Thursday, November 1, 2018

During the Winter Months Activity Can Remain Strong!

Physical activity is the elixir to a healthy life style.  There is nothing as exhilarating as a crisp morning hike, the snow crisply crunching with each step and exhilarated by the incredible vistas that lay before you.  South of Paradise there is a striking non-motorized trail along the wild Tahquamenon River, the Tahqua Trail Hike maintained by the Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter of the North Country Trail.  Don't feel like venturing out on your own?  The group organizes a number of hikes throughout the winter months.  Get a great start on New Year's Day with their first hike on the first.

The Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers lantern lit trails for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing Saturday evenings in February.  The 50,000 acre park itself hosts miles and miles of the best hiking trails in the Upper Peninsula.  Afterward, enjoy a Black Bear Stout at Camp 33, a natural celebration of a day well spent.  December 1, the park offers a traditional snow shoe building workshop. 

Maybe your interest falls in motorized trails.  Paradise is located within a 120 plus mile complex of groomed snowmobile trails maintained by the Paradise Area Night Riders
Courtesy Terry Humphrey
Traveling from Whitefish Point to the Tahquamenon Upper Falls, take a break and walk the 1/2 mile to take in the incredible site of the Upper Falls in winter, then continuing north, northwest to Pine Stump Junction among the hard woods is a trek favored by many Michigan and Wisconsin snowmobile enthusiasts.

Snowmobile racing  reaches its peak with the Soo 500, held Saturday, February 2, 2019.  The i-500 brings racers from around the world to test the endurance of some 38 drivers and machines over a one mile oval ice track in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan just 60 miles from Paradise. There is a full week of special activities building up to race day, Saturday, the 2nd.

Compliments Nature's Kennel
Dog sled rides with Nature's Kennel and dog sled races are another activity to enjoy during the winter months.  Sled dogs have been used to transport people and goods through snow since the beginning of time.  Nature's Kennel has developed multiple excursion possibilities for everyone in the family.  On  January 5 2019 the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Races will offer their 20th race near Muskallonge Lake State Park, 45 miles north west of Paradise.

Maybe photography is more your style.  The world class sunrises and sunsets are as powerful in the winter months as they are in summer.
Whitefish Point Light Station Courtesy Local Photographer, Terry Humphrey

Ice climbing and ice cave explorations are activities that involve a hint of danger.  The combination of lake effect snow, waterfalls, the presence of  sandstone cliffs, and the water that flows between rock layers to create curtains of ice make Munising a prime location. A mecca for Ice climbing guides and adventures just a 90 minute ride from Paradise.  These adventures offer unique experiences in Ice climbing and cave explorations but a word of caution, take steps to be careful.

Ice fishing is a local favorite in the winter months.  Fish caught in the ice cold water of the region take on an invigorating flavor, freshness that suits the finest of culinary officiants.   Curtis Michigan, no more 65 miles south west of Paradise offers their annual 4th Frostbite Pike Fishing Contest, January 29.  If you haven't iced fish for some time, make plans to get out on the ice in 2019 and savor the flavor of your catch.

Have you considered fat bike riding or winter cycling?  Why stay inside on a stationary bike when you can get out on the trails of the eastern UP on a fat bike?  Better yet, bring your friends and take a fat bike for a spin!

There is no reason to be inactive in the winter months.  If you are cold, long johns and wool, make for the perfect body temperatures especially when you are active.  Your footing gets a bit slippery?  Try cleats on your favorite hiking boots.  Given today's technology and advances in thermal clothing and winter footwear, stay active this winter, for the health and shear beauty of it.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Experience Hiking the Park to Park North Country Trail

On August 17, Trisha and I set out headed east on Coastguard Rd., a mile north of Deer Park, for our 35 mile Park to Park hike. This was the one that had been in my sights for years, and I was looking forward to exploring the area. Our goal was to reach the Upper Falls by the 20th , camping the third night anywhere along the NCT between Culhane Lake and Tahquamenon Falls State Park, provided there was an established camp site with a good water source. We knew by studying the map before the hike that water may be scarce after Culhane Lake, so plans might change. We had pre-planned and were ready. Our gear list was solid. We were well equipped with 4 days’ worth of food and the essentials, food prep (pocket rocket and fuel), shelter (2-man tent, pads and bags), and water (2 Sawyer mini filters, bottles, and a 3 Liter reservoir),extra clothes, rain gear etc. We were ready to carry 3 liters of extra water if needed. With smiles on our faces from sheer excitement, we were on our way!

