Tales, trails and places to see
by Jennifer Huder
Northern Michigan has a mystique that beckons people, stays with them and often prompts a story to share. “There’s a feeling…” people will start to tell you when you mention you live ‘up north’ or start to share a story of a visit to (one) of your favorite places north of the middle section of the Mitten state. Invariably, we nod, attentive with a smile at the mention of that unexplainable feeling that we all seem to experience on our way up into Michigan’s treasured northern region.
Is it the shared experience of stress of everyday life washing away? The growing anticipation and excitement for the adventure that lies ahead? Or is it just the joy of familiar places, sunshine, fun times and family? While this question is answered differently by just about everyone you could ask, really …who knows?
What we do know is that familiar grin that spreads slowly across your face when you reach that part of your trip that signals to you that you are now up north. The feeling is described by: the gathering of friends or family; bigger and bigger pine trees and the smell of the pine forests; the sandy two-tracks leading deeper into Michigan’s rich rugged north country, the clear blue skies, epic snow banks; wild ski runs, super-fun kayaking or canoe trips along rivers and streams.
For some, that feeling is found tucked away in forests, screaming down sand dunes and plunging into cool clear lakes or in great waterfalls. For others, it’s hiking trails, the brilliance of all the stars …sitting in a circle at the campfire, the glowing embers that spark great stories, laughter or quiet reflection on the days activities.
My passion for northern Michigan feels the same way. You’d think I would get tired of it after almost 40 years in this great state — I deducted my residences on the other side of Lake Michigan — Chicago (where I tossed my kids into the back seat of the jeep on Saturday summer mornings to swim at Van Buren State Park and South Haven’s North and South beaches), then back to northern Michigan — then to Wisconsin (where we drove every other week back to Petoskey, up and over the Upper Peninsula, stopping at a new place along Hwy 2 each week to check out the view, the town, the food, the woods, the trail, then, of course, moved back to Northern Michigan. Both gave me fresh perspective on just how much Michigan means to me.
It’s the road signs, the growing presence of pine trees, at first lining along the highway, then in tightly planted red glowing rows of tree trunks and needles, piles of boulders unearthed by the glaciers and still more sand showing itself between scrub along the way. Two tracks, more pine trees, dunes along Hwy 2, a glimpse at Lake Michigan’s sapphire blue waters or Superior’s rocky shores or Huron’s bright blue water and incredible cedar-lined shores, marinas with sailboat masts swaying in the wind and bobbing in the waves, Grand Traverse Bay’s clear waters and on and on.
Here I hope you’ll join me in taking a closer look at some of the most interesting, intriguing places to explore in northern Michigan. My passion spills over for this part of our amazing State to the point where I founded a literary magazine, Walloon Writers Review, to share an annual collection of Michigan poetry and stories and nature photography inspired by this incredible region.
Now, more than ever, getting out in nature is necessary, exploring this incredible state, all here for us to regain our footing, take a break from stress and the noise of our normal daily lives. In this blog, I hope to share some of the amazing places you can visit, explore and point to from the car window as your speed by on the way to your destination. I haven’t seen everything I want to see yet!
Join me as I update this posting each week — with pictures, tall tales (lol) and some perspectives of a few of the exciting places you can go for a tank or two of gas, a cooler with water and snacks, a few bucks in your pocket and maybe your tent or hotel, motel, vacation reservation. I know from experience that you can spend as little or as much as you wish to have your own ‘up north’ experience.
Visit Hikingthistrail.wordpress.com , my website that offers more about hiking trails that are suitable for ‘not really’ hikers…just casual shorter nature walks that you can check out when time or interest allows. While you’re in the area, be sure to stop by for lunch or dinner at a locally owned restaurant. While pandemic packed a huge punch in the eye, these places stood the test. Good food and good people.
From big deep waters and amazing forests, the rivers and the vistas of our State’s most northern spots keep calling me to adventure again. I hope you will find this interesting and inspiring to create your own adventure and memories.