The Great Northern Route

Between Escanaba and Manistique, US-2 broadens into a fast four-lane highway along both Big and Little Bay de Noc, where you’ll pass through a slew of lakefront “resorts,” some with their own beaches and all famous for their fishing. Between the bays, the landscape reverts to trees and more trees in the chevron conifers of the 879,000-acre Hiawatha National Forest. The flyspeck communities here haven’t changed much—ubiquitous flashing yellow lights, matchbox dwellings attached to bulbous propane gas tanks, and, in a few communities, forlorn old Soo Line railcars aging gracelessly on the tracks right off the highway.

Jutting south from US-2, two quiet peninsulas stick their thumbs out into Lake Michigan. Both have forests, fruit orchards, and a few lighthouses. The best destination here has to be Fayette Historic State Park, the extant ghost of an iron smelting community with a few dozen stone and wooden buildings kept almost totally in their original 1890s condition, not renovated but preserved in varying states of repair. The park is an impressive, sometimes eerie place, situated on sheer limestone cliffs along Hwy-183, about 17 miles south of US-2 from the crossroads community of Garden Corners.