Spending a few days or even just a few hours around Manistique and Gulliver might be just the tonic to recover from the dog days of summer.
The warmest of summer days brought on by persistent southern breezes actually has a cooling effect in this neck of the woods, being that these Schoolcraft County communities sit right on the north shore of Lake Michigan.
And the pace of life is just a bit slower with a variety of outdoor venues at the forefront of this area's biggest visitor draws.
A manually operated raft that rides along a cable, shown coming from the left and right, allows visitors to get a close-up view from the middle of Kitch-iti-kipi, or the Big Spring, at Palms Book State Park. (Journal file photo by John Pepin)
"Basically, we have woods to the north and water to the south and rivers in between," said Schoolcraft County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Connie Diller.
Located about 85 or 90 miles south and east of Marquette by state highway, the city of Manistique boasts several attractions.
They include the Manistique Boardwalk and River Walk, a nearly two-mile-long walkway with a fishing pier and picnic grounds along Lake Michigan and the mouth of the Manistique River; and the Manistique East Breakwater Light, a bright-red square tower with black parapet lantern room located at the end of a rock pier that juts into the big lake.
Destination: Manistique and Gulliver
Mileage: Marquette to Manistique, 90
miles; Marquette to Gulliver, 103 miles.
Did you know: The Pine Marten Run
has 26 miles of hiking and horseback
riding trails in the Ironjaw Semiprivate
Area, located near Steuben
Trip Highlight: The Big Spring is the
state's largest naturally fed spring
boasting a depth of more than 40 feet.
For more information: For information
on the area including lodging details,
dining information and a calendar of
events visit www.visitmanistique.com or
"That's one of the main attractions around here," Diller said. "A lot of people like to just come and walk. You can walk along the beach, but there is also the boardwalk which (runs) continuously all the way around the lighthouse."
Also in the city are the Historic Manistique Water Tower, a nearly century old, 137-foot-tall, eight-sided, brick, limestone and cement landmark; the Siphon Bridge, formerly a "floating" bridge who surface had been below the level of the river; and the Kewadin Casino, a full-size gaming facility who might not want to venture far afield outdoors.
Manistique also has several art galleries and wineries, numerous shopping opportunities, and at least a dozen restaurants and lodging facilities.
Events coming up later this month include the Paul Bunyan triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 16, and three automotive-related shows the final weekend of the month - the Kewadin Casino Classic Car Show on Friday, Aug. 29, the Manistique Merchants Association Classic Car Show on Saturday, Aug. 30, and the Schoolcraft County Chamber of Commerce Motorcycle Show on Sunday, Aug. 31.
The city is a gateway to other area attractions, mostly notably at nearby Indian Lake, just a few miles west.
There are three state parks on the west and south shores of the fourth-largest inland lake in the Upper Peninsula - Indian Lake West, Indian Lake South and Palms Book.
The two Indian Lake State Park sites feature more than 200 modern and semi-modern campsites in total with abundant opportunities to hunt, fish, canoe, hike, snowmobile, cross country ski and even pick berries.
Palms Book doesn't have camping, but instead features the state's largest naturally fed spring, 200 feet across and more than 40 feet deep. Roughly 10,000 gallons of water gush forth each minute from underground, but despite that, the water is so clear that looking down from its self-powered observation raft you can easily see all the details on the bottom even at its deepest point.
The historic Bishop Baraga Shrine is along the east side of Indian Lake and has a replica chapel based on one built by local Chippewa Indians in the early 1800s using traditional construction methods and materials like logs and bark.
The Rainey Wildlife Area is located near the north shore of Indian Lake and has a hiking trail, including a boardwalk through wet areas, that leads to outstanding views of wildlife in maple, birch and mixed conifer habitats.
In addition, the eastern edge of one of the units of the Hiawatha National Forest reaches the western edge of Indian Lake and covers areas from Lake Michigan north to Lake Superior.
Venturing a bit further from Manistique is Gulliver, about 15 miles east, and features the Seul Choix - French for "only choice" - Point Light. Built in 1895, the light guided iron ore carriers in that age but is now a community park. The area at one time was a thriving fishing community with the only harbor of refuge on this stretch of Lake Michigan.
The area community hosts the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse Potluck Picnic on Aug. 31.
Heading north from there is the vast Seney National Wildlife Refuge, with its visitor center located about 25 miles north of Gulliver near Germfask on M-77. Established in 1935, the refuge covers more than 95,000 acres. Within it are the Seney Wilderness Area containing the Strangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark.
It harbors many species of plants and animals, such as downy woodpeckers, common loons, sandhill cranes and gray wolves.
For more information, including additional details about the area, lodging and dining opportunities, and a calendar of events, check the online sites www.visitmanistique.com and www.schoolcraftcountychamber.org.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org