From inland gems like Teal Lake to the vast coastline of Lake Superior, Marquette County has no shortage of water frontage. If you’re staying in the Marquette area during the warm season, you’ll probably find yourself at the beach near Picnic Rocks at some point. You may even make it to the famed Blackrocks area on the far side of Presque Isle.
But what if you’re looking for a Lake Superior beach that’s a bit farther from the beaten path? You don’t have to go far: Just a few miles up Big Bay Road from Marquette, Little Presque Isle Beach showcases the awesome splendor of the big lake and the rugged rises of the Huron Mountains in one secluded package. The area is a top hiking destination in all seasons, as well as a prime spot for sunbathing, relaxing, beach games, and (if you don’t mind the water’s chill) swimming. It’s even as decent spot for freshwater surfing, as indicated by this regularly updated surf forecast.
One note: Little Presque Isle Beach is actually located on the mainland, facing the island of the same name. Little Presque Isle is separated from the beach by a submerged sandbar that’s usually passable. (If the water is high, you can always swim, though you’ll need to take proper precautions.) This area is one of the first parts of the lake to freeze in winter, making it easily accessible during the snowy season.
Little Presque Isle Beach is more than a half-mile long, so it’s the perfect spot for a leisurely hike along the shoreline. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, strap on your waterproof boots and ford through the shallows to Little Presque Isle. There are several trails on the island, although you’ll want to opt for the circle route that navigates the towering, rocky bluffs on its shoreline. From one of several vantage points, you can snap pictures of Sugarloaf and the highlands of the Huron Mountains. If you’re sure-footed, you can descend the bluff on the far side of the island to reach a collection of massive boulders on its northeasternmost tip. Birds of prey often nest and hunt here, so you may be in for a wildlife-viewing treat as well.
With towering pines and human-scale rock formations scattered about its perimeter, Little Presque Isle Beach is welcoming yet secluded. On sunny summer days, it’s a great place to spread out a towel and soak up the rays. Kayakers routinely pass through the shallows here or use the beach’s margins as a launching point. For swimmers, some rocks near the southeastern corner of the beach offer a convenient and relatively safe destination. When it’s particularly busy, you might even stumble upon a friendly game of pickup beach volleyball. And during the fall, it’s hard to beat the nearby foliage display.
Traffic at Little Presque Isle definitely slows down in the cold season, but the area’s meandering trails (and smooth beach) make it a prime destination for snowshoers and Nordic skiers. Though steeps of the island itself may be too challenging for novices, experienced snowshoers can give it a go. The beach area is suited to folks of all skill levels. Depending on how hard the lake has frozen, you might be able to venture a significant distance in either direction, blazing a trail parallel to the shore.
Little Presque Isle Beach is about 15 minutes by car from the center of Marquette. To get there, drive up Big Bay Road (County Road 550) until you see the signs, then turn right and follow the forest road for half a mile or so. You’ll come to a fairly large parking lot that should have space on all but the nicest days. If you need overflow parking, there’s a lot farther back, near Big Bay Road, and a smaller one on the opposite side of Big Bay Road as well. From the main lot, you can almost see Little Presque Isle Beach through the trees. Just choose one of the paths that head north through the woods.