Spectacular views: L’Anse, Baraga has plenty to offer visitors
L’ANSE — Nestled in the crook of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula sit the neighboring villages of L’Anse and Baraga, which border Lake Superior at the southern tip of Keweenaw Bay. Although quite small (both towns combined have a population of just over 4,000), these waterfront towns have no shortage of fun for friends and family during the warmer months of the year.
L’Anse’s Waterfront Park is a main attraction for water lovers and music fans alike, offering a swimming beach complete with a warm water splash pad, children’s playground, picnic area and a pavilion that serves as a venue for concerts in the summertime.
Every Thursday night starting June 15 through Sept. 7, the Waterfront park will feature concerts. Each week is the chance to hear new sounds and culture of music: Cajun, bluegrass, jazz, blues, Caribbean. If the weather is bad, events will be moved to Meadowbrook Arena.
Farmers markets in L’Anse and Baraga offer locals an outlet for selling fresh homegrown produce to visitors and the community. June 21 through Sept. 30, Baraga’s Farmers Market is open Wednesdays 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Baraga County Historical Museum, while L’Anse has one every Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Waterfront Pavillion.
For those looking to enjoy a weekend festival or two, these villages have you covered.
First up this summer is the annual Lake Trout Festival, located at L’Anse’s Waterfront Park on June 10.
“[It’s] a big item in Baraga County,” said Debbie Stouffer, Baraga County Chamber of Commerce board director. “Over 100 to 120 plus boats participate in a fishing tournament, and there’s food and vendors and a bounce house and all kinds of activities.”
The two big cultural events to look forward to in July are the Aura Jamboree and the KBIC Pow Wow.
“The Pow Wow and Jamboree are both kind of unique events,” Stouffer said, adding that they come from special cultural roots. “The Jamboree comes out of the old tongue Finnish music, but it of course has expanded out to all kinds of music. It’s just an opportunity for people to come and play. You can sit down anywhere on the grounds and play with anybody.”
Acoustic music can be played and heard outside of the hall, while a performances and dancing can be found inside the hall. The Jamboree is June 14-15 at the Aura Community Hall in Aura.
From July 21-23, Baraga’s Ojibwa Campground will be hosting the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Pow Wow, and attendance by the general public looking to understand the culture of the tribe is encouraged.
“Baraga County’s roots are from many different cultures and ethnic origins,” says Stouffer. “We as a community look to celebrate this diversity through events like our weekly concerts, the Pow Wow, and the Aura Jamboree.”
The event Stouffer most looks forward to comes just as the leaves are beginning to turn and summer is ending: the Baraga County Beerfest. Held at the Waterfront Park in L’Anse, “it’s a beautiful venue,” Stouffer said. “We’re right on the lake. It’s an opportunity to sample different beers, listen to music, eat food, socialize, and just enjoy what L’anse has to offer.”
If you can’t make it to these big events scheduled for the summer, the area has plenty of natural beauty to spare for visitors any day of the year.
About 8 miles south of L’Anse is Canyon Falls and Gorge, which has been making a name for itself online in the past year for being “Michigan’s Grand Canyon.” It’s one of Michigan’s largest box canyons, Stouffer said, and a must see for anyone interested in exploring Upper Michigan’s natural beauty.
Baraga County is also home to the Lake & Country Tour, a 52-mile scenic roadway that explores the history and lovely Lake Superior views of L’Anse and Arvon Township. “It’s open for bicycling, motorcycling — most vehicles,” Stouffer said. “It’s an opportunity to see some of the sights, some of the historic places. It meanders along the Lake Superior Shore and runs right close by Mount Arvon. It’s an opportunity to spend a day exploring the beauty that we have to offer.”
For hikers, Baraga County offers the Huron Mountains, which have a plethora of trails, including segments of the North Country Trail, America’s longest scenic trail. The peak of Mount Arvon, Michigan’s highest point, is accessible by trail or by car, although it is advised to stop at the Tourist Office for detailed driving directions.
Whether it be cultural festivals or hiking trails, L’Anse and Baraga give visitors the chance to move away from the beaten path.