@hochi666

LAKE GOGEBIC ADVENTURE GUIDE

 

PLAY ON THE U.P.’S LARGEST INLAND LAKE

Lake Gogebic is a massive water playground on the western end of the Upper Peninsula, just minutes from the Wisconsin border. It boasts of being the U.P.’s largest inland lake. Fun-seekers come all four seasons to vacation along its shores and explore its surrounding adventure-packed wilderness. You will return again and again to make more memories.

Fun Facts | Top Things to Do | Popular Attractions | Where to Stay

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE LAKE GOGEBIC AREA

  1. Two pronunciations of Gogebic exist: goh-GHIB-ik or ɡoʊˈɡiːbɪk/

  2. The lake straddles two counties and two time zones. The north half of the lake is in Ontonagon County and the Eastern Time zone. The south half of the lake is in Gogebic County, Marenisco Township and the Central Time zone.

    A fun thing to do on New Year’s Day is to celebrate the start of the year in Bergland Township on the north end of the lake. Then snowmobile across or drive around to Marenisco Township at the south end of the lake. There, an hour later, you can celebrate the start of the New Year again!

  3. Over 80 percent of the lake’s 13,380 surface acres is in the nearly million-acre Ottawa National Forest.

  4. The lake has 36 miles of shoreline, a maximum depth of 38 feet and an average depth of 17.5 feet.

  5. The Bergland Dam, downstream on the Ontonagon River’s West Branch, controls the lake’s water level. 

  6. In 1962, two gravesite stones were discovered about 100 feet from the lake’s edge in Lake Gogebic State Park. “1822 JOHN KEY” is chiseled on one stone and “1824 WHITH” on the other. Historians believe Key arrived on Mackinac Island in 1780 and that he and Whith were fur traders. View the stones when you visit. 

TOP THINGS TO DO AROUND LAKE GOGEBIC

REEL IN FISH

Anglers from far and wide know that this is one of Michigan’s best fishing lakes. Spring and summer are the top times to wet lines in Lake Gogebic. That’s when walleye, perch, smallmouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass and northern pike bite. Fishing contests throughout the two seasons add to the fun of catching the biggest ones. 

But don’t pass up ice fishing on Lake Gogebic. When the water hardens, ice anglers reel in some of the tastiest walleye and perch. 

Fish for free in Michigan on a weekend in February and June. Both weekends are great for hooking you on this sport or for introducing it to your kids or friends. Check with the local bait shops and fishing guides for insider tips on fishing in the area.

GO SWIMMING

Lake Gogebic State Park and Lake Gogebic County Park offer some of the most tranquil beaches in the U.P. Swim and play in the sand for hours in the summer. Or, all-year walk the state park’s mile-long shoreline from early morning until starry night.

GET ON THE WATER

When you can boast of being the biggest lake in the U.P., you also have bragging rights for more water fun. This is a popular place to water ski, wakeboard and go tubing in the summer or paddling from spring through fall.

There are many places to launch your boat on the lake for fishing, speedboating, pontooning, or using personal watercraft. You can put in your kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard along the shore.  No watercraft or water toys? You can still have fun. Many of the lake’s resorts, vacation rentals and shops rent everything from pontoons to kayaks to tubes and water pads. Or rent kayaks and canoes at the state park during the warmer months. Make reservations at the park office.

HIKE SCENIC WILDERNESS TRAILS

The state park has a trailhead to the Lake Gogebic Forest Trail, a 2-mile pathway through the Western U.P.’s backcountry. This is a top choice for bird spotting and photographing ferns and fungi. 

The Ottawa National Forest has 196 miles of trails crisscrossing this must-explore U.P. wilderness. Choose from short day hikes for wildlife viewing or longer backpacking treks to waterfalls, historic places and scenic sites. 

MOUNTAIN BIKE TO NEW HEIGHTS

Copper Peak is a fantastic destination for cross-country mountain biking enthusiasts. Whether you are a beginner or a challenge-seeking experienced rider, this trail system has something for everyone.

The ride starts at the base of the ski jump landing hill and descends to the Black River. Then, get ready for an exciting climb up a steep slope to the ski jump. Followed by a thrilling ride back down to the bottom of the hill. The views, like the ride, are breathtaking.

FIND OFF-ROADING THRILLS

The Ottawa National Forest is an off-roader's dream wilderness. It has over 2,300 miles of Forest Service roads and trails open to off-highway vehicles — ORVs and ATVs. Get a free Motor Vehicle Use Map to see what routes are open and rev those engines!

 HUNT FOR TREASURE

The state park has a special area where you may use a metal detector. Hunt for coins, jewelry and other metallic treasures. Park staff will review your findings before you take them from the park. This activity is open to registered campers only.

