Category Archives: Sightseeing

Forest Service Celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Peninsula Point Lighthouse!

 Peninsula Point Lighthouse, a historic site within the Hiawatha National Forest, is a great destination for the entire family to explore. Located at the tip of Lake Michigan’s Stonington Peninsula, you’ll find limestone shorelines yielding 500 million year old fossils to comb, more than 200 different species of birds to identify, droves of late summer monarch butterflies on the move, and – of course – great picnicking opportunities. The lighthouse is open to public viewing and offer’s spectacular panoramic vistas of Lake Michigan.

The Blue Water Ramblers, a folk music band that has been performing around the Great Lakes region for over 30 years, will be performing at the 150th Anniversary celebration of the Peninsula Point Lighthouse on Saturday, August 18th.  They will offer two hour-long maritime performances:  one at 1:00 and a second at 3:00.

The Blue Water Ramblers, a folk music band that has been performing around the Great Lakes region for over 30 years, will be performing at the 150th Anniversary celebration of the Peninsula Point Lighthouse on Saturday, August 18th. They will offer two hour-long maritime performances: one at 1:00 and a second at 3:00.

In addition to the usual fun at Peninsula Point, the Hiawatha National Forest will be offering extra incentives for visitation on July 18th during a 150th anniversary event!  Enjoy Great Lakes folk music celebrating this region’s rich cultural heritage by the Blue Water Ramblers and join Forest Service staff as they bring to life the Point’s natural and historical resources through engaging and interactive programs.  The entire event is free to the public.

 The celebration begins at 1:00pm on July 18th and festivities continue until approximately 4:30pm.  Folks are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. 

 

This file photo shows what the Peninsula Point Lighthouse looked like prior to the 1959 fire that burned the attached lighthouse keeper’s dwelling.  Now all that remains of the lighthouse is the brick tower.  The Forest Service will be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the lighthouse on Saturday, July 18th from 1 to 4:00 PM.

This file photo shows what the Peninsula Point Lighthouse looked like prior to the 1959 fire that burned the attached lighthouse keeper’s dwelling. Now all that remains of the lighthouse is the brick tower. The Forest Service will be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the lighthouse on Saturday, July 18th from 1 to 4:00 PM.

From 1866 until 1936 the Peninsula Point Lighthouse served a critical role in safely bringing in ships teeming with fish, lumber, iron ore and other products to the communities of Escanaba, Gladstone, Fayette and Nahma. In 1937 the United States Forest Service was granted custodianship of Peninsula Point Lighthouse and shortly following, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed picnic grounds on site for public use. Thanks to many dedicated individuals and user groups the Peninsula Point Lighthouse stands today as a monument to this region’s steadfastness and tenacious ability to overcome adversity.

The 40 foot brick tower is all that remains of the Peninsula Point lighthouse today.  Visitors are welcome to climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower to take in the panoramic view of Lake Michigan. Be sure to bring your camera and a picnic lunch!  The Forest Service will be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the lighthouse on Saturday, July 18th from 1 to 4:00 PM.

The 40 foot brick tower is all that remains of the Peninsula Point lighthouse today. Visitors are welcome to climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower to take in the panoramic view of Lake Michigan. Be sure to bring your camera and a picnic lunch! The Forest Service will be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the lighthouse on Saturday, July 18th from 1 to 4:00 PM.

To get to Peninsula Point from Rapid River drive 2.4 miles east on US-2 to County Road 513 turn right (southwest) on CR 513 and drive 17 miles to the RV parking lot. Please note that the last 0.8 mile road to the lighthouse is single lane, narrow and winding, and is NOT recommended for recreational vehicles or trailers over 16 feet long or 8 feet high. Pull-offs have been provided in case you meet on-coming traffic. A parking area for larger vehicles can be found at the beginning of the final mile of road, and folks are welcome to walk the interpretive trail to the lighthouse or walk the road.

For additional information, please contact Anne Okonek at the Forest Service office in Rapid River at 906-280-4135.

