By: Allison Derouin
We’ve all heard the saying “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” That’s what most Yoopers think of when referring to the end of a long winter. Of course, we love frolicking in the snow and buzzing around on our snowmobiles. But there’s something about the majesty we witness with the first signs of spring in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Winter frost gives way to the gentle embrace of new plant growth from once-frozen ground. Friends, this is when Ontonagon, Michigan comes alive with a burst of bright colors, crisp air with a hint of fresh dirt, and a chorus of birds returning from their winter vacation in the south. It’s that magical time of year when the new season brings an array of opportunities to venture into the outdoors and revel in the scenic beauty of the nearby Porcupine Mountains. If you’re eager to experience the best of springtime in this tranquil corner of Upper Michigan, keep reading to discover nature-immersive activities to create a much-needed break from your daily grind.
Hiking and Biking in the Porkies
If you’ve been patiently waiting to throw on those hiking boots without worrying about getting them soaked from the snowfall, you’re in luck! Spring is the ideal season for hikers, and Ontonagon is a gateway to the majestic Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Trails cater to all levels of hikers, from strolls (Union Spring Trail – 4.3 miles and takes you right to Michigan’s 2nd largest natural spring) to challenging treks (Little Carp River Trail – 11.3 miles with stunning views!) The Summit Peak Tower Trail (.5 miles) will take you to the iconic Summit Peak Observation Tower, where you can take in mind-blowing panoramic views of the surrounding landscape at a whopping 2,000 feet above sea level! Exploring the Porkies on 2-wheels is also an excellent way to see more lush springtime greenery and get a solid workout. There are more than 20 miles of designated mountain biking trails to check out, which also serve as cross-country trails in the winter. Use this comprehensive map to venture out to get that sweet Western UP air in your lungs as you cruise around the park!
Ambling and Ornithology The Porkies
The late, great Tom Petty once sang, “You belong among the wildflowers.” We agree! When spring is in full bloom, the forests surrounding Ontonagon transform into a carpet of wildflowers. The Porcupine Mountains offer various trails perfect for leisurely walks, where you can spot Marsh Marigolds, Wild Sarsaparilla, Bluebeard Lilies, and other native blooms. The Lake of the Clouds trail is easy to access, and at just over a mile, you can capture a myriad of wildflowers in all their glory. Bonus – you can see the Lake of the Clouds at the end of your stroll! Pictures are a must; these snaps would make beautiful home decor that’s ripe with vibrant memories from your Western UP trip.
If springtime in Ontonagon means that flowers rule the forest floor, then our aerial friends coming home from the south own the sky. We’re talking birds, of course! Ontonagon is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and spring brings an influx of migratory birds to the region. Grab your binoculars and head to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, where you can spot many avian species, including hawks, a majestic bald eagle, or a rare warbler, soaring above the treetops.
‘Falls and Fishing in the Porkies
Snow runoff means the waterfalls that laid dormant all winter are now racing with water during spring in Ontonagon. The Porcupine Mountains is home to some of the most beautiful ‘falls, making it the unofficial “cascading wonderland.” Presque Isle River Waterfalls is a three-for-one deal. It is home to Manabezho, Manido, and Nawadaha Falls, right in the heart of Porcupine Wilderness State Park. Bond Falls (aka the premier waterfall of Ontonagon County) is one of Michigan’s most stunning waterfalls, which is why it is one of the most photographed. It’s over 100 feet wide, has a 50-foot drop, and is easy to access from a viewing platform. It’s a delightful way to spend an afternoon – a brisk walk and rushing water echoing through the woods.
Fishing season becomes a new adventure during springtime in Ontonagon, Michigan. With the water level rising from the melted snow, it’s a perfect time to venture out onto the numerous inland lakes and rivers teeming with various fish species. Charter Fishing is available on Lake Superior and is a perfect excuse to get out on the lake with your buddies. If you’re more of a traditionalist, grab an overturned bucket, take a seat, and cast your line into Lake Superior for walleye, lake trout, and perch. Or head down to the Ontonagon
River for brown trout, steelhead trout, and salmon. No matter what fishing excursion you choose, you’re bound to eat like royalty at the end of your trip!
Springtime in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan feels like a reward to UP residents and visitors alike. It’s Mother Nature’s way of saying “Thank you for braving the cold for months on end, now here’s a feast for your senses.” Then with a snap of her fingers, natural wonders unfold in every corner of this picturesque region, especially in the Western UP and Ontanongon. When you visit the area this time of year, you will feel a palpable sense of relief, rejuvenation, and renewed excitement for the upcoming season. Whether you embark on the awe-inspiring trails of the Porcupine Mountains or gaze at the exquisite waterfalls and vibrant wildflowers, this destination provides a relaxing yet exhilarating experience for environment enthusiasts and explorers. It’s time to pack your bags, embrace the beauty of Ontonagon, and let the Porcupine Mountains weave their magic into your springtime escapade.