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South Shore Lake Superior in Michigan

Trip Overview

This is a fantastic day trip with any size canoe or kayak- the beautiful and desolate south shore of Lake