 

The Garden Peninsula’s Best Places for Fall Foliage

It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school, football is back on TV, and it’s only a matter of time before we break out the winter coats and snowblowers. Before that happens, though, we get to indulge in a classic U.P. tradition that draws visitors to Delta County from all over the Midwest: leaf peeping.

Few places in the U.P. offer a better range of fall color experiences than the Garden Peninsula, which boasts an impressive range of deciduous trees, secluded roads, stunning vistas and miles of shoreline. Let’s take a look at five of the peninsula’s notable foliage-viewing spots.

M-183: a Classic Shoreline Drive

The Garden Peninsula’s busiest road, M-183, also leads to its only proper settlement, Garden. M-183 splits off from US-2 about 15 miles west of Manistique. It heads south along the shore of Big Bay de Noc, rarely straying more than a quarter mile from the shoreline. For the first part of the drive, you’re surrounded by a gently rolling landscape of maple, basswood, oak and birch. These trees turn vibrant yellows, electric oranges and even deep red during the first couple weeks of October.

Though M-183 doesn’t have a lot of stretches right on the bay, you’ll catch glimpses of the water on your right as you drive south. The contrast of the deep blue (or slate gray, depending on the clouds) water against the stunning leaves is always welcome. Later in the season, as more leaves fall, these views open up and frame the remaining foliage even better.

Hidden Shores Drive/Road

On the opposite side of the peninsula, Hidden Shores Drive is a hard-to-find but rewarding treat. To get there, take County 435 south from US-2 — the split is just a couple miles west of Manistique — along the shore of Lake Michigan. You’ll get occasional views of the lake’s open waters as well as rich foliage displays in the surrounding birch-and-maple forest.

After a few miles, the road narrows and cuts left (east), turning into Hidden Shores Drive. Upon reaching the shore, it cuts right (south) again, offering stunning water-and-foliage views. Note that this road can be a bit treacherous during periods of inclement weather or after wet stretches, so it may be a good idea to bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle. It eventually peters out along the store, but plenty of hiking trails crisscross the woods here (just be wary of private property lines and wear bright colors if it’s hunting season).

Shingleton State Forest Area

At the “top” of the peninsula, the southern section of Shingleton State Forest Area is easily accessible from US-2. This is a great area for a leisurely hike with the kids or dogs and is fun in virtually any weather. One of the nice things about this protected area is that its forest isn’t 100 percent deciduous – with hemlocks and spruces mixed into the equation, the deep green provides a great contrast with brilliant oranges, yellows and reds.

Fayette Historic State Park

At the southern terminus of M-183, you’ll find Fayette Historic State Park, an often-overlooked gem in Michigan’s state park system. Although the main attraction here is the faithful recreation of an old-time logging and manufacturing town, Fayette is surrounded by deciduous forest that turns brilliant hues in the fall. Thanks to its prime location on Big Bay de Noc, it also offers stunning foliage views up and down the shoreline. And while it’s hard to make out the colors on the distant islands that connect the Garden and Door Peninsulas, that part of the view doesn’t hurt either.

Garden Grade Road and Manistique River State Forest

Garden Grade Road runs through the heart of Manistique River State Forest, a little-visited section of protected woodland in the west-central Garden Peninsula. The land here isn’t very rugged, but a handful of watercourses are pleasant to look at (and hike along). The real attraction here is the embrace of the seemingly endless maple and birch forest, which turns vibrant yellow and orange early in the season. Don’t forget the hiking boots and camera!

The Nahma Inn: Quaint, Comfortable, and (Maybe) Haunted

If you’re traveling between Manistique and Escanaba, along the shores of Big Bay de Noc, do yourself a favor and check out the historic little town of Nahma. Founded by a lumber company in the late 19th century, the town was a prosperous forestry hub for a generation or two. Eventually, it earned the dubious distinction of being one of the few American municipalities to be put up for sale in its entirety.

Nahma isn’t on the chopping block anymore. Today, it’s a quaint section of eastern Delta County and a reminder that nothing is permanent. It’s also home to one of the Upper Peninsula’s most interesting lodgings — the Nahma Inn.

What’s the Nahma Inn All About?

