We set out on this hike with big ambitions of hiking 8 miles.
Online information as well as the signage said that the trail was 4 miles each way. This did not account for the 1+ before and after the trail or the 200+ steps to the viewing areas. We ended our hike as a one way hike and it was 6.8 miles.
They had a shuttle service that took you from the end of the trail to the beginning of the trail. It was $16 well spent. Plus the driver of the shuttle gave us some great information about the North Country Trail. We had never heard of this trail but its a crazy ambitious hike. It looks to be tougher than both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail. It starts in up state New York and goes allllll the way to North Dakota. It’s 4600 miles long and if you thru-hike you are bound to encounter freezing temperatures being that far north. It takes on average 7-8 months to complete the entire trail. I just could not imagine … Brrrrr!
Speaking of Brrrr… When we set out to do the River Trail at Tahquamenon Falls it was quite nippy. But we warmed up pretty quickly. The hike started out with a nice view of the lower falls.
It was a boardwalked area with lots of look out points. Once we got off of the boardwalk there was a pretty decent ascent. That got our blood pumping…. But the middle part of the trail was pretty flat. There were lots of planked walk ways and bridges, along with a few sets of stairs. The trail is very clearly marked, it almost impossible to get lost on this one…. Even for us :). There were also plenty of benches to stop and take rest. The river itself had a reddish brown tint to it. This is because the water filters through a Cedar River and the trees change the color of the water. Although discolored this water is said to be very clean. The city girl in me doesn’t really trust it but, that is what they say.
There was another ascent at the end of the trail. Then you leave the trail and walk for a bit on a paved road. At this paved road there is a sign that says 116 steps to the gorge. This is one of the look out points to see the upper falls… So we did the 116 steps down and 116 steps back up. Thinking we had seen what there was to see, we started walking towards where we thought the parking lot was. Well then we came to another set of stairs. This one said 94 steps down. So we did the 94 steps down. This was a view from the top of the falls. And my personal favorite view. The look out points for both the upper and lower falls were pretty crowded. You are able to park in the parking lot less than a mile away from each of them. There was a yummy restaurant/ brewery right in the same parking lot of the upper falls look out area.
On our first full day in Michigan we took the Shepler’s Ferry over the Mackinac Island. http://sheplersferry.com/ This is a super cute island about 16 minutes off shore. It is a HUGE tourist area. http://www.mackinacparks.com/fort-mackinac/
There is a Fort there that you can pay a fee to enter. In the fort the workers keep character of people of 1812. They do reenactments of tasks performed during that time including canons firing. We skipped this part of the island as we were looking to get away from the crowds. Speaking of crowds…. When you get off of the ferry you are right in the middle of Main Street. There are no cars on this little island however there are a boat load of horses and double that many bicycles.
There were about 15 bicycle rental places on the island. I wanted to rent bikes since I knew we were planning on a big hike the next day but I was out voted by the boys. So we set out on foot power.
A good portion of our hike was on paved or rocky roads. There were many clearly marked trails along the way and we did explore quite a few.
Our favorites were the “Crack in the Island” trail. There is actually a crack in the island and we climbed inside and took some awesome pictures.
Glad I was able to shed some lbs. or I never would have made it through. J We wanted to keep our sneakers in the dirt so we walked around to the Tranquil Bluff Trail. And let me tell you this trail was far from Tranquil! It walked along the side of the island cliff that had a 220 ft straight drop down to the river.
We were literally looking at the tops of giant trees at certain points.
For a clumsy girl like me this is quite nerve racking. But I do have to say the views of the water from this trail were AMAZING. It was all that I dreamed of when we headed to Michigan. Even a bit more, I mean I never would have imagined that a lake could be so big. It went on as far as the eye could see. I really did not look much different that an ocean….in my uneducated city girl opinion. The trail led us to a couple of beautiful look out points. The last one being Arch Rock….OMG what beautiful picture it made.
Just a great example of what Nature when left to its own devices can do. Arch Rock was much closer to Main Street so we had to actually share this view with other people and horses too J But this towards the end of our approximate 7 mile hike so we were happy to see the people just because we knew that this meant we could get that Starbucks coffee we had all been talking about on our hike. We wrapped up our trip by buying souvenirs, coffee and fudge on Main Street then walked down to the board walk to enjoy the sound of the water crashing up against the shore. It was a rocky sea shore very similar to what we saw in Oregon, Maine and Massachusetts. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
I had my phone on air plane mode for our day on the island to save the battery life but MapMyHike says that we hiked for 2 hours and 51 minutes.