Coming to Marquette from a big city, the endless trees and few multi-story buildings may take some getting used to. Although Marquette is the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, it’s anything but a metropolis.
Try not to get discouraged by its size; school isn’t the only thing to do here. There are plenty of activities to keep busy, and the good news is many of them are free.
One of the most popular things students do in the fall is cliff jumping at the Black Rocks. Jumping off these ancient, volcanic rocks is practically an initiation into Northern and into Marquette itself. Just remember: Lake Superior is incredibly cold, so having something warm nearby is always a good idea. NMU Senior Holli Balowaara hadn’t jumped off the Black Rocks until this past summer, but when she finally did, she had quite the experience.
“It was about 80 degrees outside, but I knew the water below was icy and wavy,” she says. “My adrenaline was so high that the waves, the freezing water, the depth of it, or the distance to shore didn’t really matter. I just felt so alive. When you watch from the shore, of course it looks high, but you don’t know what it’s like until you do it. When you jump, you feel like you’re suspended
in the air, like time freezes for a moment.
It was awesome.”
With its rocky terrain, Marquette is a great place to hike. If you’re into shorter, easier trails try Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf is located off County Road 550 just a short drive out of town, and the trails give you a choice of an easy or difficult route. For a more strenuous hike, try Hogsback Mountain. Hogsback is also located on CR 550, but it’s a little more off the beaten path. About three miles down CR 550 you’ll see a small sign for Mead Pond on the left. Park there and you’ll find the trail leading up to Hogsback. A large portion of the hike brings you through thick woods and up a steady incline.
In addition to these two mountains, Marquette
has many other hiking trails. So many in fact, that a new view is guaranteed nearly every time a hike is taken. Chele Sproull, the instructor of one of the health promotion hiking courses at Northern, says her favorite places to hike are the trails off of CR 550. “The great thing about hiking there is I’ll start out thinking, ‘I’ll go around Harlow Lake,’ and before I know it I’ve gone there, over to Hogsback, around by Cabin #6, then along the lake on the Wetmore Landing trails,” she says. Sproull picks trails around Marquette to take her students on because not many people have been to the trails that are good to train on. Sproull went on to say that the routes provide good examples when it comes to safety and not leaving any traces of human interaction behind.
Marquette County is also home to several
waterfalls, some of which require a bit of travel to reach. Many, like the Yellow Dog Falls, Alder Falls, Warner Falls and Big Pup Creek Falls are around 20 to 25 miles away, toward Big Bay. The Dead River Falls is a popular hiking location for NMU students and is located only three miles away from campus. While in the area, you can also visit Reany Falls, which is in the same location.
Miles and miles of bike paths span through Marquette. Many of the trails run along Lake Superior or through lush, green woods. You can also bike around Presque Isle Park. Presque Isle provides a great deal of activities in addition to biking. Many students and residents of Marquette enjoy jogging, hiking and swimming here. Sometimes,
when a storm is about to hit, you can even catch a few of the brave locals surfing
at one of Presque Isle’s beaches. In the fall, Presque Isle is a grandiose picture of brightly-colored leaves, perfect for those majoring in photography.
All of the outdoor activities offered around Marquette cannot only provide entertainment
to students, but also serve to benefit students’ health. Professor Mohey Mowafy of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department says, “Being active is the key to being healthy, not only physically, but also emotionally, psychologically and mentally. It is also particularly important for those who need to enhance their cognitive prowess and mental focus.”
Northern Michigan University president Les Wong is no stranger to Marquette’s many free activities. When asked about his favorite free activity, he had many to list. “My wife and I like to hike many of the trails usually carrying my fishing rod and she, her camera. We also like to ride our bikes or run along the many paths in Marquette
and sit on the beach and read.” President
Wong and his wife also enjoy attending
student organization-sponsored events, such as films from Campus Cinema, presentations
The City of Marquette hosts several festivals
throughout the year. This fall kicks off with Seafood Fest, Aug. 27-29 at the Lower Harbor. The food costs money, but there’s live music and a classic car show you can see for free. Be on the lookout for flyers around town to see what other festivals
Whether you enjoy being outdoors, exercising,
volunteering or relaxing, Marquette offers plenty of activities that don’t cost a dime. Some you have to travel for, while others, like the beach, are practically right outside your front door. Take some time on the weekends and explore Marquette. You might just find something you really love.