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riday morning brought a gentle breeze, bright
blue skies and a mild temperature. We ate breakfast and left the campground
early to do some sightseeing. The first stop we made was at Summit Peak,
13-14 miles from the Union Bay campground on South Boundary Road. A ½ mile
trail departed from the parking lot and rose approximately 250 feet in elevation
before arriving at the observation tower. The trail was not very difficult
though because much of it was covered by planked walkways and staircases.
Shortly before reaching the tower there was an observation deck with a set
of binoculars for viewing distant points throughout the Porkies and beyond.
The sky was so clear that I was able to see the Copper
Peak Ski Jump
approximately 16 miles away to the west on highway 513.
We followed the planked walkway over to the tower a little further down the
trail. The Summit Peak tower is 40 feet tall and stands on the third highest
point in Michigan, and the highest in the Porkies, at an elevation of 1958
feet. The ruggedness of the Porkies was plainly visible from the top of the
tower. Far below us lay the densely forested park; its various types of trees
and vegetation looking like a giant green carpet draped over the rocky mountains
next stop was the Presque Isle campground about 15-16 miles away on the
west side of the park. The Presque Isle River is the largest river in the
park and contains three waterfalls, the Nawadaha, farthest to the south,
followed by the Manido and finally the Manabezho to the north. The river
is flanked by two trails, one on the east side and one on the west. On the
west side is a sturdy ½ mile boardwalk that parallels the river from
the Nawadaha falls down to the mouth of the river near Lake Superior. We
walked along the river and stopped at all
three of the falls. My favorite was the Manabezho, an impressive fall, similar
to the Upper Fall on the Tahquamenon River. Although the Manabezho's drop
is a bit shorter than the Tahquamenon's it does share the same root beer
colored water. The water acquires its tint from tannin which is produced
when dead trees, like spruce and cedar, break down and decay. The tannin
leeches into the soil where it is picked up by the ground water and eventually
works its way into the river. A large amount of water was thundering over
the rocky edge and crashing into the river 20-25 feet below, forming a large
wispy cloud of mist over the river's surface. We walked the boardwalk from
the Nawadaha falls to the mouth of the river at Lake Superior. The river
area near Lake Superior is another unique sight because much of the river
bottom and surrounding ground is comprised of layered rock called Nonesuch
. This sedimentary rock consists of layers of black or gray shale,
sandstone and siltstone and is especially evident between the Manabezho
fall and Lake Superior. The other common rock visible in this area is called
. Freda Sandstone is also a sedimentary rock but it is usually
tan, brown or red in color and contains medium to fine grain sediment.
On the way back to the campground we stopped off for one more short hike.
On South Boundary Road, approximately 1½ miles from M-107 is the
Union Mine Trail. The trail is a one mile, self-guided interpretive path
that passes several points of interest from the Union Mine which began operations
on the site in 1845. A pamphlet available at the park office or the beginning
of the trail explains each of the points of interest, such as locations
of mine shafts, partial structures and pieces of old equipment. Another
interesting site was the rectangular 'chute' that had been carved into
the rock on the river bottom to make room for a water-driven wheel that
supplied power for the worker's tools. I'm sure the scenery in this area
has not changed much over the last 150+ years since the mine shut down so
it was easy to imagine employees walking through these woods, tools in hand,
mining for copper.
After the hike we returned to the campsite, ate dinner and packed up as much gear as possible
so we'd be ready to head home by 7:30 a.m. the following morning.
Final count for the day:
A few chipmunks and a bald eagle making lazy circles in the sky over the road (that was an awesome
Miles covered today: 4.5
Total trip miles: 33.25
If you'd like to learn more about the Porcupine Mountains
then visit some of these links: