Exploring the Keweenaw’s Bare Bluffs and Montreal Falls

From the top of Bare Bluffs, the tip of the Keweenaw is a lovely site. (Jamie Frontiera photo)

Story by Debrorah Frontiera
Last summer, I reported on some wonderful hiking trails in the Sturgeon River Gorge. This year, I’d like to take you almost to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula to Bare Bluffs and Montreal Falls. The two trails are fairly close to each other in the Lac Labelle/Bete Gris area. To reach them, follow US41 north from Calumet. A short distance past Delaware, you’ll reach a fork in the road; go to the right toward Lac Labelle. You’ll pass Mt. Bohemia ski area before reaching the tiny hamlet of Lac Labelle and upon reaching it, take the left fork along the Bete Gris road. Follow this about three miles past the bank of mail boxes on the left side of the road until you come to a dirt road leading up to your left—Smith Fisheries Rd.
Smith Fisheries Rd. is labeled a “private road” and there are a few summer residences branching off from it, but no one objects to vehicles heading for the two hiking areas. It is a rough road and, in some places, only one lane wide but quite passable. You will reach the Bare Bluffs site first about three miles along the road, on your right, and find a small parking area. Bare Bluffs is a Michigan Nature Association sanctuary. MNA is a wonderful nonprofit group that has preserved many areas of the state for the enjoyment of all.
The beginning of the hike is easy and passes through lovely meadow where there is almost always something blooming. Then you reach a point where the path forks upward or continues into more meadow. This is the beginning of a three-mile loop. On my first trip there, I was alone. Hikers on their way out told me that the uphill path was easier, and that from the top, I’d choose to continue around the loop (the “back side” of which was said to be quite difficult) or come back down the way I’d gone up. The distance was about the same either way…

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