Summer in Marquette is an awesome experience but with so much to do, and only so many hours in the day, packing it all in is not always easy to accomplish. That is why we have rounded up the top ten activities to do in Marquette this summer. Our carefully crafted list will take you to the best places in Marquette to make memories that will not easily be forgotten. Grab your sunblock and bug spray because you’re about to experience the amazing wonders of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!
Throughout the Midwest, Marquette is known for its incredible hiking. The vast scenery and remote locations are just a few reasons why people will travel near and far to hike in the U.P. From paved trails to more rugged, off-pavement options, it is no wonder why Marquette appeals to a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts.
Located off County Road 550, Sugarloaf Mountain is a moderate and well-marked hike. The main attraction of this 1.2-mile trail loop is the viewing platform at Sugarloaf’s summit where you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Superior and the greater Marquette area. Swapping views of Mother Superior for multiple waterfalls, Dead River is a flatter yet still moderately challenging option. A nearly two-mile hike, Dead River is located minutes from Marquette off Forestville Road. For another moderately difficult hike, we suggest Little Garlic River. Located in the Escanaba River State Forest, this out and back hike is nearly 8 miles making it the longest on our list.
Stepping it up a notch, Hogback Mountain comes in at just over five miles and a total elevation gain of 741 feet. Across from Wetmore Landing, Hogback is also located off County Road 550 but is more strenuous than its neighboring trail, Sugarloaf. At Hogback, be prepared to use all four as you near the top. We assure you, though, the climb is well worth the effort! Last but not least, we recommend Presque Isle for a low-impact, more accessible hike. Located at the end of Lakeshore Boulevard in Marquette, this two-mile loop allows locals and visitors alike to choose their own adventure. Enjoy a leisurely stroll at your own pace along the paved loop or take the outer loop for a bit more rugged terrain. For shoes and gear, check out Getz’s, and Down Wind Sports.
With a vast array of terrain and events, Marquette is a premier destination for cyclists, especially mountain bikers. The perfect summer day isn’t complete until you cruise along Lake Superior on Marquette’s multi-use path! Paved in its entirety, this 12-mile path allows people to enjoy the area in a smooth, relaxing, and picturesque manner. Another great way to explore our community is along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. Stretching all the way from Harvey to Ishpeming, the Iron Ore Heritage Trail is 47 miles of asphalt, crushed stone, and dirt.
In search of something a bit rowdier? We have trails for that! The Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) is perfect for those who tend to stick more to the dirt. The NTN North Trails, a system of intermediate-level trails, are flowy, scenic, and pure fun. Beginners and experts alike can enjoy these trails due to the great variety. Spanning a total of 30 miles, everyone can get something out of their trails. For those looking to get a bit more out of their bike, the NTN South Trails have a lot to offer. Across 45 miles of award-winning trails, NTN South features flowy, technical, and jump lines. Beautiful views and amazing waterfalls can be found all along the trail.
Much like mountain biking, Marquette offers several scenic trails for you to enjoy some solitude in nature, break a sweat with your workout buddy, or train for your next race. Blueberry Ridge, located just South of Marquette on County Road 553, is a popular loop that also serves as a cross-country ski trail in the winter. Managed by the DNR, a Recreation Passport (a.k.a. Parking Pass) is required.
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is another great option, especially for those training for the Queen City Half Marathon or Marquette Marathon. At 47 miles long, the Iron Ore Heritage Trail provides plenty of mileage for those long-distance days. And, we can’t forget Marquette’s multi-purpose path! With views of Lake Superior and the historic Ore Dock, this 12-mile paved trail is a runner’s favorite. For quality running shoes and gear, head over to Queen City Running Company.
Given our close proximity to Lake Superior, it is impossible to pick just one beach. Thankfully, you don’t have to! We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites, starting with McCarty’s Cove. With views of the iconic Marquette Harbour Lighthouse, McCarty’s Cove is like a scene from a movie. Be aware, though, this area is prone to riptides which can be dangerous, even for the strongest of swimmers.
Head North out of town on Country Road 550 and you will come across three spectacular beaches: Wetmore Landing, Hidden Beach, and Little Presque Isle. A short walk from the parking lot, the expansive, sandy beach at Wetmore Landing is nestled between the pines and Lake Superior. Hidden Beach is a string of long and thin beaches surrounded by impressive cliffs. It is a bit of a hike to get to Hidden Beach but the seclusion is well worth the effort. Continue further North and you’ll find Little Presque Isle. Not only is it a great location for summer beach days, but it also doubles as a fantastic spot for viewing the Northern Lights. As always, proceed with caution when swimming in Lake Superior. Strong currents at Little Presque Isle can lead to potentially dangerous situations.
If you’re looking to experience the water from a different vantage point, you can’t go wrong with kayaking, paddleboarding, or canoeing. Kicking things off, we have Harlow Lake. Ten miles Northwest of Marquette, Harlow Lake’s calm waters and peaceful seclusion make it a great option. The “no gas motors” rule at Teal Lake is appealing on its own; its shallow depths and sheer beauty are just icing on the cake. Driving East along Lake Superior, the AuTrain River is perfect for kayaking and canoeing. It will take approximately four to six hours to complete the lazy river so make sure to buffer enough time. Lazy days on the water should feel relaxing; not rushed!
