Presque Isle Park
|Extraordinary park—Marquette's Presque Isle|
This rocky, wooded, and extraordinarily picturesque peninsula at the northern entrance to Marquette Harbor is a wonderful setting for an outing any time of year. When locals mention "the island," they're talking about Presque Isle (pronounced locally "presk AISLE"). The green of pines contrasts with the red rock and great blue lake. South Beach is just south of the park. Extra drama comes from passing the Upper Harbor ore dock just outside the park entrance when an ore carrier is being loaded, a common occurrence.
|Myriad paths wind through dark woods and along dramatic rocky coastline, creating varied vistas that make Presque Isle one of the country's most delightful urban parks. In winter the path around the peninsula becomes a cross-country ski path, with a very comfortable warming house at trail's end.|
Turnouts and footpaths lead off of the one-way, two-mile-long interior road at especially scenic points. Five miles of trails go up and down through mixed woods of birch and hardy conifers, kept small by wind and rock. Now occasional interpretive signs now tell about tree species in the park. A resident deer herd includes some albino deer. Lacking protective coloration, albinos don't often survive in the wild, but in this protected place, they do.
From December into March, four miles of groomed cross-country ski trails (donation suggested) wind through the woods with occasional views past the ridges and peaks of lake ice to the still unfrozen lake. They are among the most beautiful places imaginable for skiing. One steep hill makes the mostly flat trails intermediate level, but beginners could walk or side-step down it. The trailhead is at the entrance by the gazebo on the lake side. Grills at various overlooks permit winter picnics. Spring skiers, be aware that the spring snowmelt comes earlier here than farther inland because of the lake's warming effect.
A gazebo and picnic area are on a promontory overlook near the entrance. They afford excellent views out into the lake and back at the ore docks and harbor. Where the road curves south, at the peninsula's west-facing north end, Sunset Point offers another grand view, especially at sunset. To the northwest are several craggy, dark islets and the Huron Mountains, blue in the distance. The high cliffs plunging into Lake Superior prove tempting - and on occasion fatal - for overadventurous rock climbers and divers.
The park's most developed portion is on the neck near the entrance. The road is two-way in this area. Marquette's huge SHIRAS POOL and a WATER SLIDE, open to the general public still without charge in 2005, are just inside the park entrance. The Moosewood Nature Center, open year-round, is in the pool building. A 1/4-mile paved Bog Walk Nature Trail is off the first parking lot past the entrance.
On the northwest shore, shallow, protected Middle Bay makes the Lake Superior beach more tolerable for swimming. In this area too are tennis courts, shuffleboard, a playground, a concession stand, and a picnic area. At the drive's end by the parking area, a beautiful, reservable log pavilion has a fire pit that's perfect for larger events. (It takes about five bags of charcoal to fire up.
In the bandshell right across from the picnic area and playground the Marquette City Band holds summer band concerts on Thursdays at 7 p.m. from mid June through the first Thursday in August. Rain dates are Mondays. Art on the Rocks on the last weekend of July is far and away Presque Isle's biggest event.
