Hike #1 - Bareback/Wetmore/Little Presque/Wetmore
From the Wetmore parking area, I hiked up the Beagle Road Trail, which led to the Who Cooks For you Trail, and eventually up to Bareback Mountain. It was a bit rugged but, as usual, the views were worth the hard work.
The hike down was very enjoyable with beautiful vistas of the lake and countryside, and it was easier than going up. The fact people mountain bike a trail like this is incredible, very risky on some sections. The three bikers that passed me sure were having fun.
The Harlow Lake area is a wintering ground for White-tailed Deer from the surrounding area. Herds travel from up to 25 miles away to seek food and protection in the conifer forests, Hemlocks, and Cedars.
At the highest point the trail reaches an altitude of 880 ft, the steepest grade was 22%, and the trail was VERY rocky going up and down.
White Pine forest
After exiting the lake area the trail leads back into a managed DNR forest composed mostly of White and Red Pine trees. These horseback riders were out for their annual 4-hour ride into through the forest and along the Lake Superior shoreline. We would meet again later. This was the first part of the hike where I encountered some birds. First, I heard a familiar sound, Pine Warblers. Goes to show, get in the right habitat - find the expected species. They were joined by a small mixed flock of Black-capped Chickadees, Black-throated-blue Warblers, and Red-breasted Nuthatches.
Lake Superior shoreline
After hiking through the pine forest for about a mile, the trail crosses the highway and heads north toward Lake Superior. I spotted a few more species of birds in the marshy area along the road. An Eastern Phoebe, American Redstarts and a small flock of American Robins were feeding in the trees.
The next mile, walking along the shoreline, was very peaceful - no rocks, no roots, no bugs.
Just when the hike was getting a little warm and buggy, this happened. Feel the cool breeze in your face.
Little Presque Isle
Sheree', Izzy and I have hiked some of the trails around Little Presque, in particular, the Birding Trail. Feeling a little tired, I opted to skip that section, and shortcut across the peninsula, moving on down the North Country Trail, which I had been on since Hwy 550. I arrived on the south side of Little Presque recreation area and began the last leg of my journey, again along the shoreline of Lake Superior. This section reminded me of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, with it's carved out sandstone cliffs, colorful rocks and overhanging trees.
To be honest, I was a hurting "old" guy entering Wetmore. Nine miles was about 3 miles over my threshold, but I really enjoyed the hike nevertheless. Being tired, I did only casually noticed a number of very cool beaches along the way, and it was obvious others knew they existed. To visit Wetmore or any other DNR property you must purchase a "Passport", but you already know that is you are a yooper.
Besides having a great time hiking the nine miles, I located a number of new hangouts for future visits.
Go beach! I was wondering why so many people park at Wetmore each day I drove to work to Echo Lake. Such a nice spot, and more interesting places to the west.
Hike #2 - Laughing Whitefish Nature Preserve
True Northern Forest
How wonderful a place is this? Of all the places I have been near Marquette, this has the wildest, most natural setting of them all. It has that real Northwoods feeling.
The Nature Conservancy at work
As you walk along the shaded trails of the preserve, you will be following in the footsteps of renowned wildlife photographer George Shiras III who invented the method for nighttime photography on this land. Laughing Whitefish Lake became famous when George’s pictures won prizes at the 1900 World Exposition in Paris and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, and in 1906 National Geographic Magazine devoted an issue to his photos.
Situated between Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Area and Hiawatha National Forest, the 1,728-acre preserve lies along Laughing Whitefish Lake and River, six miles south of where the river empties at Lake Superior. The preserve includes three-quarters of the lake as well as over 1,000 acres of surrounding wetlands and upland forest.
Abundant wildlife including Bald eagles and loons, along with black bear, river otter, beaver, leopard frog and a host of warblers, thrushes and woodpeckers frequent the area. The varied habitats here—marsh and swamp, hardwood and beech-maple forests—all work in unison to support these creatures.