The Great Lakes Shoreline Tour: Lake Huronís Upper Peninsula Coast
With 10 segments due on our Verizon Wireless Tour of the Great Lakes shoreline across eight states, I have a pretty ambitious travel schedule.
We were doing all right until we crossed over the Big Mac Bridge into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula following the Lake Huron shoreline. But then we were seduced by the wide open spaces, the sparkling blue water, the big freighters and clean, fresh lake air.
Instead of sticking to the schedule, we tossed the planning aside and ended up staying over for a few extra and unscheduled days.
Oh. One other thing. My estimate that the tour would cover about 3,500 miles when it was all done is way short of what it will actually be.
It looks like our meanderings and following sometimes obscure shoreline roads will make this trip closer to 4,500 miles when we finish.
But right now, who cares? This is one of the best trips we’ve ever taken in our Roadtrek Etrek and following a timetable with so many delightful surprises around every shoreline bend seems, well, almost sacrilegious.
There’s a different feel to the Lake Huron shoreline as soon as you cross over the UP. It is quieter, more protected and it calls the visitor to sit and stay a little longer, just gazing out at its island-studded waters.
Just check out this video above you’ll see what I mean.
Those islands you see as soon as you start to round the shoreline in the Eastern Upper Peninsula on state highway 134 past St. Ignace are known as Les Cheneaux Islands.
They consist of three dozen small islands located just offshore, islands perfect for fishing, and exploring, especially by kayak, where quiet coves and sheltered bays beckon the adventurer.
They stretch through the waterfront communities of Hessel and Cedarville, almost to the far eastern end of the lake where it is fed by the St. Mary’s River in Detour Village.
Jesse Hadley runs a small shop in Hessel that specializes in eco-tours of Les Cheneaux Islands. She’s passionate about sharing it…but also protecting it.
“A lot of people don’t know about these islands,” she said. “Most of the people who live around here have families who have been here for generations. We’re all a little protective of them. They are so unique and beautiful and the water and sky are unlike no place else in the Great Lakes region.”
In Detour Village, we stopped by the small museum in Detour, dedicated to the area’s rich history as the northern starting point of the big lake.
And then we followed the river northwest to Saulte Ste. Marie, We camped right on the broad river bank, at the Soo Locks Campground. We planned on just a night. But we became so mesmerized at watching the huge lake freighters go by that we spent three nights.
“It’s so relaxing up here,” said Linda Grant, of Lexington, KY, who with husband, Bill, has been coming to the Soo Locks Campground each summer for more than three decades. “Down in Kentucky it’s 92. Up here it’s very nice with the cool breeze off the water.”
The Locks are where Lake Superior meets Lake Huron.
It was there we said goodbye to Huron, whose Michigan shoreline had us travel more than 500 miles from Port Huron and get ready for our next Lake – Superior.
Look for the first part of that trip in our next report from the Great Lakes Shoreline Tour.
Meantime, if you’d like to follow the tour and keep up with our route, check out the embedded map on the right hand column of this page. If you click on the map it will open full screen. Then you can click the waypoints and see a photo and where we are and what we’re seeing.
Jennifer and me and Tai watching freighters from our spot at the Soo Locks Campground in Saulte Ste Marie, Mich.
Les Cheneaux Islands along Lake Huron’s northern shore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Those big freighters go by day and night.