Northern Exposure: Exploring Grand Marais

Summer is finally starting to heat up.

With locals and tourists alike looking for activities to fill the time, ABC 10’s Northern Exposure series invites viewers on a journey exploring the U.P.  The latest installment visits a small town in eastern Alger County.

As you head into town and look around, you just know you’re going to love your time in Grand Marais.  Who wouldn’t love a town with a pickle barrel for a museum?

Usually when travel down a dead end road, you end up nowhere.

But visitors from Illinois to Indiana, found themselves at a picture perfect vacation spot, where you can stroll for pebbles or just soak up the rays.

“Our one son did some research and he thought there was enough to keep us all busy and it was the kind of vacation we would like so whatever he thinks is fine with me,” Muncie, Indiana resident Jane Schmottlach.

“Well we’ve gone hiking a lot and I have seen tons of waterfalls, I never knew there were so many waterfalls here, they are really amazing. You just have to come here with all the things to see and do,” Wixom resident Kelsi Schmottlach said.

“I’ve enjoyed the waterfalls which are spread out from here to painted rocks,” Muncie, Indiana resident Neil Schmottlach said.

The grandeur associated with Grand Marais is mainly due to the extensive list of picturesque outdoor activities, which include hiking pack backing, and playing on the water.  Many venture down the 170 steps that lead to the Sable Falls for a view unlike any other.

While you’re there you can also trek over to the sand dunes and log slide.

“The water fall empties into Lake Superior, 400 foot dunes, it is absolutely paradise. The giant dunes are so much fun to climb to the top. You can hang out, clay deposits you can sit on. It’s great looking around, you can see a part of pictured rocks to your left. We event went swimming, 52 degrees, no problem for Ann Arbor boys,” Ann Arbor residents Matthew and Carter Altruda said.

While many stop just to enjoy the beauty of the crystal clear waters, others take the adventurous route, climbing sand castles on either of the two sides.

For one adventurer, traversing the dunes wasn’t difficult enough.  He somehow managed to perfectly carve his name into the sand, for all to see.

The sand dunes are some of the largest and most rugged in the country.  While it takes about 15 minutes to make it down, it can take as long as an hour to hike back up.

“I love doing the dunes, my kids love the dunes climbing down to the very bottom, it’s a pretty steep climb back up. It took us about 10-15 minutes to get back up, we had a blast in the sand,” Grand Rapids resident Kraig Schmottlach.

“The logslide during the logging era, they had a ramp built and they would shoot the logs down to Lake Superior from the 200 plus foot sand dunes and then float the logs from there into the harbor. Today folks like to run or walk down the log slide to Lake Superior and climb back up. It’s a pretty fantastic view,” Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Acting Chief Ranger Bill Smith said.

Ending the action packed day at the Lake Superior Brewing Company with a freshly brewed cold one seems to be a pretty popular choice for visitors.

Named by French voyageurs in the 1600’s, Grand Marais or Great Pond, used to be used as a harbor of refuge.

Today, it’s still the only harbor of refuge between Marquette and Sault St. Marie.