Presque Isle- The Gem Of Marquette
If you have ever traveled to Marquette...my guess is that at some point you found your way to "the island". Presque Isle- or the "island" as true yoopers call it, is located on a 323-acre forested oval-shaped peninsula which juts into Lake Superior just minutes from downtown Marquette. Designed with guidance from Frederick Law Olmstead, the park was home to the last chief of the local band of Ojibwe people, Charli e Kabagum and it has been a favorite destination since the settlement period of Marquette. Without a doubt, Presque Isle Park is Marquette's most beloved attraction, offering residents and visitors year-round outdoor recreation opportunities literally minutes from town!
The park's jagged shoreline is more than two miles long and contains some of the oldest exposed rock formations in the world. Most of the park is undeveloped woodland including white birch and maple stands, accented with areas of virgin white pine and huge hemlock trees. After renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead visited Presque Isle in September 1891, he wrote:
"A park on this site can have certain natural advantages possessed by no other that I have seen."
Early residents of Marquette traveled by boat to Presque Isle, since there was a large bog north of the City, and the Dead River to cross just south of Presque Isle. Originally designated as a federal lighthouse reservation, through the efforts of Marquette founder Peter White, the Island was deeded to the City of Marquette by the U.S. Congress on July 12, 1886. White then led the construction of a road to the park that same summer. Five years later a streetcar line was extended to the park. Presque Isle Park is now connected to downtown Marquette by a bike path which is heavily used in warmer months.
The park supports over 100 species of native plants and diverse landscapes including pebble beaches, rocky coves, high cliffs, bogs, and old-growth forest. If you keep an eye out you'll be sure to spot one of the parks friendly deer!
What I love about Presque Isle is the vast number of high quality recreational opportunities it provides. Want to go bouldering? The Traverse is a boulder problem located on the black rocks and is a challenging problem situated above the crashing waves of Lake Superior.
Maybe Stand Up Paddling it your thing. SUP Paddling around the island offers a unique perspective as you gaze down 30-40 feet of crystal clear Lake Superior water at the rocks and lake bottom.
In the fall as storms kick up on the big lake, local surfers and kite boarders don their wetsuits and head out the the "zoo". The prime surfing area is located at middle bay close to where there was an old zoo on the island. For the best rides, surfers stay near the rocky shore to 100 feet parallel with the shore. After each ride they simply walk the shore back to get into position again. This is the cleanest break in around Marquette.
In my opinion the most aesthetically pleasing climbing in the U.P. is at the Pinnacle located on the north side of the island. Fluid moves on a slightly overhanging wall that rises out of the largest fresh water lake in the world....throw in a climb at sunrise and you'll see what I mean.
Convenience. That pretty much sums up the trail running and hiking at Presque Isle. The island is laced with trails that circumnavigate and criss cross the middle of the island. Peaceful morning runs or walks can easily take place before work because it's so darn convenient!
Want to paddle into the perfect sunset? Presque Isle certainly offers the kayaker the opportunity to do just that! Launch at Middle Bay and explore the many caves and coves located on the island.
When the wind and waves kick up you can be sure that a good portion of Marquette residents head to the island to see the action! Presque Isle is the perfect spot to witness how powerful Lake Superior is.
From skiing, snowshoeing, scuba diving, fishing, walking, picnics, and napping there is something for everyone at the island. So if you are traveling to Marquette this summer make sure you take time out to visit and recreate at Presque Isle, it truly is the gem of Marquette!