Menominee Historic Waterfront District | Bailey Park and West Shore Fishing Museum
Cedar River Area | Portage Marsh | Ludington Park Area | Downtown Escanaba
U.P. State Fairgrounds | Van Cleve Park Area | City of Gladstone | Planning Tips
The tranquil beauty of the Hidden Coast is what makes this route special. The U.P. Hidden Coast Recreation Route stretches to explore sandy beaches, pristine wilderness, and historic towns along the northwestern coast of Lake Michigan. It stretches sixty-four miles along the western shoreline of Lake Michigan in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Your journey starts on US-41 in the City of Menominee and then follows M-35 and US-2 north along the shore of Bay de Noc to Gladstone where the route ends. Along the way travelers will encounter scenic vistas, cultural sites, and a wide selection of year-round recreational opportunities. The 64 mile route meanders between water and wilderness and provides travelers with a sample of the best that the Upper Peninsula has to offer.
Like many areas of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the area surrounding the Hidden Coast of Menominee and Delta Counties is thick in history and heritage. The first pathway along the modern M-35 roadway was the Sault and Green Bay Trail, an old Native American trail, between Menominee and Escanaba. Native American tribes once lived along rivers and coastlines. Earliest European settlers fished the great bay and worked in the forests as sawmills began to develop. Today, historic markers and museum sites along the route tell visitors the history of the region.
City of Menominee Historic Waterfront District
The first leg of the route, north on US-41, begins at the City of Menominee, a gateway community for visitors arriving from Wisconsin. The name Menominee is derived from the Algonquin language and the area was once home to a community of Native Americans. Downtown Menominee is located on Green Bay at First Street and 10th Avenue. Visitors to the district will see turn of the century architecture and enjoy visiting the many specialty shops, antique shops, restaurants, and art galleries in the area. The area also hosts monthly public events, such as concerts and festivals, which are geared to visitors of all ages.
Travelers can also explore Menominee’s rich history of logging and industrial heritage by visiting the County Heritage Museum. Stop by the Logging and Heritage Festival that take place each July to take part in festivities that celebrate the unique history of the area. Drive over to the Menominee River and you may catch a glimpse of a new combat ship made by Marinette Marine.
In addition to the commercial district, be sure to take advantage of one of Menominee’s many outdoor recreational opportunities. There are beaches, parks, and marinas that provide locations for fun-seekers to boat, swim, or fish. Adjacent to the downtown area is the Great Lakes Memorial Marina and Park. The marina has ample amenities for boaters, including ramp for boats of all sizes. The park also provides many visitor comforts including public restrooms, picnic tables, and a children’s playground. Nearby, the Veterans Memorial Park that offers visitors a guarded swimming area with volleyball nets and picnic tables. Visitors may also enjoy strolling or fishing along the Menominee North Pier that is also the site of an historic lighthouse.
On your way out of town, stop for a round of golf with beautiful views of Lake Michigan at the North Shore Golf Club.
Bailey Park and the West Shore Fishing Museum
From Menominee, head north along M-35 about 13 miles to find Bailey Park and the West Shore Fishing Museum. The park offers visitors has a view of Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula as well as 4,800 feet of scenic sand beaches and dunes along on the Green Bay shore. Stop for a swim in Lake Michigan or a picnic in the park with unsupervised swimming, a picnic area, vault toilet, boating and fishing on 74 primitive pristine acres. In addition, the museum provides park visitors with exhibits on the culture and history of the fishing industry in the region. The museum building is located in the restored Bailey house and was once the site of a commercial fishery.
Cedar River Area
Continuing north on M-35, travelers will come to the small town of Cedar River. This historic town was once home to the Potawatomi Indian Tribe. In the 19th century Cedar River was a timber industry boomtown and was the site of lumber and shingle mills. The old Catholic church along the highway serves as a reminder of the town’s past. Travelers seeking to learn more about the Native American History of the area should seek out the Hannahville Indian Museum located about 25 miles north of Cedar River in Hannahville. Today, Cedar River is the site of a state harbor which has many services for boaters, and also has a picnic area with grills, a dog run, and horseshoe pits.
The Cedar River area also has fun in store for travelers seeking adventure. The Cedar River is a popular spot for fishing as well as for kayakers and canoeists to paddle and explore the scenery and wildlife. The Forest Islands ORV trailhead can be accessed off the U.P. Hidden Coast Recreation Route, just south of the Cedar River Bridge in the community of Cedar River. The trail offers over 30 miles of interconnected trails traversing through the Escanaba River State Forest.
Cedar River is also home to a Fox Park, a stretch of sandy shoreline that is perfect for swimming. The park also has beachside campsites.
Located just south of Cedar River is J.W. Wells State Park. The park is an ideal resting spot for travelers seeking to relax and unwind. Stop for a swim along sandy beaches or hike through forest trails in the summer. Visit during winter months for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice-fishing. The park has many amenities for travelers, including rustic cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. From Cedar River, travel north to Co Rd 551 and follow it just a few miles west to the Cedar River North Campground. This rustic park is located on the shores of the Cedar River and is ideal for launching a
canoe or kayak into the river. The park also has an 8 mile trail through the forest that is suitable for hiking, mountain biking, or cross-country skiing during the winter.
About 20 miles north of Cedar River, at the very southern tip of the city of Escanaba, a short detour off of the byway will take you to a 600-acre coastal wetland known as Portage Marsh. The marsh is a must-see for nature lovers and is home to a wide variety of bird species and other wildlife. Visitors can access the marsh from Portage Point Road. A one-half mile of raised dike provides hikers with an elevated foot-trail through cattail marsh and shrub thicket. This dike affords an excellent view of Portage Bay and gives easy access to the sand beach on the south side of Portage Point. Canoes, duck boats and other small watercraft can be launched into Portage Bay from this location, but there are no developed launch facilities, toilets.
