Everyone needs to take more time to play and Schoolcraft County makes it so easy to enjoy family and friends. Located along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, the county stretches north past Indian Lake (the second-largest inland lake in the U.P.), almost to Lake Superior. From misty sunrise to constellation-glimmering night, this is a natural playground for the wave wader to the most avid outdoors enthusiast.
You don’t have to go far from the charming shops of historic downtown Manistique to find the wild side of Schoolcraft County. A nearly 2-mile boardwalk takes you along Lake Michigan with its abundance of shore birds. Your walk will end at the picturesque red Manistique East Breakwater Light and fishing pier where you can cast your line for steelhead and salmon in the spring and fall or watch some of the most stunning sunsets all year. The lighthouse signals the point where the Manistique River flows into Lake Michigan. Enjoy a walk along the beach and have your camera ready. On blustery days, waves leap over the rocks surrounding the lighthouse to create dramatic sprays. You may even catch a porcupine sunning itself on the rocks! Don’t miss the nearby lighthouse keepers dwelling on the corner of Range Street and Washington. The 1916 white stucco building with the red roof is currently a private home and preserved to capture the feel of days gone by.
Visitors seek out the Seul Choix Lighthouse for a number of reasons and its name reflects that. Spooky footsteps, moved silverware and cigar smoke. Strange happenings have been reported by some who believe that the long departed lighthouse keeper continues his work in the complex to this day. The “only choice” lighthouse is a destination for maritime and nature explorers as well. Follow a short trail to the shore and the name will take on a more literal meaning. A massive limestone shoal juts out nearly one hundred yards from shore, covered with glassy shallow water. Sloping down for nearly three miles offshore this is one of the most challenging locations for ships. Spend some time traversing the point and you will learn why sailors considered this spot the “only choice” when it came to safely taking refuge near the Straits of Mackinac, where the lighthouse stands guard. Be sure to spend time at the museum which houses a rare dugout canoe. Enjoy the large picnic areas, complete with barbeque pits.
Step Into Nature’s Canvas
Like all of the U.P., Schoolcraft County has bragging rights to untamed shorelines, verdant forests and inland waterways. But only here can you hike, paddle or drive through the amazing Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Head north from Lake Michigan and explore thousands of acres teeming with wildlife. It’s enthralling to watch otters slide down riverbanks, osprey soar across azure skies, or to spy elusive wolves, minks or beavers.with its wildflowers, loons, black bear, eagles, moose and more. With a staggering 95,455 acres of marsh, field and forest, you can lose yourself in natural surroundings and leave the world behind. Cross-country ski, snowshoe or snowmobile on trail systems from Indian Lake State Park to the Hiawatha National Forest. And while every season uses a palette of colors, fall drenches the landscape in the most brilliant golds and reds imaginable.
Bubbles and Bridges Believe It or Not
One of the Upper Peninsula’s major attractions, Kitch-iti-kipi or “The Big Spring” bubbles up 16,000 gallons of water per minute. A paved path meanders through pines and cedar trees to the shoreline where you see the beautiful emerald green pool. It is told that a young chieftain met his demise trying to prove his love to a maiden.The site has inspired many a legend and once you visit you will surely understand its power to ripen the imagination. A glass bottom observation raft allows you to gaze 45 feet down through the crystal clear waters of this “Mirror to Heaven.” In summer, relax with a picnic in the shaded area near the Palms Book Trading Post. Kitch-iti-kipi maintains a year round water temperature of 45 degrees, so winter visitors can ski, snowshoe or snowmobile into Palms Book State Park during winter to experience silent and glittering seasonal scenery surrounding the bubbling spring.
Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” once featured the county’s amazing “Siphon Bridge,” an engineering marvel, which once crossed the Manistique River below water level. Or visit the Bishop Baraga Shrine and First Church historical marker to learn about the “Snowshoe Priest.” Read a marker that tells about the ill-fated “Christmas Tree Ship” whose last port-of-call was Manistique. Or join the fun at the county’s delightful music, classic car and food festivals.