.” This dock was the first of its kind on the Upper Great Lakes and is the last place in Marquette where freighters still actively load. If your timing is right, take a few minutes and watch the railroad cars roll out on top of the dock and dump ore into the bins that then fill the ship.
2. Walk out to the Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Light – When weather conditions allow, a walk out on the breakwater to see the Presque Isle lighthouse can be a fun addition to a park visit. This light was constructed in the 1940s and it stands 55 feet tall.
3. View the Lake Superior cliffs – One of the first pulloffs you will encounter on the drive through Presque Isle Park are the outlooks for the Lake Superior cliffs on the east side of peninsula. These towering cliffs are quite the contrast to the drive into town on M-28 where you are almost level with the lake.
4. Hike the John B. Anderton trail system – Named in honor of a Northern Michigan University professor who loved the area, the trail system at Presque Isle covers the interior wooded area and offers the chance to see the parts of the park that aren’t shoreline. Keep your eyes open while hiking and there’s a good chance you will encounter some of the park’s friendly whitetail deer.
5. Take the plunge off of Blackrocks – Jumping off of the 10-15 foot cliffs here is a popular summer pastime for NMU students, locals, and visitors. You can find plenty of videos on You Tube of people taking the plunge into the cold waters of Lake Superior, and like many other things on this list we urge appropriate caution if you pursue this activity. The views from out on the rocks here are amazing and worth the effort, but on windy and wavy days it is discouraged – don’t make the mistake that has cost others their lives.
6. Try your hand at rockhounding in “the cove” – From the Blackrocks area you can also visit a cove that has great views of the cliffs from water level. We found this to be a great spot to look for rocks, as the waves churn up beautiful new ones from the lake each day.
7. Enjoy the views from Sunset Point – As the name implies, this is the spot to be at sunset. The views here are pretty good the rest of the day too, as you can see for miles on Lake Superior from Presque Isle’s northern tip.
8. Watch for wildlife – In addition to the local whitetail deer, you might also spot raccoons and small mammals while visiting Presque Isle. Birdwatchers will have a great time here as well as Presque Isle Park is located on a migratory flyway. One year when we visited there were even signs posted that a moose had been spotted roaming through the park!
9. Take a kayak out on Lake Superior – When the waters are calm this is a great place for a float on Lake Superior, especially on the eastern side of the peninsula.
10. Check out the Bog Walk and Nature Trail – This short nature trail has a boardwalk through a bog, with plenty of interpretive signage detailing the wildlife and plants to look for in the area. The Moosewood Nature Center is located right next to the trail.
Presque Isle Park is located north of downtown, at the end of Lakeshore Blvd. Peter White Drive (named for one of Marquette’s early residents, a businessman and philanthropist) is a 2.2-mile one-way loop road that winds through the park. Its hours vary seasonally, so be sure to check current hours on the Marquette city website before heading out. When the road is closed to vehicle traffic it does still remain open for foot traffic.