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Great Lakes Winter Hotspot: A 72 Hour Getaway in Marquette, MI

Hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and biking in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

By: Joe Whitson + Save to a List

Located on the south shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake and in the heart of the Upper Peninsula’s Huron Mountains (mountains, at least, by Midwestern standards), Marquette is an outdoor destination all year long. Add over 12 feet of winter snowfall and a serious investment in snow-based sports and you get a perfect recipe for an amazing winter weekend.

Marquette can be a little difficult to get to – the nearest major airport is nearly 200 miles away in Green Bay and it is far from any interstate – but that hasn’t stopped the town from developing a vibrant community or from becoming an international destination for extreme sports like ski jumping and fat tire biking. So brave the cold and get into the Yooper spirit for 72 hours in Marquette.

Day 1:

Fuel up for your first day in Marquette by visiting one of the town’s many local breakfast haunts like Café Bodega, a farm-to-table, arts-centered café in the downtown district. Don’t feel bad about asking for a second portion of their famous Tuscan breakfast potatoes. You’re going to need them when you head out to the trails.

There are hundreds of miles of non-motorized trails in the Marquette area, much of which are part of the Noquemanon Trail Network or what locals call the NTN. A good way to start exploring the NTN is on foot with a hike to Morgan Creek Falls, beginning at the South Noquemanon Trailhead. A word of caution: the trail intersects with a fast-paced snowmobile route, so make sure you’re paying attention. For a break from hiking, head out to the nearby town of Negaunee to grab a burger and some local craft beer at Jackson’s Pit pub. 

Situated right alongside Teal Lake, the town is one the most popular and accessible areas to try your hand at ice fishing. 

For those looking for more of a thrill, Negaunee is also the place to check out Marquette’s most iconic and nerve-wracking sport: ski jumping. Suicide Hill Bowl has five ski jumps ranging from 15 feet (“for the children” according to Coach Gary Rasmussen) to the 90-foot professional jump. If you’re interested in trying, the jumps are not generally open to the public, so make sure to contact the Ishpeming Ski Club to schedule a time well in advance.

For dinner, head to The Marq, another all locally and seasonally sourced restaurant back in Marquette where the winter months bring a carefully crafted menu of meats and root vegetables. Finish your day by heading just across the street to Ore Dock Brewery for a warm environment and live music. 

Day 2:

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like riding through fresh snow on bikes with 4-inch wide tires, Marquette is the place to find out. Head over to Lakeshore Bike to rent your fat tire bikes (reserving in advance is recommended) and then either haul them or bike them to the NTN north trailhead. With miles of trails, you can choose an “EZ PZ” route in Tourist Park or along the Dead River Reservoir for just an hour or two or head out for the day on trails along the Dead River and into Forestville Park.

For the afternoon, check out The Delft, an open kitchen, New American restaurant attached to the historic movie theater (check their website to see what’s playing) then head north of town to Marquette’s most popular hike at Sugarloaf Mountain. The Sugarloaf hike offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the area, a parklike forest and unparalleled views of Lake Superior on one side and the rocky hills of the Iron Country on the other. 

It’s a relatively short hike that will leave you plenty of time to warm up with a beer at Barrel + Beam Brewery.

For dinner, escape from the ice and snow for a couple hours at Lagniappe, a basement Cajun eatery right in the center of Marquette. Try the alligator bites and spend some time with their custom craft cocktail menu.

Day 3:

Wake up right with coffee, an omelet, and a sunrise over the lake at Donker’s, a quaint, counter-service diner situated on the second floor of a candy store. Feel free to pick up some fudge downstairs to keep up your energy while your snowshoe another section of the NTN. 

If you visit the last weekend of January, you can test your snowshoe running abilities in the Noquemanon Snowshoe Race (the main event is a cross-country ski 50k for those interested). Alternatively, take a more leisurely approach along the Forestville Park trail system. Snowshoeing is especially good in Marquette since the lake effect snows bring frequent fresh storms, keeping the trails from being too compacted.

Grab lunch at Digs Gastropub for classic pub fare done well. 

You can’t leave Marquette without spending time with Lake Superior by exploring Presque-Isle Park and the Black Rocks. Presque-Isle showcases the most unique feature of Lake Superior in the winter: phenomenal pancake ice and ice blasted forests. While the road is mostly closed for the season, a short walk along the shore will bring you to Black Rocks Cove, barren cliffs of ancient volcanic rock overlooking the bay. Take your time exploring the shoreline – this is a great place to watch the sunset – but keep an eye for the ice deposited on the rocks by the lake’s winter storms!

Finally, end your trip with a dinner of locally-caught fish and a beer at Marquette’s original brewery, The Vierling & Marquette Harbor Brewery.

Learn more about what to do in Marquette at Travel Marquette

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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