Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Adventure

It has been a crazy summer for both Jess and I. Unsurprisingly, we needed to have a few days to completely decompress. Our most favorite place to recover our sanity just happens to be a little slice of heaven located on the far Western reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula known as the Porcupine Mountains. Or, as we like to call it… Heaven on Earth.

Our whirlwind adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula !

While our trip also included several other stops on the way home, our main focus for this trip was not just photography… It was purely getting as deep into the virgin forests of the Porkies as we, and our pups, could muster. To that end, our trip was a resounding success. We managed to recharge among Northern Michigan’s beautiful and majestic old-growth forests. Visiting a couple spots we hadn’t seen in several years while also managing to witness a few spots that we had not had the pleasure of seeing before. An added bonus, if you will, was our first close encounter experience with a rather sudden and vociferous storm. Thankfully, we managed to survive under the boughs of a rather dense hemlock near the bridge over the Little Carp River.

Nonesuch Mine

Our first day started out at the Nonesuch Mine, which, if you do not know was a small mining community from 1867 to 1912. It is now a ghost town and only ruins remain of what was once a town that was home to approximately 300 people.

Ruins at the Nonesuch Mine in the Porcupine Mountains
The path into (and out of) the Nonesuch Mine area leads right past these primary ruins. As seen here, the path on the right of the photo is leading back to the trailhead.
Ruins of mining equipment at the Porkies Nonesuch Mine trail.
This is a view of some of the equipment ruins in the Nonesuch Mine area. According to the Wiki, these were used in the chemical process attempting to separate the copper from the raw sandstone laced ore.
An old mineshaft remnant at the Nonesuch Mine in Northwest Michigan.
Here’s a view of the ruins of one of the mining shafts at the Nonesuch Mine.

Union Spring Trail (or, so we thought)…

After our short visit to Nonesuch we set off to visit the Union Spring (which is the second largest, natural spring in Michigan). Unfortunately, we did not bring our map and the signage throughout this trail has changed since our last visit. Resulting in, quite simply, getting lost. Nonetheless, we loved our misadventure, and managed to put nearly 10 miles of trail on our tired bodies this day.

Union Spring Trail - A forest view on the trail leading to the Porcupine Mountains Union Spring
If you love trees, this is the park for you! This is a view from the trail leading to Union Spring.
A trail marker in the Porcupine Mountains.
The pups Anoush & Duncan attempt to assist their mother in navigating to Union Spring.

Lake of the Clouds & Little Carp River

Day two of our journey started with what we thought would be a quick visit to the Lake of the Clouds. This is probably the most iconic and most visited spots in the State Park. It has become kind of a ritual for us to stop in here for at least a quick spell. Instead of leaving after taking in the beautiful view, we decided to stay and trek down to the Little Carp River since, we had never done so. The trail descends several hundred feet. Once you reach the bottom, you can make your way to both the shores of the beautiful Lake of the Clouds. You’ll also find the bridge leading the trail over the Little Carp River.

A view of the LIttle Carp River bridge from the viewing platform for the Lake of the Clouds
This scene is what precipitated our journey to the Little Carp River bridge. On the far left, you can see a small corner of Lake of the Clouds. On the right, is the bridge as seen from the Lake of the Clouds viewing platform.
A typical trail scene in the Porcupine Mountains.
This is a typical (beautiful) scene of the trails in the Porkies, and part of why we love the park so much! This was taken while we were taking a short rest on our journey down to the shores of the Lake of the Clouds.
Lake of the Clouds shoreline in the Porucpine Mountains.
After several visits, we finally set our feet upon the actual shoreline of the Lake of the Clouds. This photo is facing the outlet of the Carp River which eventually flows into Lake Superior.
The Little Carp River heading into the Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains State Park
Here’s the peaceful scene of the Little Carp River as it meets the Lake of the Clouds. This is the view from the bridge that you can see above from the viewing platform.
 Lake of the Clouds - A partly sunny, gorgeous day in the Porcupine Mountains.
This is a slightly different vantage point than the typical “viewing platform” scene of Lake of the Clouds.

After taking in the beauty around the Little Carp River, we decided that our time here wasn’t quite finished.  We checked our map and headed down the North Mirror Lake trail.  This would ultimately be an attempt to reach Scott Creek. I say attempt, as we never made our destination.  A rather sudden storm made an appearance, and we decided to hightail it back to the car.  Our efforts to escape the wrath of the storm were in vain as well.  As the storm passed right over us as we made it back to the Little Carp River. Thankfully, we were fortunate to find a rather dense Hemlock that we were able to hide under for the worst of the rains. Lesson learned. Bring rain ponchos on every hike!

