I love all the Great Lakes, but nothing beats the shoreline of Lake Superior. It’s calm and primal at the same time, peaceful and savage. You’ll find alternating cliffs and beaches all along the shore, and you’ll often see cliffs that drop straight down to beaches only accessible from the water.
One of the first things I had to get used to when I moved to the Upper Peninsula was the strange sensation of visiting the same beach in winter that I lounged on in the summer. When you grow up far away from the water like I did, you think of beaches as tropical, unchanging places. That’s definitely not true of the Great Lakes. But I also learned very quickly that Great Lake beaches are spectacular in every season of the year.
I discovered Wetmore Landing on my first hike up Sugarloaf Mountain just outside of Marquette. Now, Sugarloaf isn’t really a mountain to anyone who’s visited the Rockies, but it’s still a fun hike and gives amazing views of Lake Superior once you get to the top. During that first hike, I wandered around the mountain and noticed a pretty, crescent-shaped cove with a wide strip of beach to the northwest. I thought to myself, “I wonder how to get there?”
After hiking down from the mountain, I got in the car and drove up 550 until I found a trailhead in what looked like the right place. Sure enough, after a short hike from the little parking lot, I found myself looking dreamily over a nice beach rimmed by tall trees with big, Lake Superior boulders dotting the waters here and there.
Since then, I’ve made it a point to visit regularly. This is a popular spot with sunbathers, dog walkers, college kids from nearby Northern Michigan University, and hikers along the North Country Trail, which skirts the beach. It gets plenty of regular visitors even in the winter, but I’ve never seen it crowded.
I took this picture in the late afternoon. The winter sky is different somehow, and I like what the descending sun did to the horizon and waves. You couldn’t create colors like that if you tried, and Mother Nature worked them up like it was nothing at all. The wave action here usually keeps ice from forming, and it also ensures a strip of sand between the snow and the water. It all combines into a beautiful image.
Location: Wetmore Landing looking north over the beach