Beaches & Swimming
From the sandy shores of McCarty’s Cove’s to the volcanic bluffs of Black Rocks, when it comes to beaches, Marquette County has Superior coverage.
Among the most popular of Marquette beaches is McCarty’s Cove. With an expansive view of Lake Superior and the bright red Harbor Light in sight, it's no wonder why it's a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Throw in some volleyball nets and lifeguard supervision during high season, and you’ve pretty much just guaranteed yourselves a good, safe time for all.
Warning: Picnic Rocks sure may look close and pretty, but in reality, the dangerous rip currents challenge even the strongest swimmers. We absolutely advise that you DO NOT try to swim out to the rock.
Located south of downtown Marquette, where the big lake begins its long, graceful curve out to the east, South Beach is a popular summertime destination for families. The area is monitored by lifeguards on most summer days, and the shallow shelf extending out from the shore is great for supervised wading.
The beach itself is one of the county’s broadest and flattest beaches, making it perfect for stretching out in the sun. And it offers great views of Marquette’s southern hills and downtown Marquette’s skyline, not to mention the endless horizon of Lake Superior.
Little Presque Isle Beach
Head about 15 minutes northwest of Marquette, just off Big Bay Road, and you’ll find yourself at Little Presque Isle Beach. Despite its relative convenience, it’s definitely the most secluded beach on this list — perfect for a leisurely day or evening by the water. If you’re looking to chill out by the water this is definitely the coolest spot, plus there’s a ton great hiking to do right around the area.
Black Rocks Beach
True to its name, Black Rocks Beach is located near the famed Black Rocks formation on Presque Isle’s west side. The beach itself is only a few dozen feet wide, with several-story bluffs blocking access on both sides. But it’s the best place to prepare for an excursion — and, if you’re feeling brave enough, you can even jump from — the Black Rocks themselves.
Au Train Beach
Located about 25 minutes from Marquette, Au Train Beach is noted for its dramatic onshore scenery and endless water views. Au Train arguably has the best set of dunes in the entire central U.P. and is also super-convenient to reach by car: It’s literally visible from M-28, which is crowded with parked cars on nice summer days.
LAKE SUPERIOR SAFETY TIPS
Whether it’s your first time in Superior or a yearly tradition, the big lake can change quickly and must be respected.
- Swim where there are lifeguards. Never swim alone. Before entering the water, make sure someone knows you are doing so.
- Check the City of Marquette website’s beach flag advisory system before swimming in Lake Superior. Flags are put up at South Beach, McCarty's Cove, Middle Beach, and Picnic Rocks to indicate dangerous to highly dangerous rip current conditions. Also, check the National Weather Service's Rip Current Forecast.
- Rock formations are a likely place to find dangerously strong rip currents. This includes the Picnic Rock area, which is located on Lake Shore Boulevard, near the Lakeview Arena and a short walk from campus. Do not swim in this area. Move down the beach to McCarty’s Cove where lifeguards are located.
- Know how to “break the grip of a rip.” Learn more from the National Weather Service at http://ripcurrents.noaa.gov and see below.
- If you see someone caught in a rip current, going into the rip current area yourself is not the best solution.
- Strong winds on Lake Superior that create huge waves are amazing to see and photograph, but they, too, can be deadly. Do not go into the water or out onto the breakwall at Presque Isle Park during high winds.