Presque Isle Park is at the end of Lakeshore Drive, about three miles from downtown. (906) 228-0460. Open year-round. No fees in 2005 except for x-c ski trail donation. Most parts of park are wheelchair-accessible. Bog nature trail is accessible, other trails aren't.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
Marquette Wi-fi Hotspots. • Peter White Public Library has wi-fi & public computers. 217 N Front between Ridge & Bluff. • Olson Library (NMU) has wi-fi & public computers. On Tracy St., off Wright St. • Dead River Coffee has wi-fi. 119 W. Baraga, just west of S. Front St. ... more
Presque Isle Park. One of the coolest city parks anywhere, it's a rocky, wooded peninsula jutting into Lake Superior with great vistas, 5 miles of walking paths, swimming pool and water slide, picnic grounds, bandshell ... more
Marquette County History Museum. Choice artifacts, some life-sized exhibits with audio, and a good gift shop make this stand out. See an Ojibwa family group,the Burt survey party, a child-scale street of shops ... more
Ridge and Arch Historic District. A well-maintained neighborhood of historic homes in a variety of late 19th-century styles, and two richly detailed red sandstone churches with unusual stained glass windows, one by Tiffany ... more
Lower Harbor. The beautifully designed focus of the city's Lake Superior waterfront, with a fresh and smoked fish shop, a playground/picnic park next to the marina, a historic lighthouse, a breakwall to walk out on ... more
Marquette Maritime Museum. A colorful museum with lots of great stuff: superb replicas of freighters, three Fresnel lighthouse lenses, hands-on fishing nets and a pilot house, colorful flags from Great Lakes freighters, a miniature reconstruction of a famous WWII naval battle ... more
U.S.S. Darter-Dace Silent Service Memorial. A fascinating computerized, narrated diorama of the Philippine naval battle that crippled the Japanese navy, highlighting the critical role of two subs with U.P. crews and a replica conning tower are part ... more
Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center . At the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center are exhibits on the various immigrant groups who populated the U.P., an historical look at student life at Northern Michigan University, and the artifacts from the life of philanthropist and business magnate Sam Cohodas. ... more
Marquette Harbor Light. Visitors can now tour this oft-photographed lighthouse on the rocks and take the catwalk 300' out to Lighthouse Point, with great panoramic views of Presque Isle, ore dock, harbor, and town ... more
Lakeside bike path from the Inner Harbor to Presque Isle. You can rent a bike or rollerblades for this beautiful, busy shoreline path from the inner harbor to magical Presque Isle Park, passing a beach and picnic area for students and one for families ... more
Lake Superior & Ishpeming RR Ore Dock. Extending a full quarter mile out into the lake, this huge 75' landmark is where you can watch taconite pellets of iron ore delivered by train and noisily dumped into a waiting ore carrier ... more
Alley Kat's Quilt Shop. Outstanding contemporary shop caters to quilters, fiber artists, home sewers, Lots of examples inspire quilters. Designer fabrics, geometrics, wools (for the primitive look), & linen-cotton blends for garments. ... more
Peter White Library. A dream library renovated and expanded through community visioning: restored 1904 reading rooms, an exhibit gallery, a children's room designed by kids, a community art gallery and shop, and a café/coffee bar with fresh Greek specialties ... more
The Village shopping district on Third Street. Between downtown and campus, Third Street has several popular restaurants, an excellent outdoors shop, a terrific fabric shop, a consignment shop, a bead shop ... more
Superior Dome. See the wood framework of the world's largest wood dome, used for athletics and community walking and jogging. Interesting exhibits in its outer corridor feature U.P. minerals, ethnic groups, and Upper Peninsula legends John Voelker, Dominic Jacobetti, Nita Engle, Glenn Seaborg, and Sam Cohodas ... more
DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University. With this facility, the Upper Peninsula has a real art museum, open year-round, with some high-level nationally important exhibits along with local and regional shows ... more
Marquette County Courthouse. A grand public building from 1902, used with respect. See the impressive courtroom where the Anatomy of a Murder case was tried, the great view from the steps, and the display of Voelker legal memorabilia ... more
St. Peter Cathedral and Baraga Archives. In the cathedral, stained glass windows of saints and scenes from Jesus's life. Next door, the papers of the snowshoe priest from Slovenia involved with the early history of many Michigan communities ... more
Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Low-tech, free wheeling, imaginative fun in a whacky micro city, a recyclatorium, and a great gift shop. Kids learn about microbiology after sliding down a toilet, fly in a real fuselage cockpit ... more
Park Cemetery. Download WMOT deejay Jim Koski's chatty Park Cemetery walking tour and a stroll through this hilly, wooded cemetery becomes a guided tour of the graves of Marquette's founding elite ... more
Jilbert's Dairy. An ice cream parlor is the centerpiece of this headquarters complex of the U.P.'s premier dairy, where you can see milk being processed, picnic next to a giant cow, and shop for various U.P. foods and knick-knacks ... more
U.S. 41 road cut with ancient algal stromatolites. Looming above Highway 41, this rocky cliff reveals eroded remains of ancient (2 billion-year-old) mountains once far higher than today's Rockies ... more
Blueberry Ridge Cross-Country Ski Trail/Escanaba River State Forest. 12K of trails, 1.7 miles of them lighted, are groomed for ski-skating and diagonal stride ... more