The hike
      When reviewing the map (pre-hike), we knew 2 things that we were going to encounter on the first and second day. The first was that we would be walking on sand—it is an ancient sand dune after all—and there was a lot of that. The trail traveled from the lake shore, where it was hard packed and easy. We were able to take in beautiful views and a cool breeze, before heading back to Coastguard Rd a few times to avoid private property. Scrubby Jack Pines lined the trail, and for a stretch we crossed through a clear cut. Despite the road walk and the sand we looked forward to camping on the beach that night, and it did not disappoint. We set up camp, enjoyed the sunset and watched freighters go by. 
     The second thing we knew during our pre-hike map review is that we were going to be hiking through the Duck Lake Fire zone. The trail became a classroom of sorts. We were learning first-hand how a forest regenerates after a fire. After all, there are 2 things that regenerate a forest: human intervention and fire. The undergrowth bounced back quickly and it was easy to make pigs of ourselves with the abundance of blueberries. The Aspens, Jack Pines and oaks were growing up nice and healthy. Some were about 6 foot tall. We stopped for lunch at the Two Hearted River mouth campground. That was halfway to Culhane Lake, our stop for the night. We replenished our water bottles from the pump and filled our stomachs, then headed out. We walked through about 7 miles of the burn zone, which continued beyond Little Lake Harbor, and we were relieved to finally get back into mature forest.  Culhane Lake was a lovely place to camp, but be prepared to pay for a site and the well doesn’t have a handle. Water can be easily filtered from the lake.  Day 3. The mystery day. We set out in the morning not really knowing what the day was going to bring or where we were going to spend the night. We liked the idea of true off trail backcountry camping but we were willing to hike all the way to the Upper Falls if we needed to. The defining factor was a suitable campsite close to a reliable watersource. 
      The trail in this portion was hard packed and the terrain was moderate. It wound around swampland and the view at Parcell Lake was beautiful. Then….. road walking. About 4 miles of it until you get past Swamp Lake Road. Our plan was to camp at Rat Lake, but there wasn’t an established campsite or a place that met our criteria mentioned earlier. We filtered much needed water from the Little Two Hearted and made a decision. We were going to hike the remaining 7 miles to the Upper Falls and get out a day early. The hiking through the northern portion of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park was much like the rest of the hiking that day, but we were getting into Hemlock stands. Huge trees! Very exciting.
      We marched on knowing that our reward, a cold beer from Camp 33 and food we didn’t have to boil water for, lay ahead. We were going to finish a 16-mile day with a bang.
The trail guide was correct. It was an easy to moderate hike that can be done by experienced and novice hikers alike. It yielded breath taking views of Lake Superior and the silence of Red Pine stands, but this is not in any way your typical hike. It is an honest to goodness look at how a forest is managed by us and by nature itself, which may be a turn off to some seeking a jaunt through the woods. Trisha and I agreed that the regeneration of the forest through the Duck Lake burn zone was a must see. A beautiful sight to behold. Hikers should be warned of the lack of water stops between Culhane Lake and the Upper Falls, and they should be prepared to stop and filter any chance they get. It wasn’t easy. Also, they should be prepared to camp along the trail in that area unless they want to put in a long 16-mile day like we did. When promoting this stretch of the North Country Trail, just like any trail system, advocating safety, emphasis on planning, leave no trace principals and hanging a bear bag are an absolute must.

Trisha Winn played in woods, rivers, and fields most of her life, and started backpacking seriously in 2017.  She teaches high school English and college writing courses in the western UP.  Her essays, poetry, and academic work have been published by Hippocampus Magazine, Peninsula College Press, TOSKA, and others. Matthew Hall grew up in Alma, MI and is a resident of Gwinn MI. He is an avid hiker / backpacker and amateur photographer with an undying love for nature. He was the recent 2018 people’s choice award winner at the Ironwood MI Downtown Art Projects “Through the Camer’s Eye” photography exhibit.

