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Simply Superior

Michigan’s Eagle Harbor abounds in peace, quiet, and
natural beauty

Simply Superior
Photo by Michigan Sea Grant
College Program

Michigan’s keweenaw peninsula pokes like a crooked finger into Lake Superior, nudging several tiny communities along its coast into the cold breezes and waves of the world’s largest lake. Perhaps the most idyllic and isolated of these is Eagle Harbor, situated around a snug natural port guarded by a historic lighthouse. It’s a place where you can paddle a kayak or sit on the beach when Lake Superior is rough—or begin one of the most scenic and challenging bike rides along the Superior shore.

Eagle Harbor has a rich history. In the late 1800s, the port’s heyday for shipping ore from the peninsula’s copper mines, the tiny lakeside town was home to hundreds of people. In addition to the mining, the harbor served as a base for the U.S. Life Saving Service and, until 1951, the U.S. Coast Guard. Today, the community is a sleepy outpost, home to just a few dozen homes, a couple gift shops, and buildings dating from the town’s early days.

One building that’s a must-see for history lovers is the lighthouse. Originally built in 1851, and reconstructed in 1871, it encapsulates the essence of the town; a lonely outpost standing strong against the furies of Lake Superior. Though it still has a working light, today it operates mainly as a museum.

Eagle Harbor’s remote location makes for some excellent biking opportunities. A looping 30-mile ride (suitable for road or mountain bikes) follows a lightly traveled rural road east along Highway 26. The ride hits some of the area’s best attractions: sparkling Silver Falls, one of Michigan’s prettiest waterfalls (there are more than 200 in the Upper Peninsula alone); Upson Lake Nature Sanctuary and Brockway Mountain Sanctuary; and, at the peak of the ride, an overlook 726 feet above Lake Superior. As you pause to catch your breath, see if you can spot Isle Royale and the Ontario shore, both visible on clear days.

Heading back to town, you’ll pass through Copper Harbor and finish your ride beside Lake Superior. If you packed a picnic, Hebard County Park and Esrey County Park are great spots to stop and eat.

Eagle Harbor isn’t as bustling as it once was, but it’s still just as beautiful. And for a quiet summertime getaway, sometimes that’s all you really need.
 

MNMO’s Guide to Eagle Harbor

WHERE TO STAY

The eight-unit Shoreline Resort offers direct beach access and a great view of Lake Superior (from $75, 906-289-4441, shorelineresort.com). The suites at Dapple Gray Bed & Breakfast all have balconies facing the lake, perfect place for early-morning coffee or a glass of wine at night (from $150, 906-289-4200, dapple-gray.com).
 

WHAT TO EAT

Start the day with a sit-down breakfast at Shoreline Resort Café. Come lunch and dinner time, Eagle Harbor Inn is your best bet (the full rack of ribs and hand-tossed pizza are excellent). Got a sweet tooth? Drive four miles west to Jampot bakery. Run by the Monastic Church of St. John, it’s known around the region for its preserves, cookies, and fruitcakes.
 

WHAT TO DO

Tour the Eagle Harbor lighthouse. Built in 1851 (and replaced in 1871), it has yet to retire from its job of guiding ships through the northern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula. (10 a.m.–5 p.m., mid-June to early October, $4 for adults). From August 11–12, more than 60 local artists will be showing off their wares at the Eagle Harbor Art Fair (ccaartists.org).
 


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