Driving Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Distance: 81.6 miles

In the Upper Peninsula, there’s never a bad time to visit and take a scenic drive. Every season has its own unique beauty and seems to tell a different part of the story about the land. In the wintertime, once-busy roadways and waterways turn frozen and silent, but no less impressive or breathtaking.

The two-lane Whitefish Bay National Forest Scenic Byway within the confines of the Hiawatha National Forest offers adventurers a remote driving tour that follows the shoreline of the mighty giant, Lake Superior. The scenic byway stretches 27 miles, 27 miles of what is considered to be one of the most beautiful drives in the state. Of course, since you’re so close to a couple other main U.P. attractions that should not be missed, we incorporated them into this driving tour on either end of the scenic byway.

Stop #1: Tahquamenon Falls

The byway begins at the intersection of M-123 and Lake Superior Shoreline Road (FFH42). You will have already been driving in the U.P. for about 50 miles since crossing the Mackinac Bridge. However, before you begin heading east on the scenic byway, take a short jaunt north and west about 12 miles to Tahquamenon Falls. Make sure you visit both the upper and lower falls, both of which are easily accessible and near parking lots. They are nothing short of magnificent, and in the off season, you’ll have the spot to yourself.

Backtrack to Paradise, a small town with a big, industrious past. Paradise serves as a base for many outdoor enthusiasts and travelers of all kinds to many popular attractions and trails. It’s also home to the Annual Wild Blueberry Festival every summer. Just south of Paradise is where you’ll pick up Lake Superior Shoreline Road.


Stop #2: Naomikong Point

A well-maintained and secluded trail is the Naomikong Trail, which is 3.4 miles long and connects to the larger North Country Trail. Located near Eckerman, this lightly trafficked out and back trail has features such as a lake and a wooden suspension bridge that crosses Naomikong Creek. It’s ideal for hiking, walking, spring wildflowers, and bird watching. Plus, it follows the shoreline of Lake Superior, so you’re never far from the bast view or the cobblestone beach (for you rock hounds).

The parking area has picnic tables and a scenic overlook of the lake, so it makes for a great place to picnic. Past hikers have recommended visiting the trail when the wind is calm, as higher winds – especially during cooler months of the year – can make the time spent on the trail unpleasant.


Stop #3: Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Michigan is well-known for its picturesque lighthouses, and the 1870-built Port Iroquois Lighthouse doesn’t disappoint. The grand white brick station building with its red roof and accompanying 65-foot-tall white tower marks the division line between Whitefish Bay and the west end of the St. Mary’s River, helping to guide ships in and out of the Soo Locks for more than 100 years. The living quarters are so large that it could house three keepers and their families.

The lighthouse is no longer in official operation, but in 1975 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings are open to the public Memorial Day through October 15, seven days a week, so that visitors can get a taste of what it was like to live in this remote wilderness. The grounds and boardwalk are open to anyone, anytime.  To see the original lens, you’ll need to visit the Smithsonian Institution. To learn more about the lighthouse, visit www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hiawatha/recarea/?recid=13342.


Stop #4: Sault Ste. Marie

Just 30 minutes from the lighthouse is the infamous Sault Ste. Marie and the Soo Locks. The Whitefish Bay National Scenic Byway concludes on the way at Brimley, but then you continue driving east on W 6 Mile Road until you reach Sault Ste. Marie. One side is the United States, the other side is Canada. Freighters and boats can travel between Lake Superior and Lake Huron via the St. Mary’s River. The Soo Locks, the “Linchpin of the Great Lakes,” is an engineering feat that makes it possible. You can observe watercraft and freighters making the journey through from Mother’s Day through mid-November. There are many vantage points as well as a museum.


If you’re interested in another U.P. driving tour…

  • The Cooper Country Scenic Byway, which is also located in the Upper Peninsula, is another one of the 150 scenic byways that can be found across the United States. Add this to your bucket list, too!