Are you looking for a getaway with golden sand beaches accompanied by clear waters? What if I told you that along with this shoreline, which also plays home to beautiful cliffs, inland water drops into lush green valleys? Thinking of a tropical paradise? Think north, about as north as you can get on the United States mainland, I’m talking of a small isolated town in Upper Michigan known as Munising.
Munising is resting at the foot of giant hills and the southern shore of Lake Superior, a small, practical town with simplistic streets and buildings. Around this quiet little village are natural splendors unique to the area, as ancient sandstone provides some refreshing scenery.
If you live in the eastern portion of Wisconsin, the drive to Munising exhibits landscape that can rival that of its destination. As I drive through towns such as Marinette and Escanaba, the highways adhere to the lake Michigan shoreline, allowing a great vantage of Door County from across Green Bay, and other attractive views as you travel northward.
On the final leg of my drive, as I journey inland, venturing from Lake Michigan towards Lake Superior, I spot a few ravens and a Bald Eagle in the fluffy cloud blotted sky. The trek here is among dense woodlands and very few inhabitants.
After driving three hours, I’m in Munising.
My first destination is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, named for the mineral colorings as water seeps from the sandstone cliffs along lake superior, leaving a beautiful array of hues along the rock face. Yet, today I’m not headed for the sandstone cliffs. Instead, I want to Kayak along a beach of South Bay.
The water in South Bay is clear and peaceful, gently lapping the sandy banks. I put in along the beach and follow it, taking in the sandstone cliffs and scenic shoreline of this pristine locale. Large driftwood has found its way on the sand and adds some authenticity to a wilderness at the edge of the United states border.
After about an hour of casually paddling a bay of Lake Superior, I return to shore. I explore an old Coast Guard boathouse and walk across the fine sand, feeling the soft grains cushion my bare feet. Today, the weather is perfect as the sun is shining among the clouds, the temperature hovering around 65 degrees on an early fall day.
After the short little exploration, I throw the kayak back into my car and leave the beach behind. What I find next makes the shoreline seem mundane, as I discover a little parking lot titled ‘Munising Falls’
The Munising Area, with a population of 2,247 people in town, is home to at least 18 waterfalls, a huge attraction for tourists. I hadn’t been looking for any of these natural attractions just yet. However, the sign and the allure of free-falling water, something I haven’t seen since my childhood, begs my attention.
I drive into a paved parking lot and find many seniors armed with cameras equipped with telescopic lenses, starting across a well maintained wood footbridge into a forested valley. I eagerly follow the crowd, wondering what I may find.
I am enchanted by the surroundings as, although I see no signs of cascading water as of yet, the deep valley envelopes me. I gaze upon the small river, watching the water dance under, over and around large rocks and fallen timbers. Beside me, on the valley walls, trees stretch from a moss-covered slope.
As I regard the valley the epitome of picturesque, the 50 foot waterfall that awaits me has it beat. Plummeting from a rim of sandstone, the stream free falls into a serpentine path down rocks to the floor of the valley.
Before me, a half ellipse of sandstone encompasses a platform for viewing the towering falls. This sandstone is somewhere between 500-800 million years old. These are natural features foreign to my Northeast Wisconsin accustomed eyes.
After getting lost in the scenery, I return to my car. I stop in town to pick up a drink and am off to see the next waterfall, being aided with the GPS feature on my phone. My hunt is for Wagner falls, however, before I arrive at the new site, I accidentally come across a smaller waterfall known as Alger Falls, right off the side of the highway.
I take a few pictures at the less than breath-taking sight and move on. I said there were eighteen falls, I figure a glimpse of three will suffice for a decent piece of writing. I think my choices were outstanding as I reach the gravel parking lot and follow the stony surface stretching to a wood platform.
The river water tumbling down the layered rock ledges at Wagner Falls is more voluminous compared to Munising Falls. It might not be as steep as Munising falls but the sight is more majestic, seeming to proclaim off the beaten path wilderness elegance. The valley isn’t as steep as Munising either, but the hike along the gravel is still pleasant.
I figure the time and effort it took to aid the average tourist to see the falls was great. From paved or gravel walks to wood bridges and platforms, all accommodating sightseers, hard work allows these great falls to be easily accessible.
I will come back to this spot known as Munising, particularly to kayak along the pictured rocks cliffs. I can imagine the caves and hues along the rock faces, as I enjoyed the sight of the cliffs from a distance this time around. There is a state campground near the lakeshore making this the ultimate summer getaway. As the fall colors are soon approaching, I highly recommend the drive and scenery for any adventurous soul in the Northeast Wisconsin area. The only cost would be the money for gas.