This small town calls for big adventure. Spend some time in the natural beauty of Big Bay, Michigan with this two-day itinerary. A 30-minute drive from Marquette will take you to the tranquil retreat town, where the road quite literally ends. You will have access to uncrowded nature trails, scenic stretches of Lake Superior, and homegrown businesses with local charm.
Morning walk to Yellow Dog Falls
Head down the Country Road 510 to the Yellow Dog Community Forest. This charming slice of scenery is a favorite local hiking spot found along an unassuming county road. Park in the small lot and walk down towards the water to find the trailhead. The hike starts out by the Yellow Dog River and winds underneath tree canopies and forest on the path to Yellow Dog Falls. About a mile into the trail, you will find the waterfalls off to your left, which you can view from above or below. Once you reach the falls you can choose to turn around or continue along the trail to see a series of smaller falls and rapids.
Enjoy breakfast or lunch at Hungry Hollow Cafe
When you’re done with your hike, head over to Hungry Hollow for a bite. This down-to-earth cafe feels like a little history museum, featuring historic photos of Big Bay upon the tables and walls. As you peruse the photos of lumberjacks and early residents, the friendly servers will come by and serve up heaping helpings of diner favorites like chili, hamburgers, and breakfast. If you’re in town on a Friday, be sure to try their Friday Evening Fish Fry.
See Superior from above at the Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook
Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook has simply been described by visitors as not to be missed. It affords stunning views of Lake Superior and Lake Independence. Park in the designated lot and head up the wheelchair-accessible, crushed gravel trail to Thomas Rock. The trail slowly gets steeper as you pass colorful trees on your way to the peak. Stop to admire the vast views from the top or take a seat at the picnic tables soak it all up.
Tour the Big Bay Point Lighthouse
Perched on a rocky point overlooking Lake Superior, the picturesque Big Bay Point Lighthouse has guided ships and sailors along Michigan’s coastline for more than a century. This notable lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has since been converted into a bed and breakfast, which also offers tours. Climb the lighthouse steps to the top of this beautiful beacon to peep the panoramic views.
Food and a Snooze at the Thunder Bay Inn
End the day at the historic Thunder Bay Inn, once the setting of famous James Stewart’s 1959 film “Anatomy of a Murder.” Grab dinner at the restaurant and bar, paneled with wood and decked in Michigan memorabilia. Order from their eclectic menu featuring everything from sandwiches and pizza to fresh-caught fish and Mexican food. After dinner, head into the charming inn, which was once a retreat for traveling Ford executives visiting the local automotive plant. You can even stay in renowned car magnate Henry Ford’s actual guest room with period furniture and views of Lake Independence.
Morning hike on the Big Bay Pathway
Described as groomed wilderness, the Big Bay Pathway has several trails for hikers, walkers, and outdoor enthusiasts. From the trailhead, start out on the 4-mile Hidden Grin Loop, which winds through hardwood stands, a beautiful hemlock forest, and a gentle creekside. In the winter, the Big Bay Pathway is a pure backcountry skiing experience with various loops for skiers of all levels.
Lunch at the Lumberjack Tavern
No trip to Big Bay would be complete without a trip to the iconic Lumberjack Tavern. The casual bar and restaurant was also featured in “Anatomy of a Murder” and was captured in actor-musician Jeff Daniels’ song the “Big Bay shuffle.” A popular local haunt, the Lumberjack Tavern has a rustic wooden interior and serves drinks and American eats.
Go Fishing on Lake Superior with Sore Arms Charters
Get out on the water with Sore Arm's Fishing Charters. Based at the historic Big Bay Harbor, Sore Arms specializes in trophy fishing and full-day trips to Stannard Rock, a lighthouse 45 miles north of Marquette. You can also go on a half-day charter and fish for Lake or Brown trout and Steelhead, Coho, and King salmon.