Michigan's Upper Peninsula (north of Wisconsin)
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  1. #1
    Senior Member mudpuppy's Avatar
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    My wife and I recently towed our TWs 430 miles north of our Illinois home, to the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan. We stayed first at the Lake Gogebic Resort, a fishing camp located in Bergland, MI, along Lake Gogebic (Michigan's largest inland lake). We explored that area, including the nearby and (approx) 12 mile long Pioneer atv trail, and some logging roads in the Ottawa National Forest. A Michigan Off Highway Vehicle sticker is required for the trail. If you love to fish, then this could also be heaven for you. There are many fishing resorts in the area, and guide service or rental boats are available. Bergland is very small, but we found its location useful to explore the towns and sights along the western edge of the U.P., including the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park. This area is much more populated than some of the more northern areas, and tourism is a major industry, with fishing and snowmobiling drawing large numbers of people from nearby Wisconsin. Logging activities also occur in the Ottawa National Forest, and we spent time exploring some of the logging roads. These roads seemed more developed than those we found near L'Anse, MI, with many having a fine stone surface. The Pioneer atv trail is part of Michigan's TRALE system. It showed on my Garmin street map as an unnamed road, and most likely was an abandoned logging road which is now maintained to a width of 50" as an atv trail. We only went on it a few miles because it was hilly, with lots of muddy areas in its dirt surface when the trail was in the valleys. I was having fun, but my inexperienced off-roader wife was finding it too challenging (and I was tiring out riding her TW through the nasty stuff-- or I should say walking back to her bike was wearing me out!). We saw a couple four- wheeled ATVs on the trail, and the muddy areas were rutted by ATV tires.



    After a few days we moved NE about 1 1/2 hours and used the Hilltop Motel on the southern edge of L'Anse, MI as our base of exploration http://www.superiors...m/hilltopmotel/. This area was probably the highlight of our trip. L'Anse is a small town located at the southern tip of Lake Superior's Keweenaw Bay. In the photo of a map, the Keweenaw Peninsula is shaped kind of like a hitchhiker's thumb jutting out into Lake Superior. The small town of Copper Harbor is located at the tip of the thumb, Hancock is mid-way down the length of the thumb, L'Anse is at the right side base of the thumb, and the Bergland / Watersmeet areas are near the Wisconsin border and along a line down the center of the thumb from tip to Wisconsin border.



    The owner of the motel, Mike, was a great guy, and a great help, as he personally enjoys hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and ATV riding---- which are the major activities in this rugged logging area. He provided us with directions, a snowmobile map, and he told us that almost the entire area between L'Anse and Marquette, MI (45 miles to the east) is a logging area with no county maintained roads.



    The logging companies make new roads as needed, and others go dormant except for use by the few people who live in that area and the hunters/atv users/snowmobilers/etc... The logging roads here are usually not paved with anything--- just bulldozed into the rocky/sandy/dirt soil. The snowmobile maps show 'roads', but from our experience there the 'roads' are not marked, the ones on my gps (street and topo map) frequently no longer existed, and both newer and older 'roads' are everywhere--- as dictated by the needs of the logging companies who own the land. I never saw a no-trespassing sign except for a couple of times at the rare private drive to a home. You can ride for hours without seeing another person.



    If you ride alone, you could easily go down some overgrown, old logging road, get hurt, and then die out there. There was no cell phone reception, and depending on the 'road', it would be just good fortune if someone happened upon you. The motel owner frequently hunts alone in the area and has come face to face with black bears (he said the bears would hear our cycles coming and leave the area, so we shouldn't worry). He told us he almost died in there a few years ago while snowmobiling/hunting in the winter. He stopped his lightweight, older sled in an area he thought he was familiar with, but didn't see the 10-12 ft tall trees he remembered from the area. As he got off, he started to fall straight down--turns out he was on top of snow deeper than the height of the trees. These parts of Michigan get huge lake-effect snowfalls over the course of a winter, with the Keweenaw county area about 45 miles to the north getting an average of over 20 ft per year, and a record of over 30 ft in one winter. Snowmobiling is popular, and a tourist draw. Mike didn't seem as concerned as I was about dying in the wilderness---- but I am a little paranoid about things.



