Everyone traveling to the Upper Peninsula has heard of Marquette, Pictured Rocks, and Drummond Island.
Those places are full of stunning scenery, tranquil moments, and family-friendly adventures. Still, there are an incredible amount of places in the Upper Peninsula that remain relatively untouched.
One of these places is the Les Cheneaux Islands, located about 30 minutes east of the Mackinac Bridge. This small archipelago of 36 islands off the coast of Hessel and Cedarville is filled with endless opportunities to explore and enjoy one of the most incredible hidden gems of the Great Lakes.
From hiking to watersports and local brews, the Les Cheneaux Islands area is the ideal place to relax and adventure while avoiding summer crowds. Here is your complete weekend guide to staying and playing along the islands on the shores of Lake Huron.
The Les Cheneaux Islands are known for their lakeside resorts spread across numerous islands and shorelines. Up here, the classic ‘Up North cabin’ feel remains strong. There is only one hotel, with the rest of the accommodations comprising lakeside lodges and quaint cabin retreats.
Hills Point Resort
Located on Hill Island, one of the only islands accessible by car, Hills Point Resort offers quaint cabins directly on the water. The resort includes a beach, bonfire pits, kitchenettes, and more. Although rustic and minimalistic, it is everything one dreams of when picturing an Upper Peninsula retreat.
Spring Lodge & Cottages
Located on the mainland a short drive from Downtown Cedarville, Springs Lodge and Cottages is the perfect place for both a weekend and a week-long stay. The lodge offers a large beach, kayaks, and other water toys for guests to enjoy, beach chairs, firepits, grills, and more.
Although small, Cedarville and Hessel offer some delicious local food, great brews, and ethically sourced coffee. There is something for everyone to eat and enjoy while visiting these quaint coastal towns.
Les Cheneaux Coffee Roasters
Even if you aren’t a fan of tea or coffee, the Les Cheneaux Coffee Roasters offer daily made-from-scratch pastries and other breakfast favorites. The large wrap-around deck is perfect for enjoying a morning latte with baked goods in downtown Cedarville.
Les Cheneaux Distillery and Brewery
With a tagline of ‘Distillers who brew,’ you can’t go wrong at the Les Cheneaux Distillery and Brewery! The location also offers food options, such as burgers, nachos, and appetizers. If you try a beer, the Red Headed Step Child is an excellent option for those looking to try a delicious and unique brew.
A longtime favorite local bar and restaurant, Cattails offers delicious no-frills meals all year round. The extensive menu offers everything from whitefish to spicy chicken salads and Reubens. Perhaps the best part of this spot is the location, with a large patio located on the harbor directly behind Cedarville Marina.
North Coast Coffee & Ice Cream
Located in Hessel, just a short five-minute drive from Cedarville, North Coast Coffee is a hidden gem. The unique and delicious shop serves coffee, fudge, and ice cream from within EJ Mertaugh Boat Works. If you aren’t paying attention, you just might drive by it!
Life in the Les Cheneaux Islands is all about enjoying the great outdoors! Whether opting for reading a book on the beach, viewing stunning boat houses by water, or exploring local trails, there is no wrong way to spend your time.
Les Cheneaux Islands Channels
This is the Les Cheneaux Islands, after all! The most popular activity in the area includes the rare opportunity to boat on the Great Lakes with the protection of the islands, creating calm inland waters. Whether you bring your boat or rent one during your visit, getting out to enjoy the area is a must. If you prefer paddleboarding or kayaking, locations such as Search Bay offer some of the calmest and clearest waters on the Great Lakes.
Part of Hiawatha National Forest, Government Island is the only publicly accessible island in the Les Cheneaux archipelago. The remote location offers overnight camping along the shores of Lake Huron, numerous hiking trails, and scenic coves to anchor and enjoy the day. The island is uninhabited and follows Leave No Trace policies, so if you visit or camp, respect the surroundings so it remains accessible for future generations!
This flat, family-friendly trail a few miles east of Cedarville is a local favorite. There are numerous ways to access Narnia, but the easiest is to park at Bush Bay Scenic Overlook and follow the red and orange arrows through the woods for roughly a mile. The trail winds around the shoreline of Lake Huron, passing ruins of historic cabins along the way. You know you’ve reached Narnia when you see the lamppost sitting in the middle of the woods!
When it comes to spending a weekend in the Les Cheneaux Islands, there are no wrong choices. There is something for all here; whether looking for an adventurous weekend backpacking trip on Government Island or a relaxing family beach vacation with lots of s’mores, fun will be had by all.
The best part? It’s one of the closest Upper Peninsula getaways. Just 30-minutes from the bridge, the Les Cheneaux Islands are the ideal retreat for those looking for U.P seclusion without extra driving time or mileage. Pack the car, set the tunes, and head across the bridge to experience this one-of-a-kind Great Lakes paradise.