A beautiful Lake Superior Sunset!

Despite the threat of inclement weather, we did try to reach Greenstone Falls. However, nature wasn’t finished and another, more fearsome storm prevented this last adventure. So, we packed up to head back to our hotel room at Sunshine Motel & Cabins in Ontonagon (wonderful place run by wonderful people). Upon reaching the end of Boundary Road and arriving at the Lake Superior shoreline we noticed that a rather interesting sunset was brewing. Amidst the surrounding stormy weather, the sun was making beautiful light. Here, we braved some more rain to capture what we feel are some of the more beautiful shots of our trip.

A beautiful sunset over Lake Superior in the Porcupine Mountains State Park
On the way back to our hotel, this was the scene that made us stop in our tracks and take in the beauty. The waves crashing ashore were literally washing out my tripod in between (and during some) shots.
A sunset silhouettes the Road to the Porkies and Lake Superior on the right.
This was the view of this amazing sunset as seen from the roadside. This is just east of Boundary road, and the sun is setting behind the park.

Leaving paradise behind…

Day three of our short respite had us needing to head back home. Instead of spending the day in the Porkies, we decided to try and visit a couple other spots we hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing yet.

Scott Falls in Munising

Our first stop on the long journey back home was Scott Falls near Munising. You’ll find these picturesque little waterfalls right off the main highway leading into town. Well worth the stop! We had really interesting light here! Happily enjoying a few minutes out of the car to soak in some roadside nature.

Scott Falls- A peaceful roadside scene near Munising Michigan
We have wanted to check out this roadside waterfall named Scott Falls for a few years now. On this day, we got what we wanted! Well worth stopping to take a look (and a few photos).

Hurricane River & Waterfall

Back on the road, we decided that we wanted to enjoy a spot where once upon a time, we were chased off by unbelievable swarms of Stable Flies. This time… No stable flies were around (thank goodness). The scene here was the Hurricane River Falls, just West of Grand Marais. They were every bit as beautiful as we had imagined. But, you can see for yourself!

Hurricane Falls near Grand Marais Michigan in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Jess captured this idyllic scene of the Hurricane Falls as I entertained our pups.
The Hurricane River as it heads toward Lake Superior in Grand Marais
The bridge over the Hurricane River provides a gorgeous view!

Upon leaving the Hurricane River the hunger boss was beating us down. Grand Marais offered a tasty little place called The Snack Shack. The little personal pizza was delicious! Allowing us to get back on the road in very little time at all.

We also put together a little video of our Hurricane River and Falls visit.  Check it out!


A Seney Wildlife Refuge sunset!

The U.P. wasn’t done with us just yet!  Here, the last leg of our trip leads directly South.  We headed out of Grand Marais, directly to what we have discovered is one of the least talked about gems in the U.P. That would be the Seney Wildlife Refuge. We were treated to one of the most beautiful sunset drives we’ve ever witnessed. We took the 7 mile car path from the main entrance. This car path leads you through some of the most gorgeous places to witness a sunset.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset - Reflections in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
I simply had to stop and capture this scene at the Seney Wildlife Refuge! The sky was beautiful and I simply love the reflections on the still water.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge - A view of the auto trail and the wetlands highlighted by the setting sun at Seney
Looking back in the rear-view mirror, I knew I had to stop and grab a shot of this beautiful scene! Interestingly enough, the flies that had been attacking our car, weren’t really interested in dive-bombing me too.

So, that’s it for our sneak peek from our latest adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! Be sure to follow the links below to find artwork from throughout the beautiful reaches of “da UP”!

Happy Shooting!


Get a print of a gorgeous Lake Superior Sunset!

Photos from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Porcupine Mountains Gallery

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Gallery

Nothing in the world is more exciting to a photographer than, the perfect light at the perfect moment. However, if this convergence of events happened all the time, perfect light might become imperfect, and the amazing could become mundane. Since the perfect scene is dictated by nature... a travel photographer must make the best use of the opportunity at hand. Attempting to make the mundane, extraordinary with creativity and a variety of techniques. This pretty much sums up my experience with nature and scenic photography. Which forces me to do my best to make the most of the opportunities at hand... regardless of what mother nature has planned. I look forward to sharing our adventures in Michigan, and showing off the beauty of our mitten-shaped corner of the world. While also sharing some of my knowledge of photography, which might be helpful in your adventures.

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