    I made a point of not totally relying on the gps' 'track' feature in order to backtrack my way back to the main 'road'. Instead, I just decided to head into an area and make only right turns if the road/trail forked. That way I could find my way out by backtracking and only making left turns. I also made a point of leaving tire tracks whenever possible in the road's damp sand / dirt surface to serve as a visual reminder of where I'd been. We spent hours putt-ing around these old logging roads, and probably never got more than about 10 miles from the motel (the paved road ended about 7 miles east of the motel).



    Although the topo map in my GPS wasn't up-to-date on the 'roads', it was useful to help me find pretty streams and other terrain features. I saw many challenging areas while riding, but then chose to turn around and try a different road ---- both because of my old body and my wife's inexperience in off-roading. I had visions of me or her getting hurt and the other having to ride out to reach help. If you do want to hardcore play in the mud, cross creeks, drive over and around fallen trees, etc...., you will definitely find plenty to hold your interest. This area was perfect for us because roads which fit any experience level are all easily accessible within about 7 miles of the motel --- just head off of a 'main' logging road onto any old road / path, and ride until you encounter something you don't want to deal with. I only saw two logging trucks/people in the hours we spent there, and both were on a main logging road. We saw plenty of bear poop, so be careful if you are wandering around quietly on foot---- I don't know how aggressive they are usually, and I wouldn't want to find out. The motel owner has had a few scares and respects them, so that is good enough for me.



    The U.P. is wonderful country, with the beauty of Lake Superior, and terrain ranging from boggy marsh, to sandy pine forests, to rocky hills and waterfalls. We had a great time, although during our (2nd week of September) trip, the night-time lows reached as low as 38 degrees (F) , and daytime highs ranged from mid 50's to mid 60's. The weather can be quick to change, with cold fronts dropping down out of nearby Canada. On a previous trip to the U.P. years ago, locals told us that early to mid August is a good time to visit, as the mosquitoes and black flies are less thick than earlier in the spring/summer, and the temps are more reliably in the upper 70's to mid 80's. The leaves were changing color during our visit, and we were told that by the end of September the leaves are frequently in full color. It doesn't hurt to have advance motel reservations, because the L'Anse area's population and numbers of motels are pretty low --- the few motels can fill up fast.



    The Keweenaw Peninsula area was a very large copper mining area in the 1800s to early 1900s, with many large underground mines. Remnants of these mines still exist, with the town of Hancock having a museum, at the Quincy Mining Company location, which features the Nordberg Steam Hoist: the world's largest steam-powered hoist engine. Completed in 1920, this hoist made it possible for the Quincy Mining Company to extend its No. 2 Shaft 92 levels underground, an inclined distance of nearly two miles. http://quincymine.co...&id=4&chapter=4 Other mines are also tourist attractions: we saw an advertisement for one in which you can repel 80 foot down to some lower levels (if only I was younger and lighter!). If you like to rock-hound, the mine tailings and areas such as Agate Beach (along Lake Superior's west shore) can also be an interesting way to spend some time. Late summer is also a fine time to swim and catch some sun on Lake Superiors sand beaches. If your significant other enjoys shopping or antiques, the town of Calumet has plenty of shops in it's Victorian era, stone-building, downtown area. The state university campus in Hancock, which started out as a mining college, has cultural events, concerts, etc.....



    And some pics of the first portion of the trip (hit the max, so I'll post more in a reply to this topic):







    BERGLAND AREA:





    Trailhead of the Pioneer atv trail about a mile north of Bergland:





    Me slip-sliding away through the mud













    My wife's relief that I won't subject her to any more of this muddy atv trail!





    BOND FALLS SCENIC PARK (13 miles west of Watersmeet, MI):









    Lake Superior shore near Porcupine Mtn park entrance:

    two 2009 TWs, Ricochet skidplates, Moose Racing 'Expedition' rack (like a Borrega), DID 428V O-ring chains, DMoto2 -style black steel footpegs from eBay

  2. #2
    Senior Member mudpuppy's Avatar
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    Pics from the L'Anse area and the last two are from further north in the Keweenaw Peninsula area---near Copper Harbor:





    river at Big Erik Bridge and campground, about 25 miles east of L'Anse





    Falls River near downtown L'anse

























    Photo-op at a stream where the logging company had dug up the culvert/road but ATVs still cross





    SW of Copper Harbor:





    two 2009 TWs, Ricochet skidplates, Moose Racing 'Expedition' rack (like a Borrega), DID 428V O-ring chains, DMoto2 -style black steel footpegs from eBay

  3. #3
    Senior Member busyweb's Avatar
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    Wow, great photos and story.



