The last traces of ice are officially gone from Lake Superior and the sun is once again shining from early morning through late evening. That can mean only one thing: beach season!
From pebble-studded expanses bracketed by towering bluffs to broad, sandy expanses with endless water views, Marquette County is blessed with a stunning diversity of beaches. As you plan your next beach trip in our fair corner of the world, consider these five gems.
Located south of downtown Marquette, where the Big Lake begins its long, graceful curve out to the east, South Beach is a popular summertime destination for families. The area is monitored by lifeguards on most summer days, and the shallow shelf extending out from the shore is great for supervised wading.
The beach itself is nice too: It’s one of the county’s broadest and flattest beaches, making it perfect for stretching out in the sun. And it offers great views of Marquette’s southern hills and downtown Marquette’s skyline, not to mention the endless horizon of Lake Superior.
True to its name, Black Rocks Beach is located near the famed Black Rocks formation on Presque Isle’s west side. The beach itself is only a few dozen feet wide, with several-story bluffs blocking access on both sides and a steep pathway marking the third.
But it’s the best place to prepare for an excursion — and, if you’re feeling brave, jump from — the Black Rocks themselves. A word of warning: The deep, crystal-clear pool just offshore is always super-cold. If you’re looking for a more temperate experience, South Beach is your style.
Located about 25 minutes from Marquette, Au Train Beach is noted for its dramatic onshore scenery and endless water views. Au Train arguably has the best set of dunes in the entire central U.P. — someone dropped here from Lake Michigan’s famed dunes probably wouldn’t even realized they’d been transported to the northernmost Great Lake. Au Train is also super-convenient to reach by car: It’s literally visible from M-28, which is crowded with parked cars on nice summer days.
McCarty’s Cove is another popular Marquette city beach. Tucked just north of downtown, along scenic Lakeshore Boulevard, it’s popular with summer-breaking NMU students and families with small children alike. Volleyball nets add to the experience, and lifeguard supervision during the high season ensures a safe experience for all.
Bonus: Great views of the iconic red lighthouse at the nearby Coast Guard complex. More distant glimpses of Picnic Rocks and Presque Isle complete the experience. Just don’t try to swim to Picnic Rocks: Even though they look fairly close, dangerous rip currents can challenge even the strongest swimmers.
Little Presque Isle Beach is about 15 minutes northwest of Marquette, just off Big Bay Road. Despite its relative convenience, it’s definitely the most secluded beach on this list — perfect for a leisurely day or evening by the water. (Biting bugs can be bothersome during the warm months, though.)
If you need to stretch your legs, stroll down its sandy expanse or wade out to Little Presque Isle, a rugged island just offshore. In the winter, you can easily cross the ice to Little Presque too. Once there, turn around and take in expansive views of the highlands north and west of Marquette, then snap some pictures of Lake Superior’s open waters before heading back to shore.