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Category Archives: Chippewa River

This past weekend we made our first fall leaf peeping trip of 2012. This year we started a week early because we have had strong winds throughout the spring and summer and they seem to be blowing good this fall. Last year heavy winds took down many of the leaves just as the trees reached their peak.

Chippewa River

Our trip took us from Menomonie, Wisconsin north to Bruce, Winter, Park Falls, Fifield, through The Lac Du Flambeau Indian Reservation and on to Ironwood, Michigan. For the most part there were only spots of color. The Fifield are had some nice color. The Reservation is clearly a couple of weeks away from peak color. This is a bog shot near Fifield.


As we neared Ironwood on Highway 51 we started seeing much more color. Gile Flowage was our first stop. The color here was outstanding and will probably reach its peak this coming weekend. Unfortunately it was very windy so there were no good reflection shots be had. We then drove on to Ironwood to check-in to our motel. We had some time before sunset, there wasn’t going to be any, so we drove out to the Black River Harbor. There was some nice color along the way but as we neared the harbor there was very little color. Just as we got out of the car it started pouring rain so we made a hasty retreat to the car and drove back to Ironwood.

Gile Flowage

The next morning it was still cloudy so we drove down to the Presque Isle river in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The color along highway 519 was outstanding. This was some of the best color I’ve seen in some time along this road. Unfortunately as we neared Lake Superior the color diminished to the point there was almost no color. I suspect this area is several weeks from good color.

We decided to hike the loop trail from the harbor parking lot. We crossed the river and hiked up the east side. The water levels were low but it had rained quite a bit overnight so there was enough water to get some good photos. This was the first time I had hiked this section of trail. When we reached the South Boundary Road we crossed the bridge and headed back down the west side trail to the parking lot. By this time the sun had come out so it was difficult to get any good photographs.

Presque Isle River

We debated where to go next and decided to head for Copper Peak and take the ride to the top of the top of, what is billed, as the world’s largest ski jump. The ride to the top consists of a 36 story chair lift to the crest of the hill followed by an 18 story elevator ride to the “top” of the ski jump followed by a long walk to the actual top. The views from the top are amazing. You can view 2,500 square miles of the Lake Superior Basin. The view can include the Apostle Islands, Isle Royale and the Porcupine Mountains. Copper Peak is open on weekends during the fall color season. More photos from Copper Peak can be found on my website.

Copper Peak Ski Jump

This is a not to be missed adventure in the Ironwood area. Unfortunately there has not been any ski jumping for Copper Peak since 1994. At that time they started making changes to the jump to improve safety and disaster struck and most of the improvements were washed out in a violent storm. The non-profit group that runs the jump have been working to restore the facility to where it can once again offer competitive ski flying. If things work out they hope to offer jumping on plastic in the summer of 2014 and winter jumping the following winter.

Lake Superior Basin

After our exciting trip to the top of Copper Peak, my wife can’t stand heights and probably left her finger prints embedded in the railing, we headed back toward Menomonie.

Upson River

On the return trip we drove highway 77 to Mellon, Wisconsin. The color along highway 77 into Mellon was outstanding and should reach peak this next weekend. We then took Highway 13 to Park Falls. The color from Mellon to Glidden was also outstanding.



Last weekend we drove from Menomonie, Wisconsin through Northern Wisconsin to Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Chippewa River

The trip took us through Cornell where I took this photo of the Chippewa River from a small park at the edge of town.

Lac du Flambeau

We then drove up through Phillips, Park Falls, Lac Du Flambeau and on to Hurley. The leaves were spotty through Phillips. The leaf report said they were at peak in Phillips and north of Phillips but I think it will be later this week when they reach peak. This shot was taken outside of Woodruff.

Gile Flowage

They were near their peak around Hurley with some nice shots at the Gile Flowage. In some places the leaves were down from the strong winds.

O Kun de Kun Falls

We then drove from Ironwood to Bruce Crossing the trees were spotty with one hill at peak and the next hill green. We stopped to hike into O-Kun-de-Kun-Falls on  the Baltimore River north of Bruce Crossing. We have driven past this waterfall many times but have never stopped. As it turned out it probably wasn’t the day to stop. It was bright sunshine with the sun directly in back of the falls. In addition, a large group of students from Michigan Tech were camping at the waterfall. Late in the day we drove on Houghton highway 26. The trees were outstanding and at peak.

Sandstone Patterns

On the second day of the trip we drove around the Keweenaw the leaves were ok but will likely peak next weekend. Leaves on the Brockway Mountain drive will probably peak a week later. We typically drive the eastern shore of the Keweenaw on the way up. This photo was taken on a small pullout northeast of Gay. The sandstone rocks in this area are outstanding.

Lac La Belle

When we reached the small town of Lac La Belle we drove over to the public docks where this photo was taken. As you can see it will be at least next weekend before the leaves are at peak.

The drive along highway 41 into Copper Harbor was nice but I think it will be next weekend before the leaves are at their peak. We returned along highway 26 on the west coast. This area doesn’t have many trees that change color.


Returning to Houghton we then headed south on highway 26 where the color was excellent. The only issue was that some of the tops of the trees were bear because of the high winds earlier in the week. On the way up I noted that the trees in the Twin Lakes Campground look promising so we stopped on the way back. I wanted to take the traditional photo looking up through the trees but the space between the trees didn’t work so I took this shot of the sunburst through one of the trees.

The then headed over toward Ontonagon on highway 38 then on to the Porcupine Mountains on 64. It looked like the trees in this area wouldn’t peak for another week. When we reached the park we took south boundary road through the park. There was some good color but the peak will likely be closer to next weekend. We didn’t stop much because we wanted to make it to Copper Peak before the chairlift closed.

Copper Peak View

We made it with a little time to spare. The leaves were good but not as good as last year. The strong winds from last Thursday and Friday took down quite a few leaves. You can see that some of the trees have lost their leaves. The shadow in the photo is the ski jump. The good news from Copper Peak is that the international agency that governs ski flying has examined the jump. They noted the changes that need to be made to bring the jump up to international standards and work is progressing. Hopefully in the next few years they will have ski flying again at Copper Peak.

I know it is a bummer but we expect 40 mph winds later in the week. I’m not sure what this will due to the leaves.