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Days River Trail

Escanaba's Hidden Gems: Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions

Ready to find some hidden gems on your vacation — those places locals know about but tourists rarely flock to?  We pulled together some of the lesser-visited jewels in and around Escanaba. Most are close to the picturesque Big and Little Bays de Noc, and others are a day trip away, but each will fill your stay with happy memories. Here are a few of our top vacation secrets.


If you are seeking a deeper connection with the great outdoors, Escanaba's lesser-explored trails offer an encounter with breathtaking landscapes and hidden wonders. Start with these two:

Running with a dog at Days River.

Days River Pathway Trail | Gladstone

Hiking, Mountain Biking, Snowshoeing & Cross Country Skiing

The Days River Pathway Trail is an 8.6-mile, multi-use gem that winds along the Days River through the pine, spruce and cedar ridges of the Escanaba River State Forest. Its first two loops are kid-friendly and the three additional loops are increasingly difficult. Mountain bikers thrill at testing their grit on exciting single tracks that branch from the main path.  Find the trailhead three miles northwest of Gladstone via US-2 & Days River Road.

Bay De Noc Grand Island National Recreation Trail | Rapid River to Munising

Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking & Horse Riding

Steeped in history, the 40-mile Bay De Noc Grand Island National Recreation Trail follows in the footsteps of ancient Chippewa along a historic portage route. The stunning bluff-top vistas of the Whitefish River Valley and forests transport you through the centuries and connect you with the land's rich cultural heritage and glacial terrain. ​​Near Escanaba, you will go through jack pine, red pine and aspen timber forests and grassy openings.   

To reach the south trailhead, drive two miles east of Rapid River on US-2 to County Road 509. Turn left (southeast) on CR 509 and drive 0.6-mile, turn left (north) and continue one mile on CR 509 to the trailhead on the left.

Maywood History Trail | Rapid River

Hiking, Snowshoeing and Outdoor Learning

For a truly unique experience, venture onto the 0.9-mile Maywood History Trail, where a 200-year-old hemlock forest harbors remnants of Native American sites and an old resort hotel complex. Here, every step is a journey through time, with interpretive signs bringing the area's heritage to life in vivid detail. The trailhead is accessible from the campground.


Sand Point Lighthouse

Sand Point Lighthouse and Historical Complex | Escanaba

The Sand Point Lighthouse offers a unique window into Escanaba's maritime past. Fully restored, it is furnished and has a fresnel fourth-class lens at the top of the tower. One of its nine lighthouse keepers was Mary Terry, one of the first women to serve as a keeper on the Great Lakes. Stories through the decades say that after her death, there have been sightings of Mary occasionally stopping by to check on the lighthouse. 

The Delta County Historical Museum also is on the grounds. It houses exhibits that retell the inspiring stories from our logging, shipping, railroad, military, Native American, surveying, sports, fishing and local business history. After exploring the museum, relax by the Little Bay de Noc in the adjacent Ludington Park or walk through the historic Ogden neighborhood and downtown.

Peninsula Point Lighthouse and Interpretive Trail | Stonington Peninsula

Another crucial beacon for safe ship passage on Lake Michigan was the Peninsula Point Lighthouse. A mile-long trail follows the shoreline ridges and shows historical and geographical features along the Big Bay de Noc. One of the most fascinating and unexpected aspects of visiting this site is that it is on the flight path of migrating monarch butterflies. Thousands of the regal insects use this point as a rest stop in late summer and early fall. It is an off-the-beaten-path experience you must see!

Bonifas Art Center Exterior

The Bonifas Fine Arts Center | Escanaba

The Bonifas Fine Arts Center, housed within a former church building dating back to the late 19th century, not only celebrates contemporary art but also preserves Escanaba's architectural heritage. Visit the galleries to see the creativity of regional artists and photographers, or attend one of the Players de Noc musicals, plays or special performances. You will be glad you did!


Escanaba is the perfect hub for day trips to some of the U.P.’s rare gems. Stay at one of our lodgings and head out the next morning to visit waterfalls in the central or western U.P., then return in the evening for sunset on Little Bay de Noc. Here are two waterfall suggestions to start your day trip plans.    

Piers Gorge | Iron Mountain

Piers Gorge, in the Menominee River State Recreation Area, gives you one of the U.P.’s signature untamed wilderness experiences. The entire state park has three waterfalls — Piers Gorge Falls in the north and Quiver Falls and Pemene Falls in the south. For the thrill of a lifetime, go whitewater rafting or kayaking over the gorge’s Class IV rushing, bucking rapids. There are guided tours with experienced professionals if you want to try it! 

Canyon Falls | L’Anse Township

Canyon Falls is easy to access along US-41. It is the crown jewel of waterfalls on the Sturgeon River. A mile-long trail takes you into the box canyon walled by unusual square-shaped slate ledges that appear to be man-made. Along the trail, you will see smaller waterfalls, including a 15-foot vertical drop that lures thrill seekers to cliff jump into the pools of water below. The reward for hiking is reaching the picturesque 30-foot waterfall. Have your camera ready.


Straying from the U.P.’s well-known paths makes staying in Escanaba more alluring. Book your stay now to get the amenities and rates you want, pack your sense of wonder and relax in our less crowded spaces. You will take home a treasure chest of happy memories! 


Tag #visitescanaba when you post photographs of your hidden gem adventures. We enjoy seeing what you discover and may post your photos on Instagram. 

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