Tahquamenon Scenic Byway: 18 Attractions On This Pure Michigan Byway
Michigan is home to 23 Scenic Byways, with five designated as State Scenic Byways (or Pure Michigan Byways). The Tahquamenon Scenic Byway is 62 miles long, following M-123 from its western intersection with M-28 in Newberry to its eastern intersection with M-28 near Eckerman. many of the points of interest along this byway center on the nearby bodies of water – Lake Superior, the Two Hearted River, the Tahquamenon River and more. Newberry is the “moose capital of Michigan” so keep your eyes peeled on this route for moose, deer, black bears, bald eagles, and other wildlife. This list covers some of the highlights on or near this scenic route, focusing on outdoor exploration, history, natural scenic beauty, and fun.
Hamilton Lake Natural Area – Located just south of Newberry, the Hamilton Lake Natural Area offers opportunities for hiking, paddling, fishing, and wildlife observation. Visitors are invited to “Walk the trail, wander in nature, and carefully look for lady slippers in bloom and other treasures along the hiking trail that wind around this calm, scenic lake.”
Head west on CR-428 from M-123 south of Newberry
Luce County Historical Museum – Located in a restored jail and sheriff’s office that still has its original jail cells, this museum invites visitors to “see the original judge’s bench and witness stand from the original courthouse. Also features a state room which honors many founding citizens, old fashioned schoolroom, kitchen, double parlors, bedroom, and a Native American display.”
411 W. Harrie St., Newberry
Tahquamenon Logging Museum – Learn about what life was like in a logging camp at this museum. Displays include restored buildings and a look at how workers got lumber from the woods to the mills. Stop by for the legendary Lumberjack Breakfast in the summer!
1 mile north of Newberry on the west side of M-123
Oswald’s Bear Ranch – One of the Upper Peninsula’s best stops for family fun, Oswald’s Bear Ranch is home to 29 rescue black bears in natural habitats. Lucky visitors might even have the chance to get their picture taken with one of the cubs! http://www.oswaldsbearranch.com/
13814 Co. Rd 407
Muskallonge Lake State Park – Two lakes are better than one, as Muskallonge Lake State Park features frontage on Lake Superior and a campground next to Muskallonge Lake. Popular activities include swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, rock picking, and camping.
30042 County Road 407
Two Hearted River – This 23-mile long river is one of the Upper Peninsula’s most popular fishing destinations. At its mouth at Lake Superior you’ll find a rustic campground, historic bridge, historical marker honoring the Life Saving Station that once stood here, and a boat launch. Be sure to bring a long a few cans of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale!
from M-123, head north on CR-500 for six miles then follow CR-414 for six miles to CR-423. Follow for another four miles to its end.
North Country Trail – Those looking for an immersive hiking experience will find many miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail follow near the scenic byway. “This portion of the NCT is uniquely composed almost entirely of true foot trail through remote forests free of commercial establishments.” The Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter maintains the trail from St. Ignace, through Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and on to the Two Hearted River. The Superior Shoreline Chapter picks up NCT maintenance at the Two Hearted River and follows it alongside Lake Superior into Grand Marais. Head over to https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/michigan-upper/ for links to maps and other essential information.
Upper Tahquamenon Falls – When it comes to waterfalls this one is easily the best known, as well as the largest. Measuring 200 feet wide by 50 feet tall, it impresses in all seasons. A flat and easy hike leads to a staircase that leads to the brink of Upper Tahquamenon Falls, roughly a half mile from the parking lot. There are several fully accessible overlooks, and several miles of hiking trails throughout the park.
M-123 roughly 23 miles northeast of Newberry
Lower Tahquamenon Falls – The Lower Falls are a series of drops that surround an island in the river. Most of these drops can be viewed from a hiking trail, but for a truly unforgettable experience you can rent a rowboat and go out to the island to see these waterfalls up close! There is a small gift shop and ice cream store here, and a state park campground with close to 200 sites is reached from the same parking lot.
M-123 roughly 5 miles east of the Upper Falls
Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub – It makes complete sense that a state that is so passionate about its beer would have a brewery in one of its state parks, and after visiting the Upper Tahquamenon Falls you should be sure to check out the Camp 33 gift shop as well as the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub. Meal offerings include fresh caught whitefish, and bears range from Black Bear Stout to Blueberry Wheat Ale (a popular August release). http://www.tahquamenonfallsbrewery.com/
M-123 roughly 23 miles northeast of Newberry
Crisp Point Lighthouse – Getting to Crisp Point Lighthouse is half the fun of visiting, as the route involves nearly an hour of driving on county roads that can be rough and narrow at times. When you arrive at the lighthouse, you’ll find quiet views of Lake Superior shoreline, a restored historic lighthouse, and volunteer lighthouse keepers running a small gift shop and keeping the tower open for visitors to climb. The Crisp Point Lighthouse was built in the early 1900s and its tower stands 58 feet tall. Years of neglect and harsh weather threatened to destroy it completely, but the Crisp Point Light Historical Society stepped in and pulled off one of Michigan’s great lighthouse restoration efforts.
see http://www.crisppointlighthouse.org/ for map and directions
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory – Each spring and fall many migrating birds stop at Whitefish Point on their way north or south. “Over 340 species of birds have been seen at the Point including: White-winged Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Spruce Grouse, Rough-legged Hawk, Jaegers, Great Gray Owl, Boreal Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, over 30 species of warblers and northern finches like Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, Redpolls and Crossbills.” Spend a few quiet hours strolling the nature trails and see how many different bird species you can spot! https://wpbo.org
16914 N. Whitefish Point Rd.
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum – See artifacts recovered from the many shipwrecks near here, including the bell from the legendary SS Edmund Fitzgerald. Learn about the history of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Life-Saving Service, and more inside the museum and other restored buildings at the complex. https://www.shipwreckmuseum.com
18335 N. Whitefish Point Rd.
Whitefish Point Lighthouse – The oldest operating light on Lake Superior can be found at Whitefish Point, a point where all vessels coming into or leaving Lake Superior must pass. There has been a light here since the 1840s and the current skeletal tower structure was constructed in the 1860s to help aid against strong winds. The tower is 76 feet tall and can be toured through the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
18335 N. Whitefish Point Rd.
Tahquamenon Rivermouth Unit – The Rivermouth unit for Tahquamenon Falls State Park has a modern campground with 72 sites, a rustic campground with more than 30 sites, hiking trails along the river, a day use picnic area on Whitefish Bay, and excellent opportunities for fishing and boating. Keep your eyes open for moose, as the popular but reclusive animals have been spotted here from time to time.
Eckerman Pond – An excellent picnic spot and “paddler’s paradise,” Eckerman Pond is a quiet place with great fishing opportunities at the site of an old hatchery. Makes for a great relaxing stop near the eastern end of the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway.
From M-123 head north on S. Fish Hatchery Rd. and follow to its end
Curley Lewis Memorial Highway – This scenic route intersects M-123 south of the Tahquamenon River. Along the 33 mile route visitors will find a historic lighthouse, a rustic campground, day use hiking and swimming areas on Whitefish Bay, the Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery, and plenty of chance for wildlife viewing.
Point Iroquois Lighthouse – This lighthouse dates back to 1857 and it is now open as a museum through the Hiawatha National Forest. Visitors can climb the 65 foot tall tower for views of Whitefish Bay, the Canadian Gros Cap Reef Lighthouse, and passing freighters.
12942 W Lakeshore Dr, Brimley