Friday, August 3, 2018

2018 Michigan Lighthouse Festival Kick Off Program

Marge Ellenberger, Michigan Lighthouse Festival Director, Welcomes Guest to the 3rd Michigan Lighthouse Festival Program
The Third Michigan Lighthouse Festival Kick-Off Program was held at the Bay Mills Casino in Brimley, Michigan, Friday evening, August 3.  The program appealed to lighthouse enthusiasts traveling from Virginia, New York, Missouri, Ohio, and of course, Michigan, home of 129 lighthouses.  Visitors were greeted by Keeper of the Great Lakes Lights, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Jahn of Smith Creek, Michigan, dressed in period costumes and encouraging attendees to visit the area lighthouses during the weekend:  Crisp Point Lighthouse, Point Iroquois Lighthouse, and the Whitefish Point Light Station.  Mr. Jahn, a U.S.L.H.E. Inspector period reenactor, encouraged guests to make donations at each lighthouse, either monetary or volunteering their time to the success of each program.
Keeper of the Great Lakes Lights, Mr. & Mrs. Carl Jahn Welcome Guests
 The Bay Mills Resort Casino in Brimley, Michigan, a major sponsor of the Michigan Lighthouse Festival was the host of the Friday Kick Off program.  A fine buffet of Beef Steak with Peppers, Chicken Alfredo, vegetables, garlic roasted potatoes and fine desserts prepared by the Bay Mills Resort Casino's culinary chefs was complimented with excellent and attentive service!

The Gordon Lightfoot Tribute with Mike Fornes of Mackinaw City and his band, Whispers of the North, capped off the evening with an intimate look into the Canadian born songwriter/singer's collection of nationally recognized and appreciated music.

The Gordon Lightfoot Tribute Performs for the Michigan Lighthouse Festival Kick-Off Program

Marge Ellenberger, Michigan Lighthouse Festival Director, expressed sincerest appreciation to the 3rd Michigan Lighthouse Festival sponsors, Bay Mills Resort Casino, Paradise Area Tourism Council, Sault Ste Marie Visitors Bureau, the Newberry Area Chamber of Commerce,  Mackinac Pasties, and Radio Eagle.  Coordinating the festival Mrs. Ellenberger worked with lighthouse directors:  Rick Brockway, Crisp Point Light Historical Society Director, Kari Vanderheuel, East Zone Recreation Program Manager of the US Forest Service, and Bruce Lynn, Great Lakes Historical Society Director.  During the weekend, each lighthouse is offering special programs for the benefit of these lighthouse enthusiasts and the general public.
Crisp Point Historical Society President, Rick Brockway (left), Marge Ellenberger, Michigan Lighthouse Festival Director, and Bruce Lynn, Great Lakes Historical Society Director

Saturday and Sunday in the festival program, attendees were encouraged to visit each light house location, and to stop at the Lighthouse MarketPlace at the Whitefish Township Community Center from 9 am to 5 pm.  The market place is a collection of lighthouse information booths and arts and crafts vendors.  The Paradise United Methodist Church offered a Pastie meal for $10 at the community center, a fund raiser for the church and a compliment to the festivities.  Saturday evening the Mighty Hiawatha Band performed at the Whitefish Township Community Center before starting at 7 PM.  Sunday the lighthouses continued to offer special programs and the marketplace was set up at the community center.  Festival details are available at


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Experience Fall Color Tours in Michigan's Paradise

Yes, as I write these thoughts,  it is only June.  Snow has been gone in the Paradise area only since May 10.  At least that is the case in my yard.  I know it hung around in the woods north of us for a few more days.  So, why am I  already talking about Fall Color Tours?  Because some of you are already making plans to experience Fall Color Tours in Michigan's Paradise.  
Tahquamenon Scenic Byway, October 2017

That's right, reservation requests for September and October are already coming in across the wires. I wanted to give the rest of you a head's to be thinking about the cooler weather of fall; plan to experience the colors of that season.  Why not?  Paradise is located in an ideal location for some of the best colors in the Upper Peninsula, voted one of the top locations in the country by one or more surveys.  The Hiawatha National Forest is located south of Paradise and the Tahquamenon Falls State Park has Paradise hemmed in to the West, then of course there is the incredible Lake Superior to the north and east of Paradise.

Crossing the Mighty Mac Bridge gets a fall color drive started out right.  You will catch state road M-123 north of St. Ignace, Michigan, exit 352 on I-75.  Follow M-123 north of Trout Lake to Paradise; there is abrupt turn just past the railroad.  You will be amazed at the colors that are splashed across the trees throughout your trip.  Probably the best colors are from September 28 through October 22.  Weather is a factor, you can play it safe and follow the weather predictors, but then you might miss scheduling your favorite place for a couple of nights in Paradise.  At M-28, M-123 becomes the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway. 
Tahquamenon Scenic Byway at Graham's Hill
Traveling north of M-28 you'll connect with the Curley Lewis Scenic Byway or the National Whitefish Scenic Byway.  Some resources had said at one time or another that the Curley Lewis or Lake Shore Drive just south of Whitefish Bay that meanders among the hard wood trees of the Hiawatha National Forest and M-123 north of that intersection all the way to Whitefish Point was all a part of the National Whitefish Scenic Byway.  For us locals, we can see the connection.  After all, it hugs Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay shoreline.

