Nov 10, 2014

Community Profile

Western U.P. – Michigan’s Trailhead

In the Midwest, there are few areas that offer as many outdoor recreational activities as Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula.  The area is located as far west as you can go in Michigan, bordering Wisconsin and the southern shores of Lake Superior encompassing the towns of Bergland, Marenisco, Watersmeet, Wakefield, Bessemer and Ironwood.

While mainly celebrated for its winter outdoor activities, the Western U.P. offers some of the best opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts regardless of the season.  For those seeking the solitude of nature, there are thousands of acres to explore as well as lakes to swim, boat and fish. There are also beautiful waterfalls, streams, and rivers to enjoy.

As the weather warms, there are numerous possibilities to enjoy in the outdoors.  Spring and summer offer countless chances to hook into a trophy walleye, northern pike, or panfish.  Hiking and bike trails offer another escape into nature.  Bring the family here to enjoy a getaway at one of many lakefront resorts and campgrounds.   The spring and summer seasons offer a chance to get away and escape to a truly tranquil and idyllic setting.

The fall season is filled with the picturesque scenes of leaves changing colors. Animals are preparing for winter. The sound of tromping through fallen leaves while enjoying the splendor of the season or pursuing upland or big game in the woods is commonplace.

The late fall and winter months offer some of the best snow sports in the Midwest.  The Western Upper Peninsula is known for its endless lake effect snowfalls, courtesy of Lake Superior.  On average, the area receives over 17 feet of pristine snow, usually starting in October and falling well into April and May.  The quantity, quality and reliability of these snows draw fun seekers from hundreds of miles around to this winter playground. Combined with its boundless, unspoiled wilderness, breathtaking vistas, and rugged terrain, the Western U.P. offers endless outdoor recreation opportunities.

The Western U.P. touts itself as “Michigan’s Trailhead,” and it is easy to see why. Whichever trail you choose, biking, hiking, snowmobiling, skiing, ice fishing, or snowshoeing, the Western U.P. has it in spades.

People throughout the upper Midwest know the snowmobiling here is downright awesome.  Rated as the “Top Snowmobile Destination” by American Snowmobiler Magazine, it offers over 2000 miles of groomed trails, unplowed logging roads and secluded National Forest trails throughout the area.  There is easy access from Wisconsin into the Western U.P. making it a popular place to ride to or from as you explore the area.  Once you get here, there are dozens of resorts, motels, and cabins that will welcome you and your snowmobiles.  The lodging owners are friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and willing to share all they know of the area with visitors.  Resorts and lodges have current information regarding trails and snowfall.

As mentioned, there are thousands of miles to explore by snowmobile. Starting at the Ironwood Depot trailhead on the western end, snowmobilers can traverse the Western U.P. via the trail network.  Heading east, snowmobilers wind through the Bessemer and Wakefield areas on their way to beautiful Lake Gogebic or to the famous Cisco Chain of Lakes.  Each area is dotted with many small resorts, cabins and restaurants that offer the perfect stop after a day on the trails.  Snowmobilers will find trails are groomed to perfection and offer a smooth ride deep into the area’s scenic wilderness. 

If you snowmobile, you need to get Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula on your “to do list.”  But get here early because once you have experienced it, you will be itching to come back.

Downhill/Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing

Come to the Western U.P. and hit the slopes or traverse some of the most prolific trails in the Midwest!  Not only for the skiing (which is fantastic), but also for views, the camaraderie, and the memories you will make with your friends and family.  From the most experienced downhill skier or snowboarder, to the skier perfecting his/her “snowplow,” there is a resort, hill, and run for everyone.  The Western U.P. is home to three ski resorts, each offering its own distinct terrain.  Names like Blackjack, Indianhead and Big Powderhorn, are familiar to any skier or snowboarder in the Midwest.  Together, they make up “Big Snow Country.” With over 80 trails, nearly 700 acres of skiable terrain and more than 20 lifts and tows, the Western U.P. is truly a skiing and snowboarding mecca.  The best part is that these amazing resorts are located only minutes from each other, making it possible to enjoy all three resorts in one weekend.

Each resort prides itself on an experienced staff, quality rental equipment, and first rate lessons for any skier trying the sport for a first time or returning to the sport after a sebatical.  The ski resorts also offer regular events and weekend entertainment.  Once the sun sets and the lights go on, the fun continues.  Some of the big events the resorts are known for are……….??????????

For the non-skier or skier in a group, there is plenty to see and enjoy.  Each resort maintains a warm and cozy atmosphere, with great food and delicious hot and cold beverages.  The views from each lodge will capture and captivate while taking a break from swishing down the slopes or simply relaxing while others cruise the terrain.  Also, there are gift shops, restaurants, and boutiques just minutes from each lodge. So, whether you want to stay and enjoy the company of your group and ambience of the resort, or take a break to get out and explore the area, opportunities abound.

