Gorgeous autumn days await
No one living on the Keweenaw Peninsula was surprised that USA Today’s #1 Readers’ Choice for the Best Destination for Fall Foliage is the U.P. The annual leaf show is especially gorgeous on our forested peninsula that juts into Lake Superior. Bright scarlet, golden yellow, fiery orange and deep brown leaves create stop-in-your-tracks vistas. Staying at the Laurium Manor Inn is the perfect launch for your autumn color tour adventures. Here are our favorite routes.
Close-by: Right outside our doors you can enjoy a refreshing fall walk through Laurium’s National Register Historic District. Along our tree-lined streets, you will see other mansions and large homes built by wealthy mine owners in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Another notable building is the Italian Renaissance Revival-style J. Vivian, Jr. and Company Building on Hecia Street. You can stop for homemade soups, high-stacked sandwiches and daily lunch specials at the Miner’s Café, 63 First Street. Ask us for a self-guided walking tour map.
Stunning Colors to the West: Traveling along the west coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula offers spectacular scenery. From the Inn, go northeast on Tamarack Street and take the first left on 3rd Street. Turn right on Copper County Tri/Calumet Ave./US 41 N. Follow US 41 north for 13 miles to M-26. Take M-26 west to Eagle River. Just before you reach the village, take a short walk to see Eagle River Falls. If it’s near lunch, drive to Fitzgerald’s, located on the Lake Superior beach, for award-winning barbecue and an amazing view.
From Eagle River, continue north on M-26, stopping at the Jampot to pick up monk-made wild berry preserves, jams, jellies, fruitcakes, muffins and more. Take a few minutes to see Jacob’s Falls before following curvy M-26 through the vibrant woods to Eagle Harbor. If you are a hiker, ascend the 3.4-mile trail to the peak of Mt. Baldy (Lookout Mountain) for one of the most stunning, 360-degree autumn views of the tip of the Keweenaw.
Continue north on M-26. Near Copper Harbor, turn on Brockway Mountain Drive. Wind your way to the top for what is arguably the best view in the U.P. You can see for miles. If there’s time, continue to Copper Harbor, find treasures in its quaint shops, enjoy a snack and visit Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. Retrace your trip to Laurium.
Beauty to the East: You will not be disappointed with the color to the east of the Inn either! Follow Tamarack Street southwest and take the third left onto Linden Lake Avenue/M-26. Take M-26 to US-41 and turn right. Go north to Lac La Belle to Mount Bohemia Ski Resort where you can pay $10 (credit cards only) for a chair lift-view of their ski hills ablaze in color.
Another tree-top view can be seen from Bare Bluff in Bete Grise, located in the Russell and Miriam Grinnell Memorial Nature Sanctuary. Experienced hikers will find it a strenuous, rugged climb to the rocky bluff but the view is so worth it. From this 588-foot-high lookout, you can see colorful autumn forests, Bete Grise Bay, the rocky shore of the Keweenaw, the mouth of the Montreal River, the Bete Grise Beach and on a clear day, the Huron Mountains on the horizon.
Continue north on US-41 to Copper Harbor where you can take in the places described at the tip of the west coast tour above. Retrace your trip back to Laurium or continue down the west side of the peninsula.
Silver Mountain Color Tour: Going south along the east side of the Keweenaw is also a great fall day trip. From the Inn, go northeast on Tamarack Street and turn left on 3rd Street, then left on Copper Country Trl/Calumet Ave/US-41 N. Follow US 41 to Baraga. From Baraga head west on M-38 for nine miles to Silver Mountain. If you choose, take either the chairs or stairs to climb the boulder. This is a popular place to watch for migrating raptors in the fall, too.
We recommend continuing your driving tour to the nearby Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness accessible from M-28. There are a few established trails through the vivid aspens, sugar maples, birch and basswood. You will be mesmerized by the view of the rapids and falls on the eastern side of the gorge. If you’re an experienced paddler, bring your kayak, too.
Fall Color Tour Tips
- Summer lasts longer on the Keweenaw than in many other parts of the U.P. Lake Superior tempers our climate so the first two weeks of September are great for hiking, biking, shopping and beach time. The leaves will be predominantly green, but you will see a spatter-painting of color especially at higher elevations. We offer enticing rates, too.
- The leaf-show lingers longer along the coastline so you can take beautiful photos into late October. This time of year, Lake Superior puts on a color show with its gently lapping, sun-dappled blue waves to its roaring, slate-grey waters and frothy white caps.
- We joke on the Keweenaw that if you blink the weather changes. When packing, bring light jackets and fleeces, shorts and long pants, winter coats, gloves and hats. The warmer days and cooler nights trigger the color explosion in our forests.