While you are in Paradise there are several points of interest to put on your agenda:  Tahquamenon Falls State Park both the Upper and Lower Falls.  Hike the North Country Scenic Trail along the Tahqua Road and follow the wilderness river, Taquamenon for breath taking, photo opportunities. Just in case you would like to see some of the activities in the Paradise area this fall to supplement your visit: The Tahquamenon Wilderness Canoe Race is Saturday, September 15.  This race is sponsored by the Michigan Canoe Racing Association.  Oswald's Bear Ranch is open until October 1 but the Shipwreck Museum is open through October 31.  (The Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service is November 10.)     The Haunted Trail is October  12 and 13, the Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers a Harvest Festival, October 13 and the Shipwreck Museum offers a Run for the Light (10k Run and 5k Run/Fun Walk) the 13th as well. 

Whitefish Point Light Station
There are three lighthouses in the immediate area:  Whitefish Point Light Station, Crisp Point Lighthouse, and Point Iroquois Lighthouse.  The colors of the trees, the blue skies and the blue waters are breathtaking.  Exploring the history of these treasures seems well suited to a fall trip.  In your dining options, you must stop for a Black Bear Stout brew at Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub, often known locally as Camp 33.  This is a micro brewery that captures the essence of each season; you might even want to try a Harvest Wheat Ale while enjoying grilled Whitefish.  The Inn, Gastropub & Smokehouse offers a UP north rustic Cuisine with a slow, southern drawl. The Berry Patch puts up a great Lumberjack breakfast and pasty, while the Silver Creek Grill & Pub just south of Paradise on M-123 offers a Friday night fish fry that is a local favorite.

Have you made plans to Experience Fall Colors in Michigan's Paradise?  If you haven't, we invite you to look over your schedule and plan a couple of days in September or October to get unplugged, and reconnect with the rhythm of the planet.  Once you have your schedule in mind, reach out to one or our finest accommodations and schedule a comfortable place to relax and unwind! You won't regret making those plans today.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Inspiring a Light Within the Future of the Lighthouse Preservation Movement

Whitefish Point Light Station
Lighthouse enthusiasts are passionate about the structures they have adopted and often honor lighthouse keepers by uncovering historical records and sharing their stories.  These structures and people were often in remote areas of the world offering a beacon to ships as they passed through storms or near dangerous shorelines. In the mid-19th century, United States lighthouse keepers often served in the U. S. Life Saving Service, an organization that grew out of local humanitarian efforts to save the lives of the shipwrecked in the 19th century.  The lighthouse was a proactive approach to prevent shipwrecks but as records reveal this was not a foolproof plan.

In Michigan, identified by the 2018 International Lighthouse Conference as the "heart of lighthouse country", there are 129 lighthouses, and many historical societies working to honor and protect this component of history, threatened quite often by neglect and erosion.  An objective of many lighthouse historical groups is to educate and develop, if you will, a spark of interest in the next generation so that efforts may continue and sustain the lighthouse preservation movement. 
Crisp Point Lighthouse
The three lighthouses in the 2018 Michigan Lighthouse Festival's beam is the Crisp Point Lighthouse, Point Iroquois Lighthouse, and Whitefish Point Light Station.  Each lighthouse has its own unique history and group of individuals that get involved in the preservation of the structure and its related stories.  This, the third Michigan Lighthouse Festival, incorporates a kick-off banquet dinner and concert,  the Gordon Lightfoot Tribute, at the renowned Bay Mills Resort & Casinos in Brimley, Michigan.  Special programs will be held at each lighthouse throughout Saturday and Sunday. More specific details about the festival are available at At the Whitefish TownshipCommunity Center, located south of Paradise on State Route M-123 there will be a Lighthouse Market Place.  Whereby various lighthouses will be sharing information about their specific programs and vendor booths with arts and crafts of lighthouse related memorabilia.

Point Iroquois Lighthouse
The dates of August 3 - 5 were selected by the three lighthouse managers because families with children would not be as restricted by school schedules.  Children and their families are encouraged to learn more about these unique guardians of the shore by attending the Michigan Lighthouse Festival. To enhance the experience for kids and kindle that light within, the festival produced a Kid's Activity Pamphlet.  It will be available at each of the three lighthouses, free. You can download an easy print out at this link too:  Easy Print Out.  It includes lighthouses to color, a cross-word puzzle, a navigate the waters exercise, and hidden words.  Kids are encouraged to get a lighthouse passport stamp from each of the three lighthouses and to ask volunteers at the light station questions while attending the festival tour. 

