North Country Trail Association

Trail Town: Marquette

A historic city nestled on the shore of the worlds largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior, Marquette, Michigan is a unique place. Located in Michigans Upper Peninsula, the City of Marquette is pleased to be named an NCTA Trail Town, and the moniker is certainly appropriate.

In addition to the North Country Trail, Marquette includes access points to the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, Noquemanon Trail Network, Hiawatha Water Trail, and the City of Marquette’s Multi-Use Pathway.

Dove Day
Dove Day

After large-scale iron extraction began to the west of present-day Marquette in the mid-1840s, Marquette blossomed as a port city. It was incorporated first as a village in 1859 and as a city approximately 12 years later. The shipment of iron ore defined the young Marquette and for visitors to the picturesque community, that tradition is on full display: from the old iron kilns situated along the highway to the towering – and no longer functional – ore dock in Marquette’s Lower Harbor. Ore boats still frequent the operational Upper Harbor dock.

Marquette is home to more than a dozen entries on the National Register of Historic Places including the Marquette Harbor Light Station, constructed in 1865; St. Peter Cathedral, built in the late 1800s; and the Marquette County Courthouse, which was built in the earliest years of the 1900s and which was featured prominently in the Oscar-nominated courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder. Of particular interest to long-distance hikers, the historic post office towers over downtown Marquette.

Duane Lawton

If you are looking to learn a bit more about Marquette and its history, be sure to visit the Marquette Regional History Center, the Marquette Maritime Museum, or the Peter White Public Library. If exploration is your thing, it is more than worth your time to head north to Presque Isle, the city’s recreational crown jewel. There, hikers can avail themselves of the network of paths crisscrossing the 323-acre forested peninsula, and can visit the grave of Charles Kawbawgam, a Native American chief who lived on Presque Isle until his death in the early 1900s.

Those looking to see what Marquette has to offer can use the Rosewood Walkway, the trail gateway to downtown Marquette where visitors will find ample opportunities for food, fun, and relaxation.

The options are many, from Vango’s Pizza and Cocktail Lounge and Stucko’s Pub and Grill along Third Street to the Northland Pub at the Landmark Inn, Donckers, Dead River Coffee, and various other restaurants located in the traditional downtown area. If you’re seeking a lake view, try Iron Bay Restaurant and Drinkery, Sol Azteca, or The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery, a restaurant/brewery that serves fresh Lake Superior whitefish. If you’re thirsty after stepping off the trail, Marquette is home to many craft breweries including Drifa Brewing Company (found right on the trail), Ore Dock Brewing Company, and Blackrocks Brewery to name a few.

Lorana Jinkerson
Lorana Jinkerson

Depending on when you swing through Marquette, you may also catch one of the city’s many festivals or events, as the summer schedule is a busy one. The outdoor calendar is punctuated by the annual Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic, the largest mass start point-to-point race in Michigan. If you’re hoping to spend some time in Marquette, you should consider camping in the Tourist Park, which is situated alongside a basin on the Dead River. The park includes hot showers and modern restroom facilities, and campsites are a short walk from Lake Superior, downtown Marquette, and the North Country Trail. Be sure to call ahead to reserve sites, as the summer months can be quite busy. Other lodging options can be found via the city’s tourist bureau, Travel Marquette.

The Marquette Area Chapter is responsible for the North Country Trail section nearest Marquette.


Additional Resources

Header photo by Kenny Wawsczyk