The Nahma Inn is located within easy reach of Big Bay de Noc. It’s open year-round, so keep it in mind if you’re heading our way for your next winter getaway. Though it was constructed in 1909, it has been refurbished since then, and it perfectly balances historic, rustic charm with the modern conveniences that you’d expect from a full-service inn. It’s also the gateway to the town of Nahma, which is among the best-preserved “company towns” — other examples include Alberta, Michigan, between L’Anse and Covington — in the Upper Midwest. For the inn’s guests, an on-site restaurant and performance space offers the chance to unwind and be entertained.

Haunted, or…?

There are plenty of historic lodging facilities scattered about the Upper Midwest, but the Nahma Inn has another claim to fame: It may or may not have a haunted room on the premises. According to legend, the ghost of Nell Fleming — the sweetheart of the local lumber company’s founder — lives in the aptly named “Nell’s Room” suite. Previous guests have reported strange happenings around the property, from rearranged furniture in Nell’s Room to broken dishes in the kitchen. If you’re brave enough to stay in Nell’s Room, you’ll have to let us know if you see her!

Accommodations and Amenities

The Nahma Inn is a great home base for exploring the Garden Peninsula and the shores of Big Bay de Noc. In the winter, check out Wilderness Trail Outfitters, a local company that specializes in dogsled adventures. Self-serve snowmobile trails abound here as well. When it’s warmer, the nearby Upper Peninsula Golf & Lake Resort and the Nahma Golf Course offer two challenging opportunities for visiting golfers. Down the Garden Peninsula, the abandoned town of Fayette stands in eerie splendor on the lakeshore. Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring), the state’s largest freshwater spring, is popular with visitors throughout the year.

Closer to the inn, the Bay de Noc Dining Room and Arrow Lounge can satiate your hunger and thirst without necessitating a drive to Manistique, Escanaba or Gladstone. In the summer, they’re open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Winter hours are a bit more constrained, but you should still be able to grab a bite or drink Wednesdays through Sundays. The Arrow Lounge has regular entertainment, too, with local musical acts and performers keeping things lively. The space is pretty big, so it’s a legitimate choice for weddings, rehearsals, anniversary parties and more!

And if it’s warm out, don’t hesitate to venture down to Nahma’s sandy beach. The protected waters of the bay are warm enough for adventurous swimmers from June through September, and it’s hard to beat the open-water and shoreline views you’ll get on clear days.

So what are you waiting for? Book your next Delta County vacation at the Nahma Inn!

Cool Beaches to Check Out in Delta County

The Escanaba municipal beach.

The Escanaba municipal beach.

Beaches come in all shapes and sizes. On the serene shores of Lake Michigan, you’ll find everything from secluded swimming holes and out of the way sand spits to bustling city beaches with modern amenities galore. And because this part of the world is big on the changing of the seasons, you’ll have something to do at these places throughout the calendar year. If you’re ready to explore the points where Delta County’s rolling landscape meets seemingly boundless Lake Michigan, check out these beaches – and the two or three dozen other spots that welcome members of the public all year long.

Sac Bay Beach

Located just off County Road 438, near the end of the Garden Peninsula, Sac Bay Beach is just one part of beautiful Sac Bay Park. This 65-acre expanse includes a mature mixed forest of pines, hemlock, spruce, fir, maple, basswood and birch. After you’ve had your fill of the trails that wend through the tract, pitch your tent at the nearby campground and bring your cooler down to the secluded beach on beautiful Big Bay de Noc.

If you squint just hard enough, you might be able to see the lights of Escanaba in the distance – but, more likely, you’ll be gazing out on the broad expanse of Lake Michigan as the sun winks over the horizon. There’s not as much sand here as at some other Lake Michigan beaches, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t break out the towel and soak up some rays after taking a dip in the cool, clear water.

