Upper Peninsula in October?

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marti038
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Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by marti038 »

Hey everyone,

DW and I are looking for ideas for a 5ish day trip this October (Columbus day weekend) and we have our eyes on the upper peninsula of Michigan. Curious if that's a good time to visit?

We have two kids (10 & 8) and like to hike. They recently did a 13 mile hike in Yosemite (mist, panorama, 4 mile trail) so they're pretty hearty hikers. We really want to visit Isle Royale NP, but it looks like things shut down there in September. We've never been to Michigan before.

Questions:
Is it getting too chilly then? How's the fall color in the UP in October (I've heard it's pretty awesome)? What are some "can't miss" things to do? Where should we fly into?

We did Grand Canyon and Southern Utah last fall and plan to hit New England in 2023, but feel free to toss out other suggestions if you know of a place that is particularly nice that time of the year.
matti
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by matti »

The UP in October is primo!

If you are in the snowbelt area, it's not uncommon to get some snow even in early October, but it shouldn't be an issue. Temperatures should be pretty comfortable for the most part. The timing of peak fall color varies, but early October should be good in many areas. I think Isle Royale is open through Halloween. Were you planning on staying a few nights? As I recall, the boat ride from Copper Harbor, MI is 40-50 miles. (I visited Isle Royale, but took a boat from Grand Portage, MN and the trip was only about 15 miles.)

Most of the UP is awesome, but I really enjoy the Houghton/Hancock and Copper Harbor areas. (We honeymooned in Copper Harbor.) Hiking trails can be found everywhere, so you're in luck. If you're near the western UP, I recommend visiting the Copper Peak sky flying hill. The view is amazing.
https://copperpeak.net/visit/.

I also love Sault Ste. Marie on the far east end of the UP. Lots to do!
bob60014
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by bob60014 »

The U.P. is great in October. Here are links to watch for fall color reports. Though one is focused on Wisconsin it can be used for the U.P. too. In particular look at Ashland, Iron, Vilas, Forest, Florence and Marinette counties as they border the U.P.

https://www.travelwisconsin.com/fall-color-report

https://www.uptravel.com/outdoors-recre ... ll-colors/
jeffG
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by jeffG »

I second the houghton/Hancock/copper harbor area as well as hiking the pictures rocks area. But October will have average highs only in the 50’s and the trees could be bare by mid October.
bitlicious
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by bitlicious »

In the far western UP I would suggest hiking/camping the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. On the southern shore of Lake Superior, and always fabulous. But ... I think mid-October might be past the color season, and as a previous poster noted, you could be in for some weather. Mid-September on the other hand is quite wonderful.
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dxwg2020
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by dxwg2020 »

In my experience, the Columbus Day weekend was near perfect for fall foliage in the UP (depending on the year). It can get cold at night though, so be prepared for low 30s temperature, snow and frost. My personal favorites are similar to others mentioned: Consider Houghton as a base; drive north on US-41 to Copper Harbor, and then turn west to Brockway Mountain; further west go to Porcupine Mountains. Pictured Rocks at the east is interesting and beautiful, but does not have many colorful trees in my memory. Pictured Rocks is similar to North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota: mostly evergreen trees.

If you have time, try a road (boat if you can find?) trip between Grand Marais, MI and Grand Marais, MN.
MichSt
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by MichSt »

Take a pit stop at the Cut River bridge on US-2 about 30 minutes west of St Ignace. There are roadside parking areas on either end of the bridge. It's about 150' above the forest floor and along Lake Michigan. Spectacular view in fall. You can walk out on the bridge, take a walk down underneath for a view of the bridge, and keep going down to the beach below. Great spot to stretch your legs.
bradinsky
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by bradinsky »

You can’t go wrong visiting the UP of Michigan in the fall. It’s just awesome & that’s coming from a Buckeye!
Sault Ste. Marie & the Soo Locks are fascinating & educational. Tahquamenon Falls, outside of Paradise has the upper & lower falls & is very beautiful. Whitefish Point, where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank has a beach & memorial shipwreck museum. Crisp Point lighthouse is a little west of there. Munising, on Lake Superior, home to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is beautiful. Lots of hiking around the area. Check out Miners beach, Miners castle & Miners falls. Copper Harbor is beautiful in the fall. Make sure you drive on Brockway Mountain Drive which runs from Eagle River to Copper Harbor. Nice vistas of Lake Michigan from there. You’ll have a blast, whatever you do.
detroitbabu
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by detroitbabu »

Mackinac (Pronounced MacKinaw) island in Lake Huron is a little touristy but worth one visit for sure.
https://www.mackinacisland.org/

Grand Hotel on the island is worth staying but is $$$ and will most likely need advanced reservations.
WhiteMaxima
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by WhiteMaxima »

Watch the foliage map progress in Oct. then go.
PoppyA
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by PoppyA »

What? No one mentioned Marquette? The Queen City. It has a population of about 20,000 & is the U.P’s biggest city right on Lake Superior. Here is a live cam shot: http://livecam.nmu.edu/2/?fbclid=IwAR0h ... zpyM9iWYAs

See the furthest point? The Island is a beautiful place to hike. You can also hike to the top of Mt. Mesnard where the camera is located. Marquette has a wonderful childrens museum. There are Many waterfalls in Marquette county that afford great hikes.

