September 26-27, 2010
We left Paradise, Mi heading for Marquette. Highway 123 from Paradise to Newberry the color was at about 60%, not as good as around Tahquamenon Falls where there were more hardwoods and more mature trees. Hwy M28 Newberry to Munising was not as attractive due to lowland terrain and predominance of pine, spruce, jack pine and aspen. As we got closer to Munising, we detoured off M28 onto H15 to H58. Better trees and better color. By this time Munising color change had advanced some; it was now about 50%. We took Highway 28 running along the Lake Superior shore to Marquette. The route along the lake has a number of scenic lake views but due to higher % of aspen & birch plus some scrub oak, peak color was still perhaps two weeks away.
Dan and I played Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club. This one of Dan’s favorite courses both for the scenery and the unique challenges of the terrain. A most scenic golf course with numerous rock outcrops, dramatic elevation changes, rolling and sloping fairways, unique and challenging terrain features, and some great views of Lake Superior. Very few flat or level greens, typically they were dished, domed, or multi-tiered with challenging cup locations. As a high handicap golfer, I would not normally play such a challenging course but despite all the terrain challenges and difficult greens I very much enjoyed the experience and found the course quite playable. Confronting the challenges was fun. See brochure with pro tips for info on particular holes. The next day Dan and I returned to the Marquette Golf Club to play the Heritage Course. While the open fairways and larger greens suggest the course might be an easier play, sand traps guarding the approach to several greens and subtle changes in the surface of the greens had us scoring higher-than-expected. While the course is well maintained and has a nice layout, as a companion to the upscale Greywalls course, it could use a bit more attention to some details like diagrams of the hole layout at each tee box, more than one yardage stake, and more paving on cart paths.
While we were golfing Jo and Donna drove over to Iron Industry History Museum in Nauganee, Michigan. In additon to the Museum they have a really interesting interpretive nature walk through the forest surrounding the facility. They found some of the best color on the trip here. It overlooks the Carp River and the site of the first iron forge in the Lake Superior region. In addition to the outdoor interpretive trail, inside the center features interesting exhibits and audiovisual programs on the development of the mining industry in the Upper Peninsula. A worthwhile educational side trip for those visiting in the Marquette area.
The next day, September 28th, we headed west towards Ironwood and caught up with more rain and colder weather. Along Michigan Hwy 28 from Michigamme to Wakefield, MI the Aspen & Birch were showing good color but some Maples were past peak. Along US 2 from Wakefield to Ironwood - 95% peak color on Maples, 70% on Aspen & Birch. Some of the best color scenery, plus some fine hiking, in the western UP is in the Porcupine Mountains and in Black River Harbor Park. Among the best waterfalls in Michigan and mature northern hardwood forests which are the best for great fall color. We didn't stop there this visit as we have enjoyed these views on numerous occasions in the past. And we had reservations in Ashland. From Ironwood, Michigan to 10 miles west of Ashland the color at this time was at peak on Maples, approaching peak on Aspen and Oak. A great fall scenic stop along this stretch is Potato Falls town park, located about 5 miles south of US 2 near the town of Gurney.
Were we to do this trip again rather than heading directly to the central UP from Wisconsin, I'd recommend first going to the Western UP, visiting Black River Harbor and the Porcupine Mountains. They will have the earliest color change along Lake Superior. Then run up to Copper Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula along US 41 you'll see some terrific color. Golfers can get their fix at Wyandotte Hills and Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, both very scenic and enjoyable 9 hole courses. Then head towards Marquette and Munising. By that time the color should be showing pretty nicely. Be sure to catch a Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise and visit Tahquamenon Falls. If you have made your trip from Minneapolis, on your return you'll begin to see some nice color from Bayfield to Duluth as these areas are typically at least two weeks behind the Western UP.