- Oct. 31-Nov. 3 is the 41 North Film Festival at the Rozsa Center in Houghton. Stay at the Laurium and you will be a short drive away from watching recent independent films from around the region, country and world. Some screenings will feature discussions with filmmakers and there are opportunities to interact with producers and industry professionals, too. It’s free!
-Julie and Dave Sprenger
A 30th-anniversary gift awaits, too
It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Dave and I took a humongous leap and bought an unlivable, abandoned, boarded-up mansion in Laurium. We had first seen it while studying engineering at nearby Michigan Tech. University. When we graduated in 1983, we set our sights on jobs in San Jose, Calif. Still, we never forgot that diamond-in-the-rough mansion thousands of miles north. Then in 1989, call us crazy, we left sunny California and bought that fixer-upper in Laurium. 30 amazing years later, we are marking this milestone by giving you a thank you gift for being part of this magnificent mansion’s ongoing story.
The 30th is the Pearl Anniversary. If you stay during 2019 at the Laurium Mansion Inn you will receive a pearl bracelet. You will also get the bracelet if you stop in and take our $10 mansion tour. We offer walk-in tours every day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., from now ‘til the fourth weekend in October. If you will be in the area between the end of October and December, call ahead and we will set up a tour time. Hope to see you soon.
Sleep like royalty.
This past winter, while Julie and I were recharging in Florida, we found the most amazing, antique, king-size bed. Or should I say, KING bed? This hand-carved, solid mahogany masterpiece (believe me, photographs don’t begin to show the craftsmanship) was shipped from Hawaii. Dating from the 1800s, the bed’s carvings indicate it belonged to Polynesian royalty. Now you can sleep like royals in Room #2.
The large Allouez Room is the perfect new home for this bed with its canopy towering 8-½ feet high. The carved crown on the headboard and the canopy’s guardian cherubs hold stories of a royal past. Accompanying the bed is an intricately carved, 1800s mahogany armoire and two large chairs ﹘ and still the room feels spacious. Like all of our rooms, it has a private bath.
The Allouez was originally the bedroom for the Hoatson’s two oldest daughters, Gertrude and Gussie. It has two windows. One overlooks Tamarack Street and the other our north yard. Just as the girls once did, you will appreciate the cross breeze. This is a popular room and the bed adds to its rich ambiance so please let us know soon when you would like your royal stay.
Wake up to deliciousness.
Mmmm. Betty is filling the Inn’s kitchen with the mouthwatering aroma of almond poppy seed pancakes and sausage links. Luckily for me, I will get to sample them before she brings the steaming pans to our dining room buffet. Betty has helped us delight our guests (and neighbors who are our willing taste-testers) for 20 years. She makes sure no one starts the day hungry.
Fresh is so flavorful up here.
As you walk into the dining room, you will be greeted, depending on the day, by handmade egg dishes, pancakes or French toast. On the days Betty fixes the Inn’s signature egg dishes, you might find pans of rosemary cream cheese eggs, Migas (Mexican tortilla scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese), orzo pasta eggs with fresh basil, lemon and Parmesan cheese, baked eggs with a Parmesan-herb topping or another of our specialties. We get our eggs, by the way, from a nearby farm.
On pancakes or French toast days, Betty might tempt you with the almond poppy seed or toasted pecan pancakes. There may be a regional delight, French toast made with Finnish nisu bread. (You’ll know when Betty is serving it because the cardamom aroma is so tantalizing). And my sister Cally and I developed crepecakes (a cross between a crepe and a pancake) that you can top with a cranberry-orange sauce. Yummm! On these mornings, Betty also sets out chilled hard-boiled eggs.
The buffet has pans of steaming sausage links or patties, ham or Canadian bacon. Plus there are sliced breads and English muffins with sides of jams, cream cheese and fresh butter. Our fresh-baked pastry-of-the-day disappears fast ー guava cream cheese puff pastries, rosemary pear upside-down cake, rhubarb or cranberry coffee cake, vanilla bread pudding with raspberry/dark chocolate sauce or top-it-twice pineapple/pecan/coconut coffee cake ー to name a few.
You will also find bowls of bananas, pears, plums, peaches, watermelon or apples (depending on what is in season). Plus cut-up fruit and homemade granola to custom make a yogurt parfait. In addition to the granola, there are two other cereal choices. And you can always keep your cup filled with fresh-brewed coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Deliciousness doesn’t stop with breakfast ーthere are evening treats, too!
After a day of hiking, biking or exploring the historic towns and shoreline of our gorgeous peninsula, you will be more than ready to re-energize. We will set out a plate filled with either our lavender shortbread, lemon basil or pecan fudge cookies. Or you might be biting into a pecan bar or a lemon melting moment. These tasty treats go perfectly with sharing your adventure stories on the porch or in the den by the gilded-tile fireplace.