I've been touting the joys of the rural Upper Peninsula for years now. From the Porcupine Mountains to Copper Harbor, the western UP may be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Now Outside Magazine agrees with me.

Sure, it's a long drive (9 hours to Copper Harbor on a good day), but the rewards are worth it. Long, quality hiking and backpacking trails, unrelenting beauty and water falls galore await the adventurer looking for something a little out of the ordinary.

Outside Magazine, whose audience is outdoor enthusiasts who love a bit of a challenge, has this to say about the big lake they call 'Gitchee Goomee':

All ­together it’s a giant, world-class playground for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, kayak­ing, sailing, backcountry camping, and open-water swimming (for anyone crazy enough to try).

While the article focuses on the lake as a whole, meaning Ontario, Minnesota and Wisconsin share in the glory, the Outside magazine piece does call out some UP landmarks in its feature article.

One hundred and sixty miles west is the Keweenaw Peninsula, which pokes 80 miles into the lake like a fat thumb. At its pinnacle in the mid-1880s, this peninsula produced 90 percent of the nation’s copper. These days it’s more renowned for its copper-­colored craft beers and mountain biking. Copper Harbor, the former mining town at the tip, is designated a silver-level ride center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, thanks to 35-plus miles of singletrack that climb 500 feet, an impressive ele­vation change for the Midwest. During one raucous festival over Labor Day, locals built a jump at the end of a dock that launched riders into the water.

Yikes! I have yet to do that one, but I have rode up one of the scariest mountain bike courses I've ever experience, the butt clenching 'Stairway To Heaven', where one mistake means a pine needle scratching dive into the side of a mountain.

Add to the fact that the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has become one of the hottest travel spots in the country, and you can see the UP is red hot. Go there this summer and experience one of the best kept secrets in not only the US, but Michigan.

Here, take a ride down the mountain and see for yourself.


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