The Central Tour trail length is approximately 165 miles.
This tour begins in Shingleton, Michigan. Begin by turning right on to H15 at Shingleton and travel to H58. Turning right you will travel on H58 to Munising and merge onto M28. You will pass through AuTrain and on to Marquette. Munising to Marquette is approximately 44 miles. Approaching Marquette you will take M28/US41 West towards Negaunee, a left had turn. Driving west you will travel about three miles and make a right hand turn onto Wright Street. Travel on Wright Street for several miles until you see a sign that says Big Bay. This will be a left hand turn on County Road 550 for about 25 miles until you get to a sign that says County Road 510. This will again be a left hand turn. This road is a gravel road, but in the fall is heavily traveled for it’s scenic beauty. Many spots on the road, you will be completely covered in brilliant colors formed by a canopy of foliage. This trip is approximately 20 miles to Midway Drive. You will travel on Midway Drive for approximately 1 mile. At US 41 /M28 turn left towards Marquette. Outside of Marquette at the stop light you will make a left hand turn and take M28 East to Munising. This tour from Munising to Marquette Travels parallel to Lake Superior and has many scenic stops on the beaches. From Munising travel east on M28 to Shingleton, completing your tour.
The West Tour is another scenic fall tour as travelers drive south from Marquette on US-41 and turn in at the entrance of the Nordic Bay. Stay to your left on the Cliff Tower Road and follow the signs up Mount Marquette for a panoramic look of Marquette. The road comes out on County Road 553, where you turn left and travel past Marquette Mountain Ski Resort to the intersection of County Roads 553 and 480. Turn right on County Road 480 and drive west to Business M-28 in Negaunee. Turn left on Business M-28 and continue west through the historic iron mining regions of Negaunee and Ishpeming to US-41. Turn left onto US-41 and travel west approximately three miles to Wawonowin Road (County Road 478) and continue past the golf club and the Greenwood Reservoir. County Road 478 takes you west 10 miles into Republic. Turn right on M-95 and travel north to US-41. Turn left on US-41 and drive west through Champion and Michigamme. In Michigamme, see craft shops and a historic log restaurant where the movie “Anatomy of a Murder” was filmed. If you would like to stretch your legs, hike on the Lookout Trail located approximately one mile north on the Peshekee Road. On the return trip to Marquette along US-41, side trips include the Moose Lift Kiosk at Van Riper State Park, the National Ski Hall of Fame in ishpeming, and the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee. Approximate tour distance: 100 miles.
The North Tour winds along County Road 550, located just north of Marquette off Wright Street, is an impressive drive through cut rock harboring a beautiful array of fall color. This 35 minute ride to Big Bay takes you winding past Sugarloaf Mountain, Hogsback Mountain, past the Yellow Dog River and Lake Independence into Big Bay. While there, you can see a historic hotel where the filming of the movie “Anatomy of a Murder” took place and where Henry Ford spent much of his time while supervising his lumber mill which manufactured the sideboards for the early Ford station wagons. Just take in the view of the Big Bay Harbor from Squaw Beach! On your way, you may want to stop and climb Sugarloaf (20 minute hike) or venture off the route to Wetmore’s Landing and Little Presque Isle or take a 2.5 mile uncharted hike on the Little Garlic River to see the falls. The return trip from Big Bay along County Road 510 will take you through the majestic Huron Mountains and past trees which arch over the roadway to form a tunnel of color. While traveling on 510 don’t forget to stop off at Thomass Rock for a scenic view of Big Bay, Lake Independence, and Lake Superior. Approximate tour distance: 75 miles.
The East Tour begins as you travel south from Marquette along US-41 approximately 17 miles to the junction of M-94. Seven miles east of this junction is the turnoff for Laughing Whitefish Falls. (To reach these falls, drive north along the Sundell Road approximately three miles.) Return to M-94 and continue east until you reach H-03 located between Chatham and Forest Lake. Drive north on H-03 along the AuTrain River and past scenic AuTrain Lake until you reach the junction of M-28. Travel east along the Lake Superior shoreline on M-28. On a clear day you can see Marquette in the distance. Approximate tour distance: 85 miles.
Directions: In Ishpeming, West of Al Quaal Park, is a great overlook. While traveling west on 41 from Marquette, turn right on N 2nd. Street (opposite the Ski Hall of Fame), N 2nd. street becomes Prairie Avenue, you will see a little brick church on the right hand side at the end of the road. Head toward the wooded area behind the church, you will then see some rocks that look like steps. Walk up the rocks and veer towards your right and take it to the rock outcrops. You will be on a cliff and see an overlook of Baby Lake and a wonderful view of Fall Colors.
Directions: From the intersection of Presque Isle Avenue and Hawley Street (CR 550), go approximately 23.5 miles to CR 510 (about 2.5 miles before Big Bay), turn left (south) onto CR 510, go approximately 1 mile on CR510 for parking on the right.
The Thomas Family has donated this favorite outing destination to Powell Township, with the provision that the name be changed to Thomas Rock Trail. There’s now a paved, wheelchair-accessible trail winding around and up to the scenic lookout, which has a grand view looking off to the Keweenaw Peninsula. Interpretive signs identify plants along the trail. It takes about 20 minutes to walk around, up, and down. Picnic tables and restrooms are extra amenities, paid for with funds from the DNR Land Trust Fund from gas and oil revenues.
Directions: Sugarloaf Mountain is 6-7 miles north of downtown Marquette on CR 550. Get there by taking Front to Washington, turn west and go to Fourth Ave. Turn north onto Fourth, which becomes Presque Isle Ave. At Hawley turn west. It turns into CR 550. Look for sign by parking lot. Free. Handicap accessible: no.
The summit of this cherished local landmark offers grand views looking north and east to Lake Superior, and south to the city of Marquette with its steeples and the green forests beyond. It’s a 15- to 20-minute walk to the peak – a view best enjoyed when the morning sky is still dawn-rosy. The trail is well marked. This half-mile climb is mostly stairway. Rated “moderate” in difficulty, it is less strenuous than it might otherwise be, thanks to the steps built by the county, plus benches along the way and a deck at the peak.