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Land o' Lakes, Wisconsin
When people visit Wisconsin's northwoods, they want to stay. They can sleep beneath the stars and northern lights, swim in over 2,000 clear lakes, and hike trails with panoramic lake and forest vistas. There are waterfalls for swimming, rivers, eagles, wolves, moose, black bear, and wild raspberries and blueberries. Loons call throughout the night. Interconnected waterways offer ample opportunities for canoe trips. In a short drive or flight with me, they can be kayaking on Lakes Superior, Michigan or Huron.
The mystique of this region is addicting. In the summer and fall, there's no place else I'd rather be.
I am looking for two perfect places to spend six months of the year. I've found one spot right here.
St. Ignace, Michigan
The final approach into St. Ignace, Michigan's airport west runway is over the turquoise colored water of Lake Michigan. The quiet airport is scenically situated along the shoreline, and has a couple of vehicles available for use at no cost.
St. Ignace is a convenient entry point for numerous outdoor activities. To the north, the Les Cheneaux Islands, at the northern tip of Lake Michigan, are an adequate kayaking destination. Across the channel sits historic Mackinac Island, with an airstrip operated by the National Park Service. It's not an adventure destination, but in the fall, when most tourists are gone, a day on the island provides excellent biking and hiking options. No cars are allowed on the island, and transportation is by horse-carriage and bike.
The town of St. Ignace has a pretty setting, friendly people, and inexpensive accommodations right on the lake. Best of all, it's seldom crowded, even in summer.
Northport, Lelanau County, Michigan
Long, wide, and well maintained grass airstrips sit on a beautiful Lake Michigan peninsula. This is the pilot's gateway to Lelanau County in northern Michigan.
The area is home to North and South Manitou Islands, about 20 miles offshore in Lake Michigan. These wilderness islands can be kayaked and camped for days, while experiencing some of the most impressive sand dunes, beaches and hiking trails in North America.
Inland, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers miles of hiking on immense sand dunes with panoramic vistas of Lake Michigan. Many of these dunes are over 200 feet high, and I have hiked them for hours without seeing another soul. Bring a tent, wine, and dinner and experience a sunset from atop your private, sand dune skyscraper. At night in August or September, watch the northern lights shimmer over the lake.
The dunes are a geological phenomenon unique to this shore, and a very spiritual experience as the region is steeped in American Indian lore.
The Northport airstrip is quiet, remote, and seldom has more than a few aircraft, even during the peak summer weekends! Camp right there, next to your airplane, and you'll fall asleep beneath brilliant stars.
For the less adventurous, the towns of Leland and Sutton's Bay offer charming restaurants and lodging.