North Country Trail Association

Trail Town: Marquette

A historic city nestled on the shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior, Marquette, Michigan is a unique place. Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the City of Marquette is pleased to be named a 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-1840’s, Marquette blossomed as a port city. It was incorporated first as a village in 1859 and as a city some 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 1800’s; and the Marquette County Courthouse, which was built in the earliest years of the 1900’s 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 1900’s.

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 Blackrocks Brewery, both situated along Third Street; to the Ore Dock Brewing Co. and various restaurants located in the traditional downtown area. If you’re seeking a lake view, try Bistro, Sol Azteca, or the Vierling, a restaurant/brewery that serves fresh Lake Superior whitefish.

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 City’s 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 City’s 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 Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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


Additional Resources

Header photo by Kenny Wawsczyk