Originally Posted March 2011
This is the third and final installment in the 12 Locations of Light series–12 of my favorite places to photograph on Lake Superior. We begin this portion of the Circle Tour in Wawa Ontario on the east end of Lake Superior.
From Wawa Ontario go south on Hwy 17 for about 10 miles to Lake Superior Provincial Park. Proceeding south on Hwy 17 you will be in the park for about the next 40 miles or so. There are many photographic opportunities along this stretch of road. I will only have the time and space to refer to a few of my favorites. Beginning at the north end of the park and going south there is;
Old Woman Bay, a large sand beach bay with the outlet of the Old Woman River. Views of the steep hills surrounding the bay are best at sunset.
Sand River, several miles of hiking trail line the river inland from the lake. You will be treated with wonderful views of cascades and waterfalls, Lady Evelyn Falls is about 2-3 miles upstream and worth the hike.
Katherine Cove and Beach are very photogenic with a great view of the lake from the beach and rocky point that protrudes into the lake next to the parking lot.
You could spend a week or more exploring and photographing all of this park, at about 600 sq miles it is one of Ontario’s largest parks.
Old Woman Bay:
47 47′ 35.13″N
84 53′ 58.04″W
47 25′ 55.40″N
84 43′ 47.47″W
47 26′ 37.46″N
84 44′ 57.24″W
Back on the road to the US (border crossing at Sault St. Marie) we are now headed west along the south shore of the lake. There are many destinations that we are by-passing but space restricts us to only the highlights here. Our first stop back in the US will be the Grand Sable Dunes which is located just a couple of miles west of Grand Marais Michigan. Grand Marais is the largest town in the area and a good spot to base out of-although hotel accommodations are somewhat limited and for the most part very basic. A great place to eat is the West Bay Diner-it has the Youper character and attitude combined with good food-don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The best place to access the Dunes is north of Grand Sable Lake just off Co Hwy 58. From downtown Grand Marais go south on Hwy 77, about ½ mile out of town (before the top of the hill) you will see a gravel road on your right-Co Hwy 772, turn right and go about 1/2 mile where you will come to a stop sign and the road will join Co Hwy 58, proceed another mile and you will see Grand Sable Lake on your left, on your right you will see the dunes. Just as the road leaves the lakeshore you will see a wide spot in the road that works nicely for parking . Park your car here and walk back towards the dunes. You will see a number of trails that lead into the dunes. Pick a trail and start hiking. It is about a mile as the crow flies to the lake, allow an hour or more for you to hike up and down the dunes to get to the lake. It is worth the walk as there are many things to see and scenes to photograph along the way. Please note that hiking in sand is very strenuous, I would allow a long afternoon for this location. Best time is when the light is long in the early morning or late afternoon to evening.
Parking location along highway:
46 39′ 06.25″N
86 02′ 00.24″W
From the Grand Sable Dunes you can drive west on Co Hwy 58 into the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park. There are many locations to visit in this large park. Again I will only hit on a few highlights here. In the fall Co Hwy 58 is a wonderful destination in itself. The road is lined with maples, oaks, and other hardwood species making it a colorful drive. Here are a couple of other locations along the way:
Au Sable Beach, Point, and Lighthouse
The best access is from Hurricane River Campground. Park at the campground and hike the beach trail to the Lighthouse. There are three visible shipwrecks along the beach, you will see them from the trail. The lighthouse is also great to photograph. Both times I have hiked this trail I have done it late in the day, returning after dark, the light was great on both occasions. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight along for hiking in the dark.
On the west end of the lakeshore park is Miners Beach. This location is a great sunrise shoot. The beach has wonderful photographic opportunities at both ends. The west end of the beach has the Miners River Outlet. On the east end of the beach is a small unnamed stream that flows off a rock shelf and drops about two feet onto the beach where it flows into the lake-very nice. If you climb up onto the rock shelf that the stream flows over you will see a small foot path headed into the woods in an easterly direction. This path is only for the sure-footed and adventurous. If you follow this path about ¼ of a mile you will come to a rock overlook and be treated to one of the best views of the Pictured Rocks Sandstone cliffs that you can find anywhere on land in the park.
Au Sable Lighthouse:
46 40′ 23.13″N
86 08″ 20.97″ W
46 40′ 29.89″N
86 32′ 15.48″W
Our final location on our circle tour is the Keweenaw Peninsula. This area is very large and once again it has many photographic opportunities and locations. One could plan an entire week trip just to photograph this wonderful area. It is rich with natural and historic beauty. The Houghton/Hancock area makes a great base of operations. For the best Italian food check out Gemignani’s restaurant in Hancock. Here are two locations to photograph on the Keweenaw:
Old Quincy Mine
The Old Quincy Mine site sits atop Quincy Hill that overlooks Houghton and Hancock. From downtown Houghton take Hwy 41 north, the highway goes right by the entrance to the historic site. The Quincy Mine Site is a collection of buildings in various states of ruin. These are the remains of a once profitable underground copper mine. Today it offers great photographic opportunities. The sandstone block buildings are rich in texture, color, and history. Late evening to sunset is the best time for photography.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
From Houghton take Hwy 41/26 north to Phoenix. In Phoenix Hwy 26 branches to the left (west) follow Hwy 26 a windy narrow road for another 8 miles or so. In Eagle Harbor follow the signs to the Lighthouse on the west edge of town. Sunrise or sunset can be a great time for photography here. Either before or after your photography outing pay a visit to the Jampot a little country store run by Society of St. Johns’ Monks located just north of Eagle River. They make great cookies, jam, and fruit-cake, but watch out for the fruit-cake as it is liberally soaked in rum!
Old Quincy Mine:
47 08′ 39.50″N
88 34′ 05.89″W
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse:
47 27′ 34.61″N
88 09′ 33.38″W