Most whitewater enthusiasts are well aware of the adventures that await them down the Menominee River at Piers Gorge. But you don't need a life jacket and a paddle to enjoy the simple beauty of Piers Gorge State Park.
Only minutes away from the town of Norway, Piers Gorge State Park offers spectacular views of some of the best waterfalls and rapids that the Menominee River has to offer. The out-and-back hike from the trailhead to the fourth pier is home to a variety of wildlife including deer, squirrel and there have even been occasional bear and wolf sightings.
But that's not all. There's prime fishing in these waters, including sturgeon and walleye. That's probably why the gorge and park offer choice bird watching, including some of North Americaâ??s famous predatory birds like the bald and golden eagles and the osprey.
Itâ??s easy to lose track of time and spend the entire day in relative isolation, enjoying Mother Natureâ??s splendor. Just ask Dennis LaFaive who walks the park every day. He strolls the trail every day and says that at one time, he used to jog the trial.
The 2.6 mile moderate hike is perfect whether you simply want to stretch your legs or you're looking for something a little more magical. Dennis LaFaive brought his wife to the park to show off the beauty of Upper Michigan, more than thirty years ago. â??When we were first going together, I brought her up from Lower Michigan to show her the Piers Gorge, and she always said that's how she fell in love with me.â??
There's plenty of history there, too. The forth pier marks the beginning of the Great Sand Portage Trail where, legend has it, Native Americans wore the rocks into sand because of the countless times they used the trail to portage around the whitewater. It still gets used today.
I ran into Richard Brad, a Marquette resident, while I was visiting the park. He was trying to portage his solo canoe across the 1.3 mile trail. He had this to say, â??I love the U.P. so much I decided I want to see the whole shoreline. And I love canoeing. So I designed a boat that I could take on the Great Lakes comfortably with a sail, rudder, and headlights for traveling at night. I started this trip on US-2 on the Brule just south of Crystal Falls and I'm going to Menominee. It's 110 miles with 11 portages, 9 dams, two waterfalls!"
Perhaps this weekend, you can make time to take in the peak fall colors at what I like to call â??Piers Gorgeousâ?? and see for yourself why Dickinson County is someplace special.Please remember, you must have a DNR recreation pass in order to park your vehicle at the trail head parking lot.