If cross country skiing or snowshoeing is your sport, there are miles of picturesque trails and untouched forests to see.  Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield offer over 100 KM of Cross Country Ski Trails. The trails are groomed for skating and classic striding, and offer backcountry ski/snowshoe trails of varied terrain.

If you want to spend time in the splendor of the Northwoods and enjoy all it has to offer, the Western Upper Peninsula is the place to come and visit.

Ice Fishing
Lake Gogebic and the Cisco Chain of Lakes offer some of the finest ice fishing you’ll find anywhere.  Hunker down over a hole in the ice and fill a bucket with walleye, perch and northern pike! The Watersmeet area offers fantastic ice fishing on the many lakes located in the area. There are numerous resorts, motels and private homes to rent for lodging. Many of the lodging options offer direct access to some of the best ice fishing in the area.  Grab your ice drill, jig pole, tip ups and get ready for some great hard water action!

At Lake Gogebic, you can rent an ice shanty, boasting all the comforts of home. There are also guides in the area with inside information to put you on fish.  The many local bait shops are always ready with current ice conditions and reports of what, where, and how the fish are biting. Many resorts and bait shops also offer ice shanty rentals along with all the necessary bait to put fish on the ice.

These lakes are renowned for their abundant perch and walleyes.  The lakes of the Western U.P. offer the feel of Canada without the expense and travel time.

The Western U.P. Pre and Post Winter Snowfall

In the fall, enjoy panoramic views of glorious fall foliage and clear blue waters. Fall is the perfect time to explore back roads on a bike, paddle a quiet lake, hike a densely forested trail, climb a rugged mountain or just plain change your perspective on what the world has to offer. 

This region is also a prime hunting hot spot for deer, bear, small game and birds. Enjoy the spectacular autumn colors while out walking through the woods. While on a nature walk, be sure to keep “your eyes peeled” as it is not entirely uncommon to come across the elusive wolf, the rare moose and more prominent deer, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, and many, many other forest inhabitants.  Wildlife truly flourishes in the natural wilderness of the north.

Hop on a motorcycle and enjoy the Black River Scenic Byways.  Rated as a Top 10 Bucket List Road Trip by USA Today, you’ll enjoy beautiful color along the winding road leading out to Lake Superior.

Take a ride to the top of the Copper Peak Adventure Ride. This mammoth structure rises some 241 feet above the crest of Chippewa Hill, a copper-bearing rock outcrop. An 18 story elevator provides access to the observation deck. Climbing the additional 60 feet of stairs to the top starting gate will allow the visitor to "experience" the feelings of the ski flyer about to launch themselves down the 469 foot inrun.

Copper Peak provides visitors with the most unique panoramic views found anywhere in the Midwest. From the top, it is possible to see 40 or more miles in every direction. The fall colors of the mixed conifers and hardwoods of the Ottawa National Forest and the Black River Scenic Byway are unequaled anywhere.

Spring & Summer

The melting snow, the longer days of sunshine, the shedding of layers, the budding of flowers and trees, the awakening forests, and of course, the sound of rushing water cascading into countless streams and rivers…this is our springtime in the Western U.P.  One of the best times to experience the awakening of nature after a winter’s rest.  Come visit and soak in the warmer temperatures while sitting on the deck of a lakeside restaurant, enjoying a beverage and home cooked meal.  Afterwards, enjoy the crackling of a campfire into the late hours of the night.  A visit to the Western U.P. in the springtime is a great way to kick start the warm weather months ahead.

Once summer hits, it is time to get outside and be in nature.  Get out from behind those screens and absorb the beauty of the Western Upper Peninsula.  Whether biking the numerous trails, loops, or single tracks; hiking through the old growth forest, along the shores of Lake Superior, or paddling a calm inland lake, stream, or rapid river, the Western the place to immerse yourself in the outdoors.  Explore the Porcupine Mountains, rugged and raw including the Lake of the Clouds scenic outlook.  Visit majestic Bond Falls, Rainbow Falls and some of the other 150 awe-inspiring waterfalls that flow through the Western U.P.  Enjoy great fishing on Lake Gogebic.  Paddle the shores of Lake Superior or the famous Cisco Chain of Lakes.  Canoe through the pristine forest of the Sylvania Wilderness or hike the North Country Trail.  Whatever your outlet is, you can find it here. Summertime is fun time in the Western U.P.

Family Fun Events
Family fun is on tap in the Western U.P!  Events such as the Jack Frost Festival, Hometown Fourth of July Celebrations, Pumpkin Fest and many fishing tournaments keep the fun happening year round.

Small Town Feel, Big Time Fun.
The Western Upper Peninsula encompasses the cities and towns of Watersmeet, Bergland, Marenisco, Wakefield, Bessemer and Ironwood Michigan.  All boasting their own outdoor activities unique to each area.