Marquette Trail Town

A historic city nestled on the shore of the world’s largest freshwater 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, the City includes access points to the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, Noquemanon Trail Network, and the Hiawatha Water Trail as well as the City of Marquette’s Multi-use Pathway.

Getting to Marquette

You can find Marquette on the North Country Trail retail paper Map MI-11Au Trail Lake to Little Garlic Falls.

Driving from the east on either US-41 or M-28, the closest access to the trail is at the MDOT Welcome Center in Harvey. From the Welcome Center heading into Marquette and all through Marquette to Hawley Street, the Trail follows Lake Superior’s shoreline, US-41/M-28, Lake Street, and finally Lakeshore Blvd, respectively. There are many places to stop, park your vehicle and walk a portion of the NCT including the the Welcome Center, the Carp River Bridge, South Beach, Founders Landing, Lakeshore Parking, Mattson Park, McCarty’s Cove and Shiras Park.

Driving from the west on US-41/M-28 you travel through Marquette Township’s busy business district with a Wal-Mart where you can camp with an RV overnight. From the intersection to the Wal-Mart parking lot, continue on US-41/M-28 for approximately 0.2 miles. As you approach the City of Marquette proper, you will not take the US-41/M-28 Bypass that veers to the right, but veer to the left onto West Washington Street. Follow Washington Street all the way to Lakeshore Blvd just prior to Lake Superior. Park at any of the locations mentioned above along Lakeshore Blvd and enjoy a hike on the adjacent NCT.

Hiking from the east brings you in on the rail trail from Kawbawgam Pocket Park east of Harvey off M-28, crossing M-28 on the old railroad trestle and arriving near the back of the Welcome Center.

Hiking from the west brings you in from the Forestville Trailhead to the Tourist Park Trailhead just west of County Rd 550 (also known as the Big Bay Rd). From here, you can follow the trail to the corner of Hawley Street and Lakeshore Blvd which will take you to all the amenities highlighted on the Trail Town map.

About Marquette

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 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 the City’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.

Things to do and see

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.

In Marquette – and throughout the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan – the North Country Trail is maintained by the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter, which was the North Country Trail Association’s first chartered chapter. The trail runs the eastern length of the City, tracing miles of Lake Superior frontage, and if you’d like to explore more of the natural area, you’ll be presented with many options, including more than a dozen parks and beaches.

In fact, 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 the City 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 looking for a lake view, try Bistro, or Sol Azteca, in addition to the Vierling, a restaurant/brewery that serves fresh Lake Superior whitefish.

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 just a short walk from Lake Superior, downtown Marquette and the North Country Trail. Be sure, however, to call ahead to reserve sites, as the summer months can be quite busy. Other lodging options can be found on the Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

Additional Resources:

Downwind Sports
Lakeshore Bike
QuickStop Bike
Sam’s Shoe Repair
Sports Rack
Superior Outfitters

Goods and services:
Marquette Food Co-op
MarqTran Public Transportation
King Koin Laundromat
Valle’s Village Market

North Country Trail Hikers Chapter
Convention and Visitors Bureau, which hosts an ore boat schedule
Marquette Downtown Development Authority
Marquette Parks and Recreation Department