    Thanks for the sharing.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Gerry's Avatar
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    Great pictures and text, I got a chuckle or two. Tell you what, if you can take your Wife out there, you have a GREAT WIFE...... Thanks for the report. I will show it to my 'Wife'.



    A can of Surveyors paint can help alot in these kinds of situations. It is designed to spray upside down and is said to fade-out in a couple of weeks. My Ace hardware store has this in stock. I have found 'imprinting' tire tracks can sometimes be a 'mixed bag' given the soil texture and motorcycle traffic. Gerry







    Take care my Friend.........

  6. #5
    Junior Member Crusty's Avatar
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    Great pics and write-up. Made me want to get off my butt and take a ride. You were riding in my back yard. My last trip in that neck of the woods was on snowmobile last February just before the snow disappeared for the season. Not being critical, but L'anse is spelled with an s just in case someone's trying to find it on a map. I'm sure you enjoyed the cinnamon buns at the Hill Top restaurant.

  7. #6
    Senior Member mudpuppy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crusty View Post
    Great pics and write-up. Made me want to get off my butt and take a ride. You were riding in my back yard. My last trip in that neck of the woods was on snowmobile last February just before the snow disappeared for the season. Not being critical, but L'anse is spelled with an s just in case someone's trying to find it on a map. I'm sure you enjoyed the cinnamon buns at the Hill Top restaurant.


    Thanks for the spell-check----- I'll edit things a bit. The Hilltop restaurant definitely had tasty treats, and we really enjoyed your area.



    Corey
    two 2009 TWs, Ricochet skidplates, Moose Racing 'Expedition' rack (like a Borrega), DID 428V O-ring chains, DMoto2 -style black steel footpegs from eBay

  8. #7
    Senior Member admiral's Avatar
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    That looked like one heck of an adventure to be sure. Your narrative was wonderful followed up by some of the best pictures I've seen. By looking at some of your photo's, you looked like you lived up to your name "Mudpuppy". I've seen many a logging truck out west here, but I'd never seen one with the logs loaded sideways, that was cool to see.



    Thanks for sharing, great adventure ride report.



    P.S. When I was a Military Policeman in the Army, we were called "Mudpuppies- MP). Any connection?


  9. #8
    Senior Member ATXthumper's Avatar
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    that atv trail looked like mosquito central!

    you're lucky to have a wife that rides with you!
    '01 TW200: Tusk D-Flex Handguards w/ Spoilers, Pro Taper Grips, LEDs in Idiot Lights, Headlight Rockguard, Stearns Seat Pad, Oversized Footpegs and a Loud Ass Horn -SOLD
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  10. #9
    Senior Member mudpuppy's Avatar
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    MrGizmo, I do have a GREAT wife (and since she has already read my original post, I can safely write that without fear of swelling her head). She is usually willing to at least give something a try.



    She was a little freaked out by the muddy atv trail near Bergland because once you were in it you really didn't have any option other than to continue on or give up entirely--- and it was about the only game in town as far as really off-roading. The soil in the L'Anse area was not as muddy, and you never had to go more than a few hundred yards down the main logging road before you found another old, abandoned 'road' branching off into the forest. The possiblilities were endless, so you didn't feel bad about turning around if things started to look to too challenging.



    And yes ATX Thumper, the Bergland atv trail seemed to have the mosquitoes----- they started swarming if you were stopped for too long. Surprisingly, I didn't see any up around L'Anse----- maybe we just got lucky.



    Admiral, the mudpuppy name was chosen because I live next to the Mississippi River and my dad once caught a salamander by that name while we were fishing one night----- freaked him out so bad he squealed like a little girl.



    Corey



    and for your trucking pleasure:

    two 2009 TWs, Ricochet skidplates, Moose Racing 'Expedition' rack (like a Borrega), DID 428V O-ring chains, DMoto2 -style black steel footpegs from eBay

  11. #10
    Senior Member Petrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudpuppy View Post


    Thats massive !!!

    I`ve never seen snow......
    2008 TW200

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