O.B. Fuller Park and Campground

O.B. Fuller Campground

O.B. Fuller Campground

One of the most popular non-city parks in Delta County, O.B. Fuller Park and Campground occupies a choice location on the Lake Michigan shore, in the county’s southeastern corner. Much of the 85-acre campsite is taken up by modern campsites that can accommodate full-size RVs, but there’s a sizable amount of well-preserved forest land as well. And visitors to this beautiful spot get two great bodies of water for the price of one: The Bark River, with its excellent fishing and wildlife-spotting opportunities, passes right by on its way to Lake Michigan. The mouth of the river lies at the campground’s beach, which is a family-friendly swimming hole that warms up (fairly) quickly in the summer.

Escanaba and Gladstone City Beaches

Delta County’s biggest settlements both lie on Little Bay de Noc, within easy boating distance of larger Green Bay and the open expanse of Lake Michigan. Both have beautiful, popular municipal beaches that attract sun-seekers during the warm months and winter sports junkies during the cold season. Escanaba’s sits in the heart of Ludington Park, Escanaba’s most popular city park. You can easily spend a few hours here and then head downtown or a bite at one of Ludington Street’s trendy eateries. In Gladstone, the municipal beach doubles as a popular campground. Hitch your trailer here and dive into the sparkling waters of Little Bay de Noc!

Point Detour Beach

City beaches aren’t your speed? Looking for a more secluded place to spread out and dip your toes in the water? Escape to the end of the road – literally – at Point Detour beach, located at one of the farthest-flung corners of the Garden Peninsula. Due to treacherous underwater formations and unpredictable weather, several shipwrecks lie just offshore, although you’ll need proper equipment and training to reach them. Curious limestone formations, complete with prehistoric fossils, dot the shoreline here. And evidence of settlement as far back as 2,000 years makes Point Detour one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the Upper Peninsula. Even if you just spread out a towel and enjoy a cold beverage on a warm afternoon, though, you’ll get plenty out of your time at this special beach.

What are you waiting for? Throw on your swim trunks, pack a picnic lunch, and hit the sand (or rocks)! If you’d like to learn about Delta County beaches that didn’t make this list, don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’ll give you the lowdown.

Ludington Park: The Crown Jewel of Escanaba’s Park System

From the intersection of U.S. 2 at the edge of downtown Escanaba, the view down Ludington Street is an impressive one. Have you ever gazed out that way and wondered how Ludington Street got its name (it’s more than a hundred miles across the lake from the lower Michigan town of the same name, after all)? Or, for that matter, what lies at the far edge of your view?

The answer to both of those questions – sort of – is Ludington Park, one of Escanaba’s most popular outdoor attractions. Let’s discover why this gem needs to be high on your list of things to see on your next visit to Escanaba.

Ludington Park: Location and Layout

Located at the eastern end of Ludington Street, on the beautiful waterfront of Little Bay de Noc, Ludington Park draws hundreds of visitors on nice days (and a fair number on gloomy, cold ones, too). The park actually stretches a long ways down the shoreline, angling back to the southwest and encompassing a beautiful series of inlets. It’s also within spitting distance of the Sand Point Lighthouse and Delta County Historical Society, two popular attractions for Delta County visitors. So if you’re sick of walking (or snowshoeing) along the waterfront with the breeze in your hair – or if that breeze is driving sleet or snow into your face – you can certainly take shelter in some interesting indoor spaces here.

During the warm season, you can take advantage of plenty of outdoor facilities here too. From the basketball, tennis and volleyball courts to the boat-friendly confines of the nearby harbor (complete with Escanaba’s main marina), it can take hours to exhaust your options. A beach and wading pool offers swimming opportunities for folks of all ages and skill levels. And during the cool season, a hockey and skating rink caters to fans of true U.P. sports.

Special Events and Attractions

But the real highlights of Ludington Park are the scheduled events that enliven the place throughout the warm season. During the summer, Blues for a Cause sponsors Monday evening (7 to 9 pm) music shows that attract such luminaries as the Madison Avenue horn/rhythm band and the Cadillacs classic rock band. Meanwhile, the Escanaba City Band plays at the Karas Band Shell on weekday summer evenings (the rain date is Thursday). Bigger events occasionally come to the park as well, with the city offering a speedy event application process.

Visit Ludington Park Soon!

