It’s summertime!  One of our favorite vacations spots is the UP.  For you non-Michiganders that’s the Upper Peninsula.  Yes, our state has so much awesomeness that it couldn’t be contained in one part.  The Lower Peninsula has a lot to offer, but nothing really compares to the majesty of the UP.  So much of it is pristine, seemingly untouched by man.

When we plan our vacations now, we go “active”.  Meaning that we intentionally plan activities that keep us moving.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sitting on the beach having a waiter bring me cocktails all day long as much as anyone.  But I also enjoy not feeling like I put on 30 lbs. when I come home.  An active vacation can help combat the post-vacation effect while still allowing you to recharge your batteries.

Just like anything in life, we have fine-tuned our methodology for planning an active vacation.  In the past we’ve tried to cram way too much back to back and ended up just wiped out when we got home.  So now we plan ahead and alternate our workload, heavy to moderate day followed by a light day, and so on.

Only being in the UP for a week, we had to plan carefully in order to maximize our time. There is just so much to do it would be very easy to overdo it.  Here’s a little synopsis of our journey to help you plan a UP trip or to give you some ideas no matter where you’re going.

Just a quick note, we rented a little cottage on Lake Superior and used Munising as our base of operations.  Sort of centrally located to a multitude of activities.

Take a Hike

There’s really nothing like going for a hike to connect with nature and get a good workout at the same time.  We started our trip with the Chapel Loop.  It runs about 9.7 miles around.  But you can take an extra path to the Mosquito Falls that adds a little under a mile to the route. The full loop runs out to the Pictured Rocks shoreline.  You come out on a beach then follow along the cliffs where you can catch sights of the Pictured Rocks then it turns back towards the start.  Our total hike clocked in at 10.8 miles.  We stopped halfway and had a nice little lunch on the beach.  But you can also just take some short out and back hikes to see some falls without doing the whole loop.

Now, you don’t have to go all backcountry to enjoy a hike.  We did a little gem called Canyon Falls.  Less than a mile hike, more like just a walk, from a roadside park along a river.  Once you hit the falls it opens up into a canyon.  You can continue down the canyon for a bit.  Our total trip was about 2.4 miles.  Easy breezy and well worth it.

Ride On

Communities are really ramping up their efforts to provide bike paths for their residents and visitors.  Check out the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to see what’s near you or where you’re planning a vacation.  On our little UP excursion we hit the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.   At 47 miles long it’s a bit much to do all at once.  The section from Marquette to Negaunee/Ishpeming is finished, paved and/or crushed limestone.  We got a tad adventurous and started in Ishpeming heading to the the west towards Republic. It was paved for about a mile, then turned to crushed limestone for a bit, but eventually went to straight up dirt.  Needless to say it got a bit rough, but we still managed about 34.6 miles in total.  There is another paved path that runs through Marquette, Marquette Multi-Use Path, some of which follows along the water.  So pick your poison for your active vacation.

Get Wet

No active vacation would be complete without getting a little wet.  One of our favorite activities is to break out the kayaks and hit the water.  It’s an awesome core workout, if you’re doing it correctly!

Now we’ve been doing it for a while, so we’re fairly comfortable hitting the open water.  But our boats weren’t spec’d out enough for Lake Superior, so we did use a tour group to kayak the Pictured Rocks.  If you’ve never seen the Pictured Rocks, you really don’t know what you’re missing.  But if you’ve only seen them on the ferry tour, nothing compares to being able to get up close to them.  Check out Paddling Michigan.  We did the Paddle + Hike package.  We were on the water for about 5 hours, with a lunch break halfway, then hiked 3.5 miles back to the bus.  They do have shorter tours if you don’t feel up to that big of a trip.  And don’t worry if you’re a novice, the boats they use are very stable and there’s a guide that goes with you to ensure you make it back safely.

We did also take a day for ourselves and traveled into some remote lakes at Craig Lake State Park about 45 min. west of Marquette.  Off the main road you have to travel down a 6.5 mile dirt road then port your boats .2 miles to the launch on Craig Lake.  We went the extra mile, literally, by porting our boats through the woods over to Crooked Lake.  Bonus workout!  It was worth it though.  Not another soul around.  Quiet as can be, just picture perfect.  I have to say it was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

So the next time you need to get away from the hustle and bustle plan an active vacation.  Here are a few tips:

  • Plan ahead but leave room to be spontaneous
  • Don’t overdo it.  Know your limits.
  • Determine how long your activity will take
  • Take appropriate supplies (footwear/clothing, food/water, flashlight, first aid kit)

Enjoy!

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