Hiking a linear trail has its challenges, foremost, avoiding the dreaded double-back. Worse, someone forgets to bring you back to your vehicle. Therefore, either leave your car where you want to end and ride to the start point or employ a spotting service, which is what I did when hiking a section of the North Country Trail just south of Paradise.
The North Country Trail exits Tahquamenon Falls State Park and is a road walk on Tahqua Trail and M123. It passes the Rivermouth unit then juts into the woods sharing time with a snowmobile trail. The trailhead is well marked but there appears to be no place to park. So, I left my car at the Naomikong Overlook Trailhead on the Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway.
I would like to note the scenic byway is an excellent place to explore, if you are not up to a ten mile hike. Numerous places to park and spur trails bring you right to Tahquamenon Bay on Lake Superior. Several pullouts have interpretive graphics. All the trails in the are well marked and easy to follow.
My first mile or so was on a snowmobile trail, until it crossed Silver Creek, then it became a tread through a tunnel of trees. Although well marked and having a definite trail corridor, the late summer vegetation was knee high in places.
After 2.2 miles from Silver Creek, the trail comes out to the scenic byway, and, you’ll have to walk a marked road walk before the trail goes back into the woods. For the next 4 miles, the trail follows the shore of Lake Superior. On this particular day, a stiff wind out of the northwest, compounded with water that was barely 40 degrees, made for a day where warm clothes were a requirement. I also witnessed a seche, where water is pushed from the north and was higher than normal on this day.
For the next 4.8 miles, the trail has to use the road to cross the Ankodosh, Roxbury, and Naomikong Creeks, and to circumvent where Lake Superior ate away the beach. Keep following the blue blazes in and out of the woods and you’ll find your way.
Although lightly used, I did run into a trail maintainer, two groups of dog walkers, and a grandfather with his grandkids fishing one of the inland creeks.
Tahquamenon Bay is very shallow, and, was under water for quite a period of time after the glaciers retreated. Today, many of these inland areas are conifer swamp. This is evident when the trail turns inland for the final mile as you utilize several boarwalks in cedar swamps. Climb up several set of stairs to the overlook and hopefully your car will stll be there.
Tom Funke is the author of 50 Hikes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.