4 - Wheeling the Upper Peninsula Michigan
Updated June 9, 2014
On my constant quest to find good places to go off roading in the midwest I was invited to go riding with some great local residents of the city of Calumet MI. Calumet is about an 8 hour drive from the Northern suburbs of Chicago. While we were there we stayed at the AmericInn in Calumet .
The area is considered the 'North Woods'. Starting in Wisconsin and heading up to Michigan is all solid forest land. The UP area projects out into Lake Superior. The Keweenaw (KEE-wah-nah) Peninsula features lakes, rivers, hills, and some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. From Calumet to the end is mostly owned by Champion Paper Company and is actively logged. The paper company has allowed public access to the land in order to obtain tax breaks and limited liability. This pretty much opens up the whole peninsula to snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, ATV's and off roading. The paper company has started to sell off parcels of the prime lake front property but most of the area is still open.
Because this area is out of the way due to it's not being on the way to anywhere it has been the exclusive playground of the local residents and college students from Houghton for many years. Evidently the school at Houghton, Michigan Tech is one of the best engineering schools in the country. Houghton is about 20 miles South of Calumet. The school was started many years ago by the mining companies that proliferated in the area. Houghton is a good size college town where you can go for entertainment / restaurants and larger city services. If you do plan a trip make sure that it's not on the same weekend as an event such as family day (Columbus day) for the school or you might not find a place to stay.
In it's heyday, Calumet had 80,000 residents and many copper mines. The ore was shipped out on ships and barges via the great lakes. As you drive around the area you will see many old foundations left over from the mining period. There is a mine tour you can take located between Houghton and Calumet. Some of the little towns have craft fairs and shops. In the fall the changing colors of the trees is a big draw.
The area in the circle is wide open. Calumet is at the bottom left of the circle.