More than a decade ago, I had occasion to visit friends while they were visiting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was my first trip to the Mitten State (so named because the southern portion looks roughly like the shape of a mitten on a map). The above image is a view of the Ottawa National Forest from Copper Peak.
Surrounded by four of the Great Lakes, Michigan is home to some unique landscapes. Mackinac island and Isle Royale National Park to name only a couple of scenic places.
At the western edge of the Upper Peninsula, the Black River meanders through the Ottawa National Forest before finding its way to the largest of the great lakes, Lake Superior. There, at Black River Harbor you will find a campground and plenty of parking for boat trailers. A public ramp is available for launching most any boat trailered to the harbor. From there, it’s a very short distance past the breakwater and into Lake Superior. In my research for this article, I discovered that the Black River Harbor is in the midst of a major reconstruction project. Camping is closed for the 2015 season and there will be no water available due to the rebuilding of the harbor’s water system. More details here. Please plan accordingly.
One of the nearby attractions is a ski jump at Copper Peak. The artificial ski jump is the largest in the world. The opening shot in this post was taken from the top of the jump. Originally built and used in competition in 1970, the last competitions were held in 1994. The upper observation platform is 1782 feet above sea level and 1180 feet above Lake Superior.
Amazingly, the structure was open to climb the stairs to look down from the top. If i wasn’t supposed to be up there, I’m sure the statute of limitations has expired. Besides, this picture was taken by a friend who’s name I forgot. Unused for many years, the jump is being refurbished and readied for competition again. Today, visitors to Copper Peak can ride a ski lift up the hill and ride the 18-story elevator to the main observation deck. From there, it’s only another 8 stories to the top starting gate. The Adventure Ride is open on a varying schedule from mid-May to mid-October. Check their website for latest dates and hours of operation here.
Another view from the top of the ski jump features a fire watch tower and other National Forest facilities. The view from the top is a 360-degree expanse that, on a clear day, provides a glimpse of our Canadian neighbor to the north. The Ottawa National Forest consists of nearly a million acres (4046 sq. km), and is a spectacular place to visit in the fall when the leaves are turning. The rolling hills, lakes and rivers provide plenty of opportunity for wildlife photography as well. You can find out more about the Ottawa National Forest here.