By: Allison Derouin
Summer’s blazing rays give way to crisp air, earthy tones, and subtle falling leaves. It’s that time of year when Ontonagon, Michigan, and the Porcupine Mountains transform into a colorful paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Whether you prefer to sit back and enjoy the views from Mother Nature or get knee-deep in all the autumn festivities, Ontontagon has got you covered! It’s time to pack your favorite hoodie, plan a bonfire, and schedule your Western Upper Peninsula fall tour today!
Autumn Magic and ATVs
Autumn brings about a flurry of wildlife activity as animals prepare for winter. Watch for white-tailed deer, beavers, otters, and maybe even a porcupine?! (But it’s not where this legendary mountain gets its name) The Porcupine Mountains, aka “the Porkies” also provide ample opportunities for birdwatching, so pack your binoculars and keep an eye out for feathered friends – you might even be able to spot an eagle!
Enjoying the autumnal splendor is as easy as hopping on your favorite off-road ride! The Porcupine Mountains boast some of the most stunning fall foliage views in the Midwest. Take a scenic off-road drive along the 135 miles of designated ATV and UTV trails throughout Ontonagon County. This region is a visual treat during the fall months, with its dense forests showcasing a symphony of red, orange, and gold leaves. Capture the beauty of the changing seasons from your 4-wheeler, and stop for those Instagram-worthy shots.
Frolicking Through Fall!
Autumn is the perfect time to explore hiking trails at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Whether you’re a casual stroller or a seasoned trekker, there’s something for every level. The state park is home to 90 miles of hiking trails, like the brisk Beaver Creek Trail (1.2 miles) or the more moderate Big Carp River Trail (9.6 miles), that provide jaw-dropping views of the colorful landscape. Pack some broken-in hiking boots and a granola bar, and you’re all set!
Do you know what else reaches peak stunningness this time of year? The Lake of the Clouds! This iconic destination is an ethereal mirror nestled between forested hills and is the perfect scenic site to capture nature in all its brilliant glory.
Of course, the Porkies can satiate the cravings of any true adventurer. Try mountain biking along rugged trails (check out a trail map here) but pack a helmet! If you’re a water lover, try kayaking on the Ontonagon River and the Presque Isle River. You could take your kayak or canoe out onto Lake Superior and marvel at the vastness of the largest Great Lake! There are several public launch sites on Superior, including one at Union Bay. Observing fall colors from land is one thing, but it’s an entirely new experience to witness the splendor while floating on the water.
Lean into Local Life
The Ontonagon area also possesses an abundance of rich history and culture. Visit the Ontonagon Lighthouse and embrace learning about the maritime heritage of the region’s past. The lighthouse is open through mid-October. Now’s the time to make your trip before it closes for the winter! The Porcupine Mountains Folk School also has workshops that allow you to engage with local artisans and create one-of-a-kind crafts— from blacksmithing to watercolor, knitting, and everything in between. The Ontonagon Theater has affordable and entertaining concerts and performances throughout the fall season. Be sure to check out their schedule here and grab some tickets!
Don’t forget to add the Fall Fest and 6th Annual ATV Poker Run to your Ontonagon “to-do” list. The festival takes place September 30th at the Ontonagon Fairgrounds and boasts a variety of activities to enjoy throughout the day. There is an age minimum to join (must be 18 years old), and tickets are only $10. Look out for more details here as the event date gets closer!
While we hate to see summer leave, we welcome the cool embrace of the next season, where we see life transition into a more slow-paced and beautiful time of year right before our eyes. Ontonagon, Michigan, and the Porcupine Mountains beckon with scenic beauty and exciting activities. From breathtaking foliage to invigorating outdoor expeditions, this region transforms into an autumn utopia that promises lasting memories. Ontonagon, Michigan, and the Porcupine Mountains offer something special for everyone seeking an autumn escape.
Are you ready to experience the magic of Ontonagon, Michigan, and the Porcupine Mountains this autumn? Plan your trip today and envelop yourself in the stunning landscapes, rich culture, and exciting excursions that await you. Don’t miss all the fall fun in the enchanting western corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!