Early October can be beautiful if the leaves are in peak condition (and chances are they will be) & it is true Brockway Mountain is the primo spot to see them, but it will also be very busy with tourists. The Keewana Penninsula is a one road in one road out area. Calumet/Houghton are all in the Keewana.

There is a 95% chance of frost on Halloween.

Oh, and don’t forget to look up. The U.P. Has very dark sky’s & beautiful night sky’s. You might catch the Northern Lights. There is a Facebook page called michigan aurora chasers that will alert you if conditions are right.
Northern Flicker
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by Northern Flicker »

A couple of other places worth a visit:

Pictured Rocks Nat’l Lakeshore
Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park
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bradinsky
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by bradinsky »

detroitbabu wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:54 pm Mackinac (Pronounced MacKinaw) island in Lake Huron is a little touristy but worth one visit for sure.
https://www.mackinacisland.org/

Grand Hotel on the island is worth staying but is $$$ and will most likely need advanced reservations.
The Grand is magnificent to visit, but it costs enough stay to literally gag you
LSGP_545
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by LSGP_545 »

I lived in Houghton for about five years and spent a lot of my childhood at our family farm the western UP. October is a good month to visit - colors will vary by year, so watch the foilage reports. I'm partial to western UP as I find the eastern part too flat and swampy. The westen UP has the Porcupine Mountains and to me the highlight would be visiting the Keweenaw - Copper Harbor, Brockway Mountain, Calumet, Houghton/Hancock - Quincy Mine. There's a monk/monestary along M-26 on the way to Copper Harbor, the Jampot is their bakery and should still be open in October, that's one place worth stopping and any decent bakery should have the local pasties too.

There are numerous industrial ruins from the copper mining era if you're into that sort of thing, old stamp mills, smelting plants, etc. A few of the smaller outliers would be the Freda/Redridge area - the Redridge dam is over there along with the old Freda stamp mill right along Superior. Gay has the old stamp mill right along the eastern side of the Keweenaw too. The Quincy Hoist along US-41 has a rail cog car that will take you into a portion of the old mine through an adit. It's pretty cool if you've never been in mine before especially when the tour flips the lights on and reveals one of the stopes within the mine.

I'd be prepared for anything from dry and sunny to cold and snowy, though snow in October and freezing cold temps are not very common, at least not when I lived there. As where to fly into - you could fly into Houghton County Memorial Airport or Sawyer International Airport and drive out west. There are a few shops that will rent RZRs and you can drive around on the vast network of snowmobile trails and see some cool sights that way too. I would recommend renting in Hancock and doing a day trip on the trails to Copper Harbor and back.
PoppyA
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by PoppyA »

Oh, one more thing. Make your sleeping accommodations now. They fill up FAST & are not inexpensive.

Marquette’s airport is K.I.Sawyer

The U.P. Is beautiful & remote. Driving takes forever. Flying requires a Puddle jumper from Chicago, Detroit or Minneapolis. That’s what makes it perfectly remote & sparsely populated.
Carl53
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by Carl53 »

I can personally second most of the recommendations. We took a week once and just traveled around walking into numerous lesser waterfalls. Tahquamenon Falls is a must as is Pictured Rocks lakeshore (book a boat tour). Mackinac Island will be a little slower as some of it will be closed past peak tourist season. Mackinac Bridge is quite impressive and kids might be interested in the Soo Locks. The foliage can be impressive from Whitefish Bay lighthouse in Paradise as in driving around many of the forest roads. Do consider getting reservations in for things like the PLR boat tour as well as overnight accommodations.
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kingsnake
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by kingsnake »

Consider flying into Green Bay or Appleton and renting a car there, maybe less expensive, you could drive into the the U.P. from the South and could start in Iron Mtn. and from there head right up through to Houghton/Hancock/Copper Harbor/Isle Royale and then come back over to Marquette and back down through Escanaba to Green Bay/Appleton.

October weather can be cold especially if you're on the Lake Superior shoreline.

Great mountain biking in Houghton/Hancock/Copper Harbor/Marquette as well.

