We have discovered that the northeast coastline of Lake Michigan is called Northern Michigan (#NOMI), even though the Upper Peninsula (AKA UP) is much further north than this region. It seems the UPers (pronounced you-pers) consider themselves a state apart, referring to their southern counter-parts as trolls (because they live “under” the Mackinaw Bridge).
Developing our two day itinerary for this region was difficult because there are so many options. To truly enjoy the delightful lakeshore you would need more than a week.
We began with an early arrival at a Boondockers Welcome site. Our host, Dan, was amazing and even provided us with brochures for the local attractions. Though unplanned, we also just had to go up the road to a local U-Pick blueberry stand for some local produce before setting out for the day. The blueberries made some delicious pancakes the next morning!
Our first stop was the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There are many beautiful hikes here, but we opted to hike the Empire Bluff and Bay View Trails. Empire Bluff is very popular for it’s views of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dune. The Bay View trail was less busy (which we liked) and provided a very diverse and enjoyable walk.
We REALLY wanted to hike the Dune Climb, but dogs are not allowed. We got a sneak peak at it’s difficulty though on a stop at the Lake Michigan overlook along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive! It looked intense!
On our second day, we continued north through cherry country, stopping in both Traverse City and Charlevoix en route to Petoskey where we spent the night. Interestingly, both Traverse City and Charlevoix BOTH claim to have the World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pans. We saw both on our journey today. I encourage you all to read about this local rivalry here. With all the hype, of course we had to stop for some pie :).
In Traverse City, we also stopped to hike in to see the Hippie Tree, a local haunt (pun intended) that artists (and probably mostly teenagers) have been spray painting fallen trees over the years. It is rumored to be the portal to hell, but we found it delightful. Chip really liked running around the hippie maze of logs.
In Charlevoix, we also stopped to hike along the Fisherman’s Island Trail, which afforded us the opportunity to actually get on Lake Michigan. Chip has discovered, a little late in life, that his two favorite things are sand and waves!
Our final stop of the day was Petoskey, where we stayed with more wonderful Boondockers Welcome hosts, Amber and Dave. After dropping our rig, we grabbed our skates and headed for the Little Traverse Wheelway, a 23 mile bicycle path. The 1.4 mile section between East Park and Magnus Campground is considered the most scenic, so we skated down and back. Chip loved the exercise and we loved the views!
Next we’re heading to the UP; please subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss any updates!