Michigan UP Lake Superior Circle Tour Travel Planner
Ironwood to Silver City, Michigan
Michigan Upper Peninsula Travel

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Coming from Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula

The normal entrance from Wisconsin to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is on Highway 2 going through Hurley into Ironwood. But we recommend adding a half hour onto your itinerary and take the scenic route. That involves catching Wisconsin Hwy 122, Saxon Harbor exit, about 10 miles before Hurley and proceeding north to the Wisconsin-Michigan border near the Lake. There the road turns to Michigan 505. The road to Superior Falls is shortly after you come into Wisconsin. Michigan 505 offers some nice lake views, camping and hiking at Little Girls Point, and an attractive route through the mature hardwood forest of the highland bluffs and mountains as it begins to wind south towards Ironwood. Figure 30″ to an hour for this drive which includes a stop along the Lake at Little Girls Point and/or a short hike to see Superior Falls.

The suspension bridge crossing the Black River at Black River Harbor Park
The suspension bridge crossing the Black River at Black River Harbor Park

Those who enjoy Scenic Drives can skip going into Ironwood altogether by taking Airport Road east from Michigan 505 to pick up Michigan 513, which is the Black River Harbor Scenic Byway going to the Harbor Park and waterfalls on the Black River. Plan to spend at least 2 – 4 hours exploring the park, waterfalls and hiking trails. For those wanting to overnight here, the National Forest campground is quite nice. Non-campers can stay at the Black River Lodge which is about 10 miles from the Harbor on the Byway. (See our new video of Rainbow Falls here)

Ironwood, Bessemer, Wakefield, Michigan

We have not explored these three towns much. They offer ample lodging choices for non-campers or non-RV-ers wishing to stay overnight in the area to enjoy the Black River Harbor or the Presque Isle River and Park. In the wintertime, these towns are quite active because some of the Midwest’s most popular ski areas are here: Indianhead Mtn, Big Powderhorn, and Blackjack. There are also several good snowmobile trails in the national forest that surrounds the area.

Manabezho Falls on the Presque Isle River, Porcupine Mountains State Park
Manabezho Falls on the Presque Isle River, Porcupine Mountains State Park

In our opinion the Black River Harbor and the Presque Isle parks are *Must See* attractions (if it is the middle of summer and there is a drought then the falls will be less attractive). These two areas offer some of the best waterfalls on the South Shore of Lake Superior and have excellent hiking trails through mature mixed hardwood forests. Great beaches too. Seeing both can easily fill up a day (or two).

Recommended places and things to do:

  • Black River Harbor, via Michigan 513 north of Bessemer. Camping, hiking, attractive picnic area overlooking the harbor and river mouth, great waterfalls.
  • Presque Isle Unit of Porcupine Mountain State Park, via Michigan 519 north of Wakefield. Twin of Black River Harbor. Camping, hiking, great waterfalls.
  • South Boundary Road of Porcupine Mountains. Runs between Presque Isle Harbor and main entrance to the Porkies by Silver City.

Porcupine Mountains, Silver City Michigan (see pictures & more info here)

After visiting the Presque Isle park, instead of returning back to Wakefield on Michigan 519, take the South Boundary Road east through the southern boundary of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It is a very attractive drive through a mature hardwood forest and the foothills of the porkies. Allot at least 4 hours for exploring the Porkies and you could easily go an entire day or three. If you don’t tent camp or RV, there are accommodations in Silver City just east of the main entrance to the Park.

Recommended places and things to do:

  • Summit Peak hiking trail leading to lookout tower, via Summit Peak Road off the South Boundary Road.
  • The Visitor Center near the Silver City entrance – information to plan your visit
  • Lake of the Clouds overlook and picnic area at the end of Michigan 107
  • Union Bay campground – full service, sites for tents and RV’s; some on lake, many with lake views. There are also rustic forest campgrounds for serious hikers/backpackers or tent campers on a tight budget.
  • A “gazzilion hiking trails“, including some through a network of rustic back country cabins reachable only on foot. A day visit allows only a small sampling of the Porkies.
  • Bikes, canoes, and kayaks for rent.
  • Wintertime. Excellent downhill skiing and an extensive network of cross country and snowshoe trails. Over 200 inches of natural snowfall per season.

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