In Delta County, nature and history collide. And you don’t have to travel far off the beaten path to see both in the same location. At Ludington Park, you’ll find something to keep the whole family busy – and more than enough to keep you coming back a second and third time.

Check Out the Delta County Historical Society

delta county historial society1Don’t let our virtually untouched forests and pristine coastline fool you. Here in Delta County, history is everywhere. While we have more than our fair share of older buildings, well-worn farmsteads and educational markers, the Delta County Historical Society’s sheer concentration of historical artifacts and exhibits makes the place hard to beat. Let’s take a look at what the DCHS is all about – and what its hardworking employees and volunteers have been up to lately.

A Closer Look at the Delta County Historical Society

The Delta County Historical Society is located near Ludington Park in Escanaba, Delta County’s largest city. The grounds, which overlook beautiful Little Bay de Noc, support two buildings: the historic Sand Point Lighthouse and a recently rebuilt structure that houses the historical society’s museum and archives. Both places are worth a visit.

delta county historial society9First up, the museum. Once housed in an old radio studio, the DCHS Museum houses a comprehensive collection of artifacts that spans nearly two centuries of Delta County’s history. Locals, take note: The museum relies on donations to support its entire collection! At the moment, admission fees are set at $3 for individuals, $1 for children and $5 for families. The museum is currently in the process of a welcome transition into its new digs – a spacious, modern structure near the intersection of Water Plant Road and Ludington Street – and won’t be open to the public until this summer.

Right next door, the Sand Point Lighthouse presides over the upper reaches of Little Bay de Noc. Erected in the late 1860s, it helped ships steer clear of a dangerous reef for about 70 years. Remarkably, it continued to operate even after the arrival of the railroad from the south – and a fire that nearly destroyed the entire structure.

By the late 1930s, though, it had succumbed to age and obsolescence and was taken out of commission for good. (A “crib light,” positioned in the shallow water just offshore, replaced it.) For a time, the Coast Guard used it as a base of operations as well as a private residence for its local officer-in-charge. After the Coast Guard moved to a new facility in the mid-1980s, the DCHS arranged a long-term lease on the structure and restored it to its historic glory.

And when we say “glory,” we mean it.

Getting Involved (or Just Stopping By)

delta county historial society7Now that the Delta County Historical Society has found its way into modern digs that are worthy of its mission, it’s looking for members, donors and volunteers to help it sustain the momentum. If you’re a regular visitor to the Escanaba area, consider going all in for an individual lifetime membership. If you run a business that might benefit from regular access to the DCHS, a commercial membership might be the way to go. And if you just plan on stopping by on your own or with your family, a basic individual or family membership is probably your best bet.

If you’d prefer to contribute time instead of money, the DCHS is always looking for folks to help with various projects, speak with visitors, and just generally keep the place looking sharp.

Interested in touring the Delta County Historical Society? You’ll need to call ahead to confirm your reservations, but the place currently charges just $75 for busloads of 40 or more people and $50 for busloads of 50 or fewer.

One final point: If you live in Delta County and own an artifact or heirloom that you believe is worthy of inclusion in the DCHS’s collection, read this brief primer on how and what to donate. When in doubt, give the historical society’s friendly staff a call or drop by to discuss your donation in person!

Finding the Delta County Historical Society

Ready to visit yet? We hope so. The Delta County Historical Society isn’t hard to find – it’s located out on Sand Point, just beyond downtown Escanaba. To get there, follow Ludington Street east from the intersection of U.S. 2/41 and M-35. After you pass the Delta County Economic Development Alliance office and enter Ludington Park, make a left on Water Plant Road. Almost immediately, you’ll see the Sand Point Lighthouse and the historical society’s main building.

And on the off chance that you get lost, you can “virtually” reach the historical society by calling (906) 789-6790 or emailing deltacountyhistsoc@sbcglobal.net.

Ten Mile Creek Forge and Gift Shop

ten mile creek forge and gift shop3Ten Mile Creek Forge is a great little gift slash blacksmithing shop tucked away about seven miles from Bark River, MI.