Presque Isle is a fantastic way to experience Lake Superior in all of her glory. Depending on the weather, the waters surrounding Presque Isle can be treacherous. However, on a calm day, it has so much to offer. Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and life jackets are available to rent from the NMU Recreational Sports department. Rentals are not exclusive to NMU students; they are also available for community members.
Lake Superior is well known for its Whitefish but other species such as Lake Trout, Chinook Salmon, and Steelhead also inhabit these cold, clear waters. But, if you find yourself running out of luck on Mother Superior, cast a line in one of our many inland lakes or streams to try and catch Brown Trout, Perch, Northern Pike, or Blue Gill.
Yellow Dog River is a popular location; you’ll find fly fishers galore! And, a great spot for Walleye is Lake Independence near Big Bay. No boat? No worries! Head to the dock at Harlow Lake or the bridge near the Presque Isle entrance to drop your line in the water. For fishing gear, stop in and see the folks at Superior Outfitters. They even offer guided fly fishing trips! And, don’t forget your fishing license. You can purchase online or find them at several convenience stores in the area, including Phil’s 550.
The changes in elevation, rugged terrain, and proximity to Lake Superior make Marquette the perfect place for rock climbing and slacklining. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots that are sure to keep climbers spirit’s happy. Classic Crack located at Cliffs Ridge (a.k.a. Marquette Mountain) is a great first option. Nearly 70 feet of quartzite, this crag is predominantly top roped; no fixed hardware is allowed.
For a climb along Lake Superior, we recommend The Pinnacle at Presque Isle. Just past the observation deck, there are three walls to climb up. Arguably the best route in Marquette, the optimal time to climb is early morning so you can witness an unforgettable sunrise over Lake Superior. Keep in mind, tying off trees is not allowed on Presque Isle. That goes for slacking and hammocking, too. Further North in Big Bay, you’ll find the “Secret Crag” and AAA Wall. Ranging from 30 to 50 feet tall, these are popular routes with something for everyone.
New to climbing? The Boreal Boulder at the PEIF is a great place to start. Learn proper techniques from trained staff during assisted climbs on their 1,450 square-foot indoor wall. The South Superior Climbing Club is also a great organization to connect with other local climbers. And, for expert advice and equipment rental, head to Marquette Climbers’ Co-op and Down Wind Sports.
With all the exciting activities that Marquette has to offer, it is good to know where to stay once you get here. Whether you’re visiting or planning a staycation, camping at one of our many campgrounds is an adventure in itself. For the closest campground to downtown Marquette, Tourist Park is located off of Sugar Loaf Avenue. This 110-site campground offers bathrooms, including hot showers, and electrical hookups making it an appealing option for both tents and RVs. Another perk is its access to the nearby North Noquemanon Trail Network.
West of downtown and located on the Forestville Trail is Forestville Campground, a small rustic campground best suited for tents and van-style campers. No showers or electrical hookups but it does offer potable water and fire pits. With 18 no-frills, no-fuss campsites, Forestville is great for those looking to unplug and unwind in the wilderness. Rippling River Resort & Campground, on the other hand, has a little bit of everything. From rustic cabins and full hookup campsites to glamping tents and luxury cabins, they have it all. Located off the Carp River, Rippling River offers easy access to many local attractions.
For a true “local farm to table” experience, visit the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market from June through October. Taking place every Wednesday from 5 – 7 PM and Saturday from 9 AM – 1 PM the market offers a wide variety of food, beverages, and handcrafted goods. From breakfast burritos and kombucha on tap to flowers, rugs, and pottery, you can find basically anything you can think of from their unique and talented vendors.
Marquette has so many amazing festivals throughout the summer. From food to art to music, there is an event to suit all your interests. Taking place along Washington and Front streets in late July, Blueberry Festival is a Marquette staple. This year’s event is scaled back but will still feature blueberry-themed menu items from downtown restaurants, sidewalk sales (a.k.a. “blue” specials), and fresh blueberries from local vendors.
For the art aficionados, the Outback Art Fair and First Thursday Art Walk are great opportunities to celebrate and support local artists in our community. And, if music is more your speed, be sure to check out Music On Third, a monthly series showcasing local musicians, and the Marquette Blues Fest, a three-day event at Lower Harbor featuring world-class talent.
Obviously, this list couldn’t contain every single activity that you could experience in Marquette (we’re spoiled, we know!) but we hope that you enjoy the natural beauty, sense of adventure, and buzzing energy found here in the Upper Peninsula. We hope that our ‘top ten’ list brings you on wild adventures! And, be sure to check out our Work-Life Balance in the 906 series to see how Yoopers are embracing that work hard, play hard lifestyle.
About Kevin Dinser – Kevin Dinser is a student majoring in Marketing at Northern Michigan University. He has been employed at Invent@NMU as a marketing assistant since March of 2021. In his free time, Kevin enjoys downhill skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and enjoying everything that Marquette has to offer.
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