Roadside parks are rarely on our list of “must see” stops during family vacations. There is no doubt that many of them provide a nice, scenic respite from the doldrums of a long drive. But I can count the number of them that I remember on one hand. In fact, on one finger. It’s Canyon Falls Roadside Park in Baraga County, Michigan.
Roughly ten miles south of L’Anse, Michigan on US 41 is a “blink and you’ll miss it” roadside park. The parking lot reveals none of the wonder that lies a short hike away, and the day we visited you wouldn’t guess there was a “must see” natural wonder nearby based on the number of cars in the lot. But we put on our water-friendly hiking footwear, Chaco Men’s Odyssey sandals in my case, and followed the signs toward what is referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the U.P.”
The display at the trail’s entrance identifies it as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a 4,600 mile trail from North Dakota to New York. But if you visit their website, https://northcountrytrail.org/, the trail is now 4,700 miles long and goes all the way to Vermont! While extensive hiking wasn’t on our agenda that day, I did file this away for future outdoor adventures.
Just a few minutes into our gentle hike, we came to the Sturgeon River where we got our first glimpse of the natural beauty hidden at this roadside park. Beautiful rock formations, gentle water flows and calming pine trees surrounded us and we immediately knew this was a stop to remember. Water-friendly shoes were not required as the trails were in good shape and wading was not a critical component of enjoying this hike. Our favorite part may have been grabbing a seat on one of the huge, flat rocks and listening to the water rush by.
We continued down the river to Canyon Falls, which was stunning! The canyon beyond the falls was a site to behold as well, and we immediately wished we had more time to explore all the way down the canyon. But we didn’t grasp the depth and majesty of this little roadside park coming in, so we’ll have to make another trip to the “Grand Canyon of the U.P.” to explore further. And the canyon below, that we didn’t explore, looks like it may have required the water-friendly footwear we mentioned above.
So next time you’re making your way across the U.P., punch Canyon Falls Roadside Park into Google Maps and go spend a couple hours exploring the most unexpected scenery at a roadside park that we’ve ever encountered! But before you leave, gear up at Earth’s Edge!
When things get busy in Grand Haven during the summer, you may want to escape to nearby Muskegon for a hike or bike ride along the lakeshore. One trail that hikers and bikers should explore is the Lakeshore Trail — it is 12 miles long and offers amazing views of Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. Hikers and bikers will get to walk or bike through the middle of the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. Best of all, the path is paved so it is great for hikers and bikers of all experience levels. The path has very few changes in elevation, so it is a perfect path for everyone.
Take A Hike At P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
For those looking for a great place to hike or camp that is close by, check out P.J. Hoffmaster park in Muskegon. This state park is only about 20 minutes from Grand Haven and offers some great hiking trails and a wonderful campground.
Spring is here and us Michiganders can’t wait until our mitten state is in full bloom! What better way to celebrate spring being sprung than going for a hometown hike! We grabbed our Salewa hiking footwear and headed to Muskegon State Park to ring in the new season!