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

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Lake of the Clouds Scenic Overlook
View from a Scenic Lookout at Porcupine Mountains State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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

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.

When you elect to continue your westward journey, take the South Boundary Road west through the southern boundary of Porcupine Mountain State Park. It is a very attractive drive through a mature hardwood forest and the foothills of the porkies. When you intersect with Hwy 519, go north to visit the Presque Isle Unit of the Porkies. There you’ll find several beautiful waterfalls and some nice hiking trails. Return south on 519 to Wakefield, Michigan. There take US Hwy 2 west towards Bessemer Michigan.

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.

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

In our opinion the Black River Harbor and the Presque Isle parks are *Must See* attractions (unless it is the middle of summer and there is a drought). These two areas offer some of the best waterfalls on the South Shore of Lake Superior and 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

Michigan 513, the Black River Scenic Byway, runs north of Bessemer near Big Powderhorn Ski Area. The Byway goes 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.

Returning south on Michigan 513, those who enjoy scenic drives can skip going into Ironwood altogether by taking Airport Road west to intersect with Michigan 505, then follow 505 north to Little Girls Point – a scenic picnic and camping area on the shores of Lake Superior. The beach there is one of our favorite rock picking and agate hunting beaches. Continuing west on Hwy 505 you enter Wisconsin and road changes to Wisconsin Hwy 122. Shortly it intersects with US Hwy 2. Turn right or west and head to Ashland, Wisconsin.

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