Ludington Park Area
Ludington Park is located just off of the route along the Lake Michigan shore and is an ideal family resting stop. It is comprised of 120 beautiful lakeside acres nestled between Escanaba’s downtown and Little Bay de Noc. is Ludington Park. The park is 120 acres filled with amenities. The park features a full Marina, and many additional recreation opportunities for young and old, and is a perfect picnic destination. Visitors should cross the bridge to Aronson Island which is connected to the park via a bridge where they will find a guarded public beach, a natural area, bathhouse, small playground, fishing pier and boat launch.
The Karas Memorial Bandshell, located in the park, has weekly performances during the summer. The main attraction for kids at the park is the Harbor Hideout Playground Complex, is a 22,500 square foot children’s adventure facility/play area. This playground is suitably designed for children of all ages, is barrier-free and is a must-see for all children. Visitors to the park can also explore the area’s paved walking and jogging path and includes a non-motorized path or meet up with friends for tennis, courts, sand volleyball, a basketball court, or a round of disc golf. The park also contains picnic areas, a pavilion and restrooms. The Karas Memorial Bandshell, also located in the park, holds free weekly outdoor music performances on summer evenings.
The Ludington Park marina has 165 boat slips, docks, and moorings with designated seasonal and transient berthings. The marina includes amenities such as a state-of-the-art harbor service building, complete with restrooms, showers, and laundry accommodations which was constructed in 2000. The park is also home to the Sand Point Lighthouse and the Delta County Historical Museum are both located in the Ludington Park Area. The historic lighthouse has been restored to its original 1868 working conditions. The lighthouse is open to the public and during limited hours visitors may climb the tower. Offshore, a green buoy shows divers the location of the wreckage of the steamer Nahant, which is also a dive site.
The museum holds information about Escanaba’s first pioneers, European settlers, the railroads, and local timber industry, and maritime history.
Be sure to stop by historic downtown Escanaba to grab a bite to eat at one of the area’s charming cafes and restaurants. Sample local flavors at the brewpub or winery or drop into the Sayklly’s chocolates for some freshly made treats. Drop by the area on a Saturday or Wednesday to explore the local farmer’s market. Visitors will also enjoy discovering the many unique stores and antique shops as well as viewing the work of local artists at the Bonifas Fine Arts Center or other small galleries. Just south of downtown along M-35 is the 18-hole Escanaba Golf and Country Club that is open to the public.
U.P. State Fairgrounds
Escanaba is home to the Upper Peninsula State Fair, which has been held annually since 1928. The fair is the only one of its kind in the state and highlights the importance of natural resources and agriculture to the region. The grounds encompass 120 acres along US-2 and include a grandstand, racetrack, horse barn and riding arena, several livestock buildings and a pocket park. The pocket park, created by the DNR, has a wildlife display, teaching station, picnic area, stream and waterfall, and pond stocked with fish for young anglers to master their skills. The U.P. State Fair itself takes place every August, but the grounds are home to special events year-round.
Van Cleve Park Area
Located just off of the route in Gladstone, Van Cleve Park encompasses 62 scenic acres along the coast of Little Bay de Noc. This recreation area has a multitude of amenities for visitors of all ages. Facilities include a tot lot and playground, picnic areas, a multipurpose open field, restrooms, a beach house, two sand volleyball courts, one 20-station fitness course, and a swimming beach with a log rolling dock and a beach raft. The park is also home to Kid’s Kingdom, a 14,000 square foot playground. For visitors looking for a picnic location, This park also features a gazebo and a pavilion as well as a paved walkway.
Adjacent to Van Cleve Park is Gladstone’s harbor. It The harbor contains 36 slips and has many amenities for boaters, a pump-out facility, a harbormaster/restroom/shower facility, wall-side gas dock, small boat launch, grills, a large parking area and one mast hoist. The Gladstone Yacht Club, a social club with a liquor license and bar, is also located at this site. The harbor and has many events throughout the year open to transient boaters. Also adjacent to Van Cleve Park is the City Park. This 23-acre site provides facilities such as picnic areas, pavilion, multipurpose open field, softball field, restrooms, basketball court, horseshoe pits, and shore fishing.
City of Gladstone
Gladstone is located at the northern end of the route and is a haven for outdoor-loving visitors year round. The city is home to a nature preserve, located off of North 15th, street where visitors can view wetlands and wildlife from raised boardwalks and platforms. Located on the coast of Little Bay de Noc is the Gladstone Bay Campground. Here, travelers can camp close to the water and relax in a peaceful coastal environment. Winter visitors to the area should take advantage of the City’s Ski Hill that, in addition to skiing, also has tube and snowboard runs. The Forest Islands ORV trailhead can be accessed off the U.P. Hidden Coast Recreation Route, just south of the Cedar River bridge in the community of Cedar River. The trail offers over 30 miles of interconnected trails traversing through the Escanaba River State Forest.
The route has start and end points in downtown Menominee, Michigan and Van Cleve Park in Gladstone Michigan. The southern point of the route is the Michigan-Wisconsin border and northern point is the city of Gladstone’s northern border.
U.P. Hidden Coast Recreation Route
Distance: 64 Miles
Drive Time: 70 Minutes
Plan to Spend: All Day
Best Seasons: Summer and Fall