EXPLORE BIG SNOW COUNTRY

Lake Gogebic is world-renowned for its 150 miles of snowmobiling trails. Sledders repeatedly vote Gogebic County and Ontonagon County among the best areas in the U.S. to ride their machines. 

Record snowfalls (an average of 17 feet annually) bring outdoor enthusiasts to our pristine, winter landscapes. Near Lake Gogebic are some of the Midwest’s top downhill skiing and snowboarding hills and resorts. They offer experiences for beginners to black-diamond extremists. Because the ski season is so long, you can plan multiple visits, with runs open as late as mid-April!

The long snow season matches well with cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The Ottawa National Forest has almost 39 miles of skiable cross-country trails. Snowshoers can go just about anywhere in the national forest. For an easy hike, walk the state park's mile-long beach. To get more exercise, snowshoe the untamed Black River, which is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Or for a high-powered cardio workout, tackle the hilly terrain in Trap Hills near Bergland. 

You will love the adrenaline rush of fat tire biking at the Porkies Winter Sports Complex. If you are an experienced rider, traverse 17 miles of groomed trails to test your grit and stamina. 

Or experience the mountain in a whole new way. Bring your non-motorized ski bike or rent one from the Complex — then rip through the powder! 

TAKE DAY TRIPS TO POPULAR ATTRACTIONS

The Lake Gogebic area is a perfect base camp for taking day jaunts to these attractions.

PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS STATE PARK | ONTONAGON  

Michigan’s largest state park is only 30 minutes from Lake Gogebic. It packs four seasons with hiking, mountain biking, waterfalling, Lake Superior beach time and copper mining historic sites. See for miles from the Copper Peak Ski Jump and Lake of the Clouds overlooks. In the autumn, follow some of the United States’ best fall color tour routes. Then, return in winter for the winter sports fun listed above. 

BLACK RIVER NATIONAL FOREST SCENIC BYWAY | BESSEMER

This scenic river drive lets you stop and hike to five of the U.P.’s most beautiful waterfalls. Visit the Great Conglomerate Falls, Potawatomi, Gorge, Sandstone, and Rainbow Falls. Go to the end of the byway and take in the incredible beauty of Lake Superior at Black River Harbor. Walk across the suspension bridge to the beach where you can collect rocks, swim and watch the sunset and stars fill the sky. You will be back at Lake Gogebic in less than an hour. 

OLD VICTORIA COPPER MINE | US 45, ROCKLAND

This is one of the most exciting restoration projects in the U.P. In 1849, miners began pouring into the region, setting up camps such as Victoria almost overnight. They came to find their fortunes extracting silver and copper from the surrounding hills. 

Old Victoria is near where the famous Ontonagon Boulder (now in the possession of the Smithsonian Institute) was found. Open to the public, visitors can see the log homes and touch the 1800s artifacts on display. 

You can also search through a mountainous rock heap for pieces of copper to bring home. Walk across the battlefield where the Sioux and Ojibway fought, and climb Mt. Lookout to see the highest hydroelectric dam in the Midwest. It takes less than 45 minutes to reach the site from Lake Gogebic.

BOND FALLS SCENIC SITE | BRUCE CROSSING

It takes about 30 minutes to get from Lake Gogebic to Bond Falls. See one of the most stunning, frequently photographed waterfalls in the U.P. It spans 100 feet wide with a total 50-foot drop. The observation deck and boardwalk are accessible by wheelchair and mobility devices. Hear the water roar, spring through fall — and whisper when frozen in winter.

COPPER PEAK SKI JUMP | IRONWOOD

For the adventure and view of a lifetime, take the 40-minute drive from Lake Gogebic to Copper Peak Ski Jump. The thrill begins with an 800-foot chairlift ride to the crest of the hill — a 360-foot copper-bearing volcanic outcrop. 

Next, ride an elevator up 18 stories to the observation deck. If you are truly fearless, walk an additional eight stories to the top of the ski jump’s starting gate. Your reward on a clear day is the most incredible vista in the Midwest! Gaze out over 2,500 square miles, seeing three states and Canada.

WHERE TO STAY

HOTELS AND RESORTS

Want to spend time at Lake Gogebic, but prefer the overnight amenities and comforts of a hotel or resort? Book your stay at lodgings around Lake Gogebic. There are choices near hiking and snowmobile trails and close to restaurants and gas stations. You and your traveling companions will feel welcome the moment you step through their doors. 

ONSITE CAMPING, LAKE GOGEBIC STATE PARK

This state park stands out from other campgrounds in the Upper Peninsula. Nearly a quarter of its 127 campsites are directly on the lakefront!

The other sites are among the trees, not more than 100 yards from the lake. Three of the sites are pull-through. Campers enjoy two toilet/shower buildings and leashed pets are welcome. Make camping reservations up to six months ahead.