It’s a scenic drive out to Ten Mile Creek, and once there you’ll be rewarded with a true “something for everyone” type of gift shop. From completely handmade knives to locally made pottery, blown glass and dozens of other items, this little gift shop is well worth a stop.

The business is run by George and Maureen Potvin, both local artists. George is a self taught blacksmith and well known for his quality work. Maureen is a potter and photographer who said that these days she spends most of her time running the gift shop, but some of her work is still up on the walls for display.

The Gift Shop

ten mile creek forge and gift shop1When Maureen and George decided they wanted a gift shop, George built it. He was working at the nearby paper mill at the time and built the gift shop in his spare time.

The gift shop is also a gallery of sorts, with the work of over thirty different artists for sale. Most of the items for sale are made by area residents, but there are a few things from out of state or even out of the country.

The Blacksmith Shop

According to Maureen, George does mostly custom work out of his blacksmith shop. Custom work, and knives. George makes different types of knives, including several types of Damascus knives. And unlike many “custom” knife makers, he also crafts the handles (usually from exotic wood or antler) and accompanying leather sheathes.

George is also the head blacksmith at the U.P. steam and gas engine village and does blacksmithing demonstrations for various organizations.

Other things to note: If you want to try your hand at blacksmithing, custom day long lessons (with lunch provided) are available. Just call Ten Mile Creek Forge to schedule your lesson!

Address: 1691 17th Road Bark River, MI 49807

Phone: (906) 466-2276

Hours: M, T, W, F, Sat: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Please call before your visit to verify.)

My First Visit to the Peninsula Point Lighthouse

peninsula point lighthouse stonington peninsula michigan3 I grew up about forty-five minutes from the Peninsula Point Lighthouse, but until recently, I’d never been there.

And now that I have, I can say without a doubt that I’ll be back often.

Getting there

As with most lighthouses, getting there is half the fun.

Like most waterfalls, historic places and scenic sites in the U.P., the Peninsula Point Lighthouse is a little off the beaten path. True, one could say the entire Upper Peninsula is “off the beaten path,” but many points of interest in our neck of the woods require a little more work still.

Directions

From Escanaba, I headed east on U.S. 2 for about eighteen miles to county road 513. A small sign that read “Peninsula Point” just before the turn onto CR-513 let me know I was headed in the right direction. I turned south onto 513.

And then, on the sixteen or so mile drive through the lovely Stonington Peninsula, an occasional sign on the side of the road marked how many miles remained until the lighthouse. The road out to the lighthouse was almost entirely paved. It’s curvy, and scenic.

peninsula point lighthouse stonington peninsula michigan14Less than a mile before the lighthouse, the pavement stopped, a dirt road continued, and a sign that read “RV’s / Hiking trail” marked a large parking area for those who wished to hike in.

On a nicer day, I would have done just that. But with temperatures in the forties, wind and rain, I decided to drive all the way to the lighthouse.

I continued on the dirt road and can say that even though the remainder of the road wasn’t paved, it was definitely accessible by pretty much any vehicle. At least that was the case when I was there.

My First Impression

Due to the less than ideal weather I thought I might have the lighthouse to myself, but there was one other car in the parking area.

A mother had brought her infant son out to see the lighthouse. She said she had great memories of Peninsula Point from her childhood and couldn’t wait to bring her son here on his first visit to the U.P.

Exploring the Lighthouse

I walked around the lighthouse grounds a bit, read the interpretive sign about the Monarch butterfly migration (for which Peninsula Point is a hotspot in the fall) and then strolled over to the lighthouse.

Before my visit I wasn’t sure if you could climb the lighthouse. You definitely can! The Peninsula Point lighthouse is open to the public and there’s no charge to climb it. The iron spiral staircase inside appears to be original and the overall lighthouse is well maintained.

The View

Even though it was a gray day, I could see across Little Bay de Noc to Escanaba. I could see across Big Bay de Noc to the Garden Peninsula. The Monarchs had all flown south weeks before, but the scenery was still beautiful without them.

The setting is serene, too. As with most lighthouses, Peninsula Point is remote. It inspires reflection.  This is a place to come to relax and breath the freshest of fresh air.

