Our Circle Tour

Monday, July 11-Tuesday, July 18, 2011. Our Lake Superior Circle Tour began with a very strategic stop at the Lake Superior Magazine (LSM) office (310 E. Superior Street, Duluth, Minnesota) where we spoke to the helpful staff and purchased Lake Superior, the Ultimate Guide to the Region published by LSM. This book was a helpful addition to all of the maps and tour books we received from AAA (Automobile Club of America).

Our first stop, recommended by the staff at LSM, was lunch at Fitger’s Brewery in Duluth, where we enjoyed a great lunch. We then headed north on Highway 61 toward Knife River and a small candy shop, Great! Lakes Candy. We recommend the two lane road to Knife River to avoid missing the candy shop.

We continued north to Grand Marais, were we spent the night with friends, after enjoying a great dinner at the Angry Trout. Day two, we enjoyed a round of golf at the Gunflint Hills Golf Course (9 holes), and a drive to the end of the Gunflint Trail. We found the Chik-Wauk Museum to be an interesting and thorough history of the area, including the logging past and the lodges that have been located there. We had a great lunch at the Trail Center Lodge. Ask for server Rhoda, who makes a world-class milkshake!

Off to Thunder Bay, Ontario, for the evening. Enjoyed lodging at the Best Western Nor’Wester, just south of town. Received our votes for best shower on the trip. If you are reliant on a smart cell phone, note that you will lose all coverage entering Canada unless you are willing to pay an exorbitant daily fee. Day three we enjoyed Old Fort William (Fort William Historical Park) and Kakabeka Falls, both near Thunder Bay, and beautiful scenery overlooking Lake Superior as we drove east, toward our biggest mistake of the trip.

Bypassing Rossport, Terrace Bay and Schreiber, we opted to spend the night at Marathon. Our strong recommendation is to stop at Rossport, Schreiber or Terrace Bay and skip everything about Marathon. Marathon and nearby Hemlo have discovered gold, and are quite industrial. Hotel and restaurant choices are subpar.

Day four, we left Marathon and had breakfast at Wawa, passing many beautiful, clear roadside lakes on our way. On our trip south from Wawa, we stopped twice in the Lake Superior Provincial Park at Old Woman Bay and Katherine Cove. Both were beautiful and a great way to get onto the beach.

We continued to the border in Sault Ste. Marie where we were randomly selected for a search of our automobile. We proceeded onto Paradise, Michigan, and spent the night at the Best Western, again, another nice accommodation. Dinner was at the Brown Fishery, a local, family owned establishment where the fish is caught in the morning and appears on the menu that night. Very casual atmosphere, and the best whitefish dinner we have ever experienced.

Day five, we drove along the coast to Whitefish Point and went to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum featuring a history of the shipwrecks in Lake Superior along the Lake Michigan coast and then climbed into the lighthouse for a view of the shoreline. Leaving Whitefish Point, we went to the Tahquamenon Falls, stopping to see both the Upper and Lower Falls. This is one of the largest falls east of the Mississippi and well worth the short walk through the woods.

We spent that night at Grand Marais, Michigan, fitting after spending our initial night at Grand Marais, Minnesota. Our hotel was the AmericInn, and was fine, but not nearly as nice as the Best Westerns we had experienced. It was, though, located on the water, allowing us the opportunity to search for agates on the beach, and walk to the end of the break wall. Note: This week, Grand Marais was hosting a Sea Kayak Symposium and the town was hopping.

Day six, we started early, and drove on H58, now completely paved toward Munising. Breakfast was in Van Meer at the Bear Trap Inn. We sat at the bar with six local bikers, and Kelly, our server, made us one our top two breakfasts of the trip. The road, H58, took us through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We stopped to see the log slide down to the shore, walked down to the Twelvemile Beach and took Miners Castle Road to a beautiful Lake Superior overlook.

Chasn & Mary Christian, Minnetonka, Minnesota