I backpacked across Isle Royale a couple times and its a 3-4 night hike--get dropped off on one side and hike to the other side.
You can take a float plane out of Houghton to get there and it's a lot faster than the boat, easily saves you a day each way.
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marti038
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by marti038 »

Great information. Thank you all for your help.
triggerfish10
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by triggerfish10 »

Last summer we went to the UP during the summer - fantastic vacation! Lots of great hiking and other outdoorsy-type activities, and I'm sure in the fall the colors will be beautiful. We stayed at an inn in Eagle River, MI that specializes in beer, barbecue, and whisky (https://www.fitzgeralds-mi.com). Terrific food and incredible views of Lake Superior. We liked it so much that we are going back this August.
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startwithtruth
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by startwithtruth »

Carl53 wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 7:29 am Tahquamenon Falls is a must
Just want to second this - both the lower and upper Tahquamenon Falls are stunning, though very different. There are so many waterfalls in the UP; as a lifelong Lower Peninsula resident, I picked up the book "A Guide to 199 Michigan Waterfalls" years ago thinking I'd find some nearby - my memory is that 198 of the waterfalls were in the UP :confused
Old Goat
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by Old Goat »

I agree with all the previous posts/suggestions. Time will likely be the determining factor since the U.P. is so large.

One site I haven't seen mentioned is the Kitch-iti-kipi Spring at the Palm Book State Park. If you are close I would NOT miss this. IMO it is one of the most beautiful sites in Michigan.
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bhwabeck3533
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by bhwabeck3533 »

kingsnake wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 7:54 am Consider flying into Green Bay or Appleton and renting a car there, maybe less expensive, you could drive into the the U.P. from the South and could start in Iron Mtn. and from there head right up through to Houghton/Hancock/Copper Harbor/Isle Royale and then come back over to Marquette and back down through Escanaba to Green Bay/Appleton.

October weather can be cold especially if you're on the Lake Superior shoreline.

Great mountain biking in Houghton/Hancock/Copper Harbor/Marquette as well.

I backpacked across Isle Royale a couple times and its a 3-4 night hike--get dropped off on one side and hike to the other side.
You can take a float plane out of Houghton to get there and it's a lot faster than the boat, easily saves you a day each way.
I'm going to "+1" with kingsnake since he mentions my hometown (bold above). Check out my Avatar! Here goes:

Central/Eastern UP:
1. Pictured Rocks
2. Tahquamenon Falls
3. Marquette
4. Escanaba (for an Angeline's pasty at Sav-Mor)
5. Fayette
6. Paradise
7. Mackinac Bridge

Since it's a 3 hour drive from Marquette to Copper Harbor. An hour drive from Marquette to Escanaba. And a 2.5 hour drive to St. Ignace (Mackinac Bridge). No Interstates, except St. Ignace to the Soo, you have some decisions to make. The Copper Country is awesome, but lots more to do and see to the east. Isle Royale is on my bucket list, would not take young children though.

Yes it will be cool, and pray for an "Indian Summer".

DM me for any details.
PoppyA
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by PoppyA »

Let us know what you do eh?
Last edited by PoppyA on Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bear906
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by Bear906 »

Having grown up near Escanaba in the U.P., I'd have to give a thumbs-up to all the suggestions above, and add one of my own: You could spend a few days exploring and photographing the waterfalls in Alger County, which I've done many a time.

The Iron Mountain Iron Mine is a fun and interesting tour, and runs through October 15th.

October weather can be wildly variable with daytime high temperatures ranging from the 30s to the 80s, so bring attire for both warm and chilly weather.

Skip the chain restaurants and treat yourself to something memorable at my favorite places to dine:

Escanaba: The Swedish Pantry
Sault Sainte Marie: The Lockview (Best whitefish anywhere)
Marquette: Vango's (Greek and Italian), Casa Calabria (Upscale Italian)
Ishpeming: Ralph's Italian Deli (Cheap, good Italian)
Iron Mountain: Romagnoli's (Upscale Italian)
Aurora, WI (just over the MI/WI border at Kingsford, MI): Annie's T&T Steakhouse
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Bear906
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by Bear906 »

One more thing: Lodging is much more plentiful and affordable around Escanaba and Iron Mountain than in most of the rest of the UP, with Marquette generally being the most expensive place to stay--if you can even find a room.