Looking south, the horizon on Lake Michigan is endless. The large grassy areas surrounding the lighthouse make this a choice spot to let your kids or dogs play for an afternoon, and the several permanent grills on site make it an easy spot for an afternoon cookout.

And did I mention the view?

I’ll be back, Peninsula Point Lighthouse. I’ll be back.

– Written by Jesse Land on behalf of the Bays de Noc Visitor’s Bureau

A Beginner’s Guide to Fayette State Park

Fayette State Park, once a bustling company town, is now arguably Michigan’s most unique state park. This well-preserved ghost town sits next to a gorgeous natural harbor and towering limestone cliffs. It’s as much an attraction for it’s natural beauty as it is for it’s interesting history.

fayette state park2A Little History

Founded in 1867 by the Jackson Iron Company, Fayette was established to manufacture pig iron, a brittle form of iron. The site was chosen because of the abundance of limestone and hardwood nearby, two key ingredients in the pig iron manufacturing process. During its twenty four years of existence, a total of 229,288 tons of iron were produced here!

During its heyday, several hundred people lived and worked at Fayette. A hotel, company office, company store, machine shop, opera house and many of the original buildings still stand today and are open to the public.

Present Day Use

fayette state park3Present day visitors to Fayette are welcomed by a modern information center that houses an information desk, a large model of what the town used to look like, a souvenir store and restrooms. Guided tours are offered every half hour and are well worth your time as the roughly twenty minute tour will give you a great idea of what Fayette was all about.

The guided tour ends in the middle of the historic town site where you’re then free to explore twenty or so restored buildings on your own, have a picnic lunch next to the natural harbor or go for a hike up on the limestone bluff, which offer an excellent view of the town.

Fishing / Boating

There’s a nice launch boat launch in the park that allows access to Snail Shell Harbor and Little Bay de Noc. It’s a hard-surface ramp with a dock and sufficient water depth to accommodate most trailerable boats. A state park entrance permit is required.

Paddling

fayette state park3According to Kevin Hillstrom and Laurie Collier Hillstrom, authors of Paddle Michigan (2001): The kayaking around Fayette is suitable for novice paddlers, provided they limit their exploration to the park shoreline and immediate environs. The township sits on a curling spit of land between Sand Bay, which has a pleasant beach area backed by cedar, pine, and hardwood forest, and Snail Shell Harbor, a tranquil little cove guarded by tremendous limestone bluffs. You can check out both areas-and receive fine views of the village itself to boot-in a single leisurely afternoon of paddling. (p. 185)

Swimming

A large sandy beach on the shore of Sand Bay makes a good spot for swimming or sunbathing. A foot trail connects the beach to the Fayette campground.

Hiking

Fayette features five miles of hiking trails that include paved walkways around the village and gravel trails that lead up and around the adjacent limestone bluff. A short hike up the hill across Snail Shell harbor leads to a scenic overlook that affords a splendid view of the village.

A detailed map of the Fayette trail system is available here.

Places to Stay

For a listing of lodging options near Fayette, click here.

Camping

Sixty-one campsites are available at the Fayette Semi-Modern campground. All sites have electrical service (some with 50 amp service). Other amenities include vault toilets and potable water. There are no showers.

Dining

Within walking distance of the Fayette state park campground (and just a short drive or slightly longer walk from the town site) sits Sherry’s Port Bar. Sherry’s offers a family friendly atmosphere and a full menu, including an all you can eat whitefish fish fry on Friday’s. (4424 II Ln Garden, MI 49835 – 906.644.2545)

Heritage Day

On the second Saturday of August the annual Heritage Day is held is held at Fayette. The event celebrates the heyday of Fayette as a bustling iron smelting company town. Activities for the day include period displays, food, and music.

Hours for Fayette State Park

Mid-May through Mid-June: 9 AM to 5 PM eastern time
Labor Day through mid-October: 9 AM to 7 PM eastern time

Contact Information
Address: 4785 II Road Garden, MI 49835
Phone: (906) 644-2603