This Midwest Destination Is A Great Spot For A Family Hiking Adventure

Finding a hiking trail that works for every member of the family is not always, well, a walk in the park. However, if you happen to be anywhere near Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we might just have found the holy grail of hiking routes. Allow us to introduce you to the fully accessible trail leading to the Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook, near Big Bay, which is suitable for everyone.

As well as offering stunning views over Lake Superior — the largest of the Great Lakes — and the surrounding forest, this inclusive route is designed to welcome all types of visitors. That goes for little ones, older family members, and wheelchair users. In fact, this particular route has the special designation of being ADA accessible — meaning it has met the minimum standards set by the Access Board under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The route is also dog-friendly as long as your four-legged friend is kept on a leash. 

So, if you're looking for a welcoming-all-kind walking trail that every family member can enjoy, this one is highly recommended. Now, let's delve into what you can see along the way.

A top spot to visit in the fall

First, let's tell you a bit about the wider region. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is most renowned for its three Great Lakes: Michigan, Huron, and Superior. It also takes in some 7 million acres of forest. Unsurprisingly, the peninsula is known for being an exceptional spot to visit in autumn. In fact, with its fiesta of fiery hues, it's often voted one of the top destinations in the country for fall foliage. 

Back on our family-friendly trail, whether in autumn or otherwise, visitors are assured of an enjoyable experience. Less than a ½ mile in length, the route only gains about 50 feet in elevation, so it's super-easy, making it suitable for little legs as well as long ones. Well-maintained, the path is covered with crushed gravel and boardwalks, so it's wheelchair-friendly. The trail follows a loop, too, which is always handy logistically.

On top of all that, the trail is dotted with interpretive signs to help everyone spot the plants, wildflowers, and animals along the route. This can be a fun activity to try with the kids — or even just for the grown-ups. Then there are those views. At the point when you reach the Overlook, Lake Superior, Big Bay, and Lake Independence can all be seen. On a clear day, you might also spot the Keweenaw Peninsula to the west and Granite Island to the east.

A perfect place for a picnic lunch

The other nice thing about this trail is its excellent amenities at the start and end point. As well as restroom facilities, there are picnic tables, so it's a great spot to enjoy an al-fresco lunch. On top of all that, there are no fees for parking, meaning you can take your time without worrying, so that's another win in our book. 

What's more, there is something close by that the adventurously minded will love, too. Across the Upper Peninsula, Down Wind Sports offers guided rock-climbing trips designed to help all family members aged six or more get to grips with the basics of the sport. The team there can also accommodate climbers with mobility issues, though it's advisable to contact them in advance to chat through the specifics. Then, once everyone has found their climbing feet, there are numerous spots across the area where they can try out their newfound Spidey skills.

So, in summary, this terrific trail really does have something for all family members. It's also only about half an hour's drive from the main city in the Upper Peninsula, Marquette, with a distance of around 26 miles. Whenever you are in the region, it's well worth making an effort to try this trail, especially knowing that no one will be left out.