Lodging in St. Ignace can be very affordable during off-peak times of the year, which may include October. Call ahead and check.
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imbogled
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by imbogled »

If you go to Paradise, MI, which you should because of the Edmund Fitzgerald Museum and the Tahquamenon Falls, you should eat at Brown Fisheries Fish House. Incredible whitefish dinners at a very fair price. If they don't catch fish that day then they don't open. Whitefish are a sweeter/delicate tasting fish found in the upper great lakes.

https://www.awesomemitten.com/brownfisheries/

*There is a large amount of information posted on this thread about things to do in the UP.

viewtopic.php?p=4594415#p4594415
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samsoes
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by samsoes »

Be sure to familiarize your self with the song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." That's the national anthem in the U.P.!
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bmwr1200s
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by bmwr1200s »

I'm from the Houghton/Hancock area and October is great, but go in early October because it can get snowy towards the end. A few years ago we were up around October 23rd dealing w/ some family stuff and it was beautiful and sunny and 24hrs later there was 3 inches of snow on the ground. W/ that said, highly recommend a fall trip.
Yooper
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by Yooper »

Figure out what you really want to do. If it's "touristy" sort of stuff to walk around and see, then perhaps Mackinac Island and the Soo Locks. Mackinac Island because it is very beautiful but it's also chalk full of historical places/displays and information. If you're into that then you won't be disappointed. That's a full day though, because you take a ferry over, walk or bike around, and then take a ferry back. The Soo Locks is OK but essentially if you don't happen to see a freighter come through (and their numbers are down considerably this year), then you're simply looking at an animated display in the visitor center, go up into a two story viewing deck and see a lock. Which isn't doing anything. Which if a freighter isn't coming through can be quite a letdown. The only other thing to see in the Eastern UP would be Taq. Falls. And that's a nice experience, you can even walk from one to the other along the river which is a relatively low impact hike. I'm from the Eastern UP.

But if you're interested in rugged beauty and the outdoors, I'd lean more towards central or western UP (here in the EUP it's pretty flat and low). Pictured Rocks has some nice hiking trail and the further west you go the more rugged and beautiful it is. I was up in the Keweenaw Peninsula once and was completely floored by how different it was from the EUP and loved it. Maybe for me it was just because it was different from what I'm accustomed to, but it was beautiful and I think the area has a little more history to it.

Weather is always the wild card and there's no way to know for sure what you're going to have. Bring both warm and cool clothing. And bug repellent, even in the cold periods you can experience our state bird (the mosquito) up close and personal.

If you do decide to do central or western UP I'd go so far as to call a local sporting goods store in prospective locations and talk to them on the phone. Yoopers love to talk and we'd be tickled pink to give our honest opinion to someone who asked. And if we don't know we'd refer you to someone who does.

Finally, try pasties wherever you go! They're delicious and each town or location has their own twist on the recipe but they all (at least the good ones) have one thing in common RUTABAGA. God's little gift to this culinary delight!

All of the above is just my opinion, take it for what it's worth, but definitely do visit. Whichever route you take and wherever you visit I'm sure you'll have a grand time.
bradinsky
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by bradinsky »

Sault Ste. Marie & the Soo Locks are great, if there’s freighter traffic. Interesting, educational & entertaining. Here’s a link to see which freighters are headed there at any given time.
https://ais.boatnerd.com/passage/port/soo-locks
Johny Fever
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by Johny Fever »

If you like small college football go check out a game at Michigan Tech if they are home. They have a best band in the state, they all dress up like miners and have a great rendition of "In Heaven there is no Beer"! The team is usually pretty good and when my kid played for Grand Valley we made a few trips up there...its cold, windy and sometimes snow. GREAT time.
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by 123 »

detroitbabu wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:54 pm Mackinac (Pronounced MacKinaw) island in Lake Huron is a little touristy but worth one visit for sure.
https://www.mackinacisland.org/

Grand Hotel on the island is worth staying but is $$$ and will most likely need advanced reservations.
+1 We did a one-nighter at Grand Hotel and enjoyed it. My wife has been a longtime fan of that "Somewhere in Time" movie so it seemed reasonable to include it on our itinerary. It's a long drive to get to Mackinac City so we stayed there the night before. We took the ferry over to the island and explored around and did an overnight at the Grand Hotel. Next day we returned on the ferry and proceeded with our onward trip. We went in summer so the island was gorgeous. Fall colors could be wonderful as well but one night then would probably be enough. It is expensive and hard to get to (distance) but if you're traveling in the area and you've never stayed there you should try it.
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atfelt
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by atfelt »

I would second (or third, fourth?) the Keweenaw peninsula. Here are a couple of fun adders in in the Copper Harbor area if you plan to take the other advice and do the Brockway Mtn Drive:

- Estivant Pines - Only about 3 miles of hiking, but a really cool old growth White Pine forest. Not many pines of this size in the midwest.
- Copper Harbor Mountain Bike Trail system - Many miles of great trails, considered to be some of the best in the upper midwest.

Enjoy the trip!
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segfault
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Re: Upper Peninsula in October?

Post by segfault »

The Lakenenland Sculpture Park is pretty neat.
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