Free Kid's Activity Pamphlet
As an added bonus, children are encouraged to enter a FREE drawing at the completion of their tour of Crisp Point, Point Iroquois, and Whitefish Point by submitting the top right corner of page 1, at the last lighthouse they visit. Children unable to attend the Festival, may print out an easy print copy, take a picture of their completed project and send it to to be entered in the drawing.  All entries will be combined and a finalist drawn at the festival review meeting held no later than August 12.  The winner will be announced on the Festival's Facebook page and prize sent to the individual drawn.

If you have a chance to attend the 3rd Michigan Lighthouse Festival be sure to include your children, grand children, nieces, nephews, or neighborhood children. Experience the mystery and work of the Lighthouse structures and the lighthouse keepers.  Encourage the youngsters to imagine walking in the footsteps of these fine people, days long gone, and days so different than our own.  Be inspired by the stories and mysteries still unfolding.  Perhaps you too, will be encouraged to add their stories to your own for the benefit of the next generation.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Survey Identifies Plans for a Family of 4, for a 3 Night Stay!

Tahquamenon Lower Falls

In a July 2017 survey of social media, a number of visitors to the Paradise area and residents chimed in with suggestions for a family of four planning a three night stay.  The survey results supported the notion that people like to help other people. Must see recommendations included the Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Whitefish Point.  Must experience favorites included paddling a canoe at the lower falls, an  ATV ride to Crisp Point, rock-hounding at Whitefish Point, the Shipwreck Museum, Oswald's Bear Ranch, Brown's Fish House, and Chainsaw Chad's.  The community of Paradise may be small but the region is filled with many opportunities for a family vacation, so much so, that Mary Kay was prompted to state, "You'll probably need to extend your stay by 2-3 days".

Tahquamenon Lower Falls Image by Suzy Drouse, Pinconning, Michigan

The Tahquamenon Falls State Park provides a vast number of experiences.   Don suggested renting a canoe at the lower falls, paddle the river and visit the island in the river. If you are a healthy hiker, walk the trail between the lower and upper falls. If you hike to the trail and would prefer a ride back, that is available as well. Don also suggested that if you have an inflatable boat or kayak,launch it at the Tahquamenon river mouth and explore the river and bay. 

Whitefish Point Lighthouse, Shipwreck Museum

Whitefish Point is home to the Whitefish Point Light Station, the Shipwreck Museum, Whitefish Point Bird Observatory,  fabulous rock-hounding,  and an incredible view of the largest fresh water lake by surface area in the world, Lake Superior.  Due to its geographic location, Whitefish Point is situated along one of the major North American bird migration routes and houses a warning beacon to up bound and down board lakers as they move from the lake to Whitefish Bay.

Oswald's Bear Ranch

Oswald's Bear Ranch is a family owned bear rescue operation that opens its doors each season, offering people a glimpse of the lifestyles of native black and brown bears.  Housing some 29 bears in some four separate habitats ranging is size of 1/4 - 1/2 mile perimeters.   As one of the top ten family attractions in Upper Michigan, children of all ages enjoy the stop. My husband, 70+ particularly enjoys watching the yearlings play.

Whether you use an ATV or take the drive to Crisp Point, you will find the experience well worth the effort. The Crisp Point Lighthouse sits remotely along the southern shore of Lake Superior.  Having served as a beacon, the Crisp Point Historical Society works to maintain its history and preserve its life saving structure.

Brown's Fish House is a multi-generational family operation that serves the best, freshest Whitefish in Michigan.   You'll find then on the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway (M-123) just west of the blinking light in Paradise.  Plan on lunch or an early dinner, because they do close when they run out of fish. 

Chainsaw Chad's is a unique little studio serving as a shop along the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway (M-123) with incredible sculptures large and small produced by Chad.  Inspired by many north country natural wonders, on a nice day, you might catch Chad and his chainsaw working outside revealing one his masterpieces.  
Hiking the North Country Trail

 Hiking, walking, paddling, the Paradise area is flush with trails as there is so much to see.  Whether you wish to explore the North Country Trail, or hike between the falls, paddle the Tahquamenon, you need to leave the pavement, explore the forests, waterways, and beaches in the region.  Enjoy nature, enjoy your family, and  experience the trip of a life time and develop a life time of memories in Paradise.