The Bergland area of Ontonagon County not only provides prime access to the Upper Peninsula's largest inland lake - Lake Gogebic - but is also a gateway to other prominent features in the area including the Ottawa National Forest and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
In all seasons, the area's No. 1 attraction is Lake Gogebic, with plenty of fishing, boating, swimming, camping, picnicking, hunting, bicycling, trapping and fall color touring available.
Bergland is situated at the north end of Lake Gogebic, while the south end of the lake has Lake Gogebic State Park. Local Native Americans called the massive lake "Akogib."
Visitors enjoy a sunny day at the Lake of the Clouds overlook at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, one of several day trip destinations not far from Bergland. (Journal file photo)
In 1884, the Milwaukee, Lakeshore & Western Railroad brought rail service to the area and opened a hotel resort on the south end of Lake Gogebic. Lake Gogebic State Park was established in 1926 and is situated about eight miles south of Merriweather on the lake's west side.
Lake Gogebic, which has 14,781 surface acres of water, a maximum depth of 37 feet and a shoreline circumference of 34.35 miles is split in half by the Ontonagon-Gogebic counties line, which also is the dividing line for the central (Gogebic County) and eastern (Ontonagon County) time zones.
The state park, which is maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, is set in the middle of the 1 million-acre Ottawa National Forest and has several park amenities available.
There are horseshoe courts, a picnic area with a picnic shelter, a playground and designated swimming beach, with nearly a mile of lake frontage at the park. There are a total of 127 campsites there with modern and semi-modern campgrounds. About 30 of the campsites are directly on the lake, with the rest within 100 yards from the water, situated in a shaded woody area.
A boat launch gives anglers great access to the lake's fishery with perch, walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass available.
From Bergland, there are several places of interest to visit including shops and restaurants in cities not too far away including Ironwood and Ontonagon. The Ottawa Forest has great off-road vehicle riding, camping, boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, stargazing and places to photograph.
The area to the east of Bergland includes great attractions including the Bond Falls Flowage, with its waterfalls, walking trails, boating and fishing. A roadside park along the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River has a paved hiking trail leading to Agate Falls.
In the Ottawa Forest, to the southeast of Bergland is the mysterious Paulding Light, which has transfixed visitors for decades.
Traveling north of Bergland provides access to agate picking along the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline at Silver City, which sits at the doorstep to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, known for its old growth stands of hemlock trees.
There are numerous trails, campsites, scenic vistas, secluded trails, lakes and rivers at this, the largest state park in the Upper Peninsula. The park covers just over 59,000 acres of spectacular beauty in Ontonagon and Gogebic counties.
Perhaps the most famous attraction here is Lake of the Clouds, a signature body of water perched in these hills below the Escarpment Trail, a short distance off M-107. A wooden walkway leads to observation points along the top of the sheer cliff. The 133-acre lake sits below.
Through the lens of a viewing scope, park visitors can see the scaffolding of the Copper Peak ski jump, located 20 miles to the west. Hawks, eagles and other raptors are sometimes visible in flight from the ledges. A new interpretive display allows visitors to hear calls of these birds to aid in their identification.
From the waters of Lake Superior, which form the northern boundary of the park, the main section of mountains were said to resemble a crouching porcupine.
Between 1846 and 1928, 40 mining ventures in the area attempted and failed to produce spectacular riches. Some artifacts from those days may still be found including the Carp Lake Mine, which is an easy to miss abandoned copper mine situated along M-107, now a home to thousands of hibernating little brown bats and northern long-eared bats each autumn.
Around 1916, some logging took place, but the old growth forests here endure. The park has been designated as part of the National Wilderness System. One of the largest old growth forest stands in the Great Lakes region is preserved here.
A display board at Lake Gogebic State Park says the true meaning of "Gogebic" has long been a source of local debate. "So much so, in fact, that in 1884 the editor of the Ontonagon Miner pursued the cause in an editorial. Among the interpretations uncovered for the meaning of the word Gogebic are; 'Green Lake,' 'Little Fish,' 'Place of the Falling Leaves,' 'Porcupine Lake,' 'Bear in the Water' and 'Body of Water Hanging on High.'"
For more information on the area, visit: www.berglandmi.org/Activities.htm.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.