Today, we’re excited to announce the next release in our new map series. These maps cover the NCT in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Ninety maps, coming in at just over 550 miles, the NCT in “da UP” traverses large sections of continuous off-road Trail and remote tracts of northern forests. Welcome to the wild North Country!
The map set for the “Western Upper Peninsula” starts at the Wisconsin state line and works along a newer route established by a recent National Park Service Planning process. The first off-road sections of Trail start in the Ottawa National Forest heading toward the rugged Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The rugged nature of the Trail doesn’t end at the park boundary. The Trail enters the Trap Hills region back in the Ottawa National Forest. Bring your hiking “A” game as remoteness and ruggedness are the norm for this 200-mile segment of NCT. This segment continues to Craig Lake State Park and the Marquette County Line.
Starting on the east side of Craig Lake State Park, the “Central UP” map set has the hiker headed back towards civilization in the town of Marquette. But first, the route passes through 60+ miles of challenging and highly scenic Trail. This includes the unmarked Trail in McCormick Wilderness (that’s wilderness with a capital “W,” mind you) as well as a mix of state and private properties. Astounding views of Lake Superior present themselves as the route descends into the outdoorsy community of Marquette. Marquette offers the hiker everything they’d need in a Trail Town. From Marquette, the Trail heads east along the big lake before jumping back into the woods and a mix of local, state and private properties. This area is a highly noted regional destination for a variety of outdoor pursuits including year-round mountain biking and the famed Noquemanon Ski Trail, “the Noque.” After 50+ miles the Trail again turns towards Lake Superior and the town of Munising. Stop in and resupply, enjoy a traditional UP pastie. From Munising, the NCT continues along Lake Superior into one of the most unique and awe-inspiring landscapes in North America, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Here you’ll find 40+ miles of over-the-top vistas and views. Walk the beaches and come up close to the remains of shipwrecks claimed by the great lake. Pictured Rocks ends in the town of Grand Marais. A mix of woods and lakeshore will take the hiker through this region of literary note. Hikers will follow black bear tracks and fall asleep to the sounds of wolves howling, maybe while reading Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” or Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River.”
The “Eastern UP” map set starts where the Trail crosses the Two-Hearted River and heads south through state forest to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Tahquamenon Falls is a year-round destination for hiking and snowshoeing. Witness the power of the Tahquamenon River’s tannin-stained waters pour over the Upper and Lower Falls. Be sure to stop by the Tahquamenon Brewery located conveniently near the Trail in the park. Following the Tahquamenon River through the park, the hiker will get their last view of Lake Superior at the river mouth. From here the Trail heads south for nearly 100 miles in the eastern unit of Hiawatha National Forest towards the town of St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge.
These maps continue to be available as a no-cost digital download, please consider making a donation to support this work. The PDF files can be printed at home as well as used on a mobile device with the Avenza App. The maps are made at a scale that is built for on-trail navigation: one inch equals a half-mile. The numbered mileage index shown on these maps allow you to easily estimate mileages along the Trail. Additionally, by loading the digital version of the mileage index on a GPS receiver you can use the numbered index to relate your location from the GPS receiver back to the maps.
Please note, these maps will be updated regularly. Always make sure you have the most recent version. Also keep in mind that the numbered mileage points will also change with the Trail. These are virtual points and don’t represent a permanent location on the ground. Please be cautious when using these points to communicate a location along the Trail.
Along with the UP maps, we’re also including a number of significant updates along the length of the Trail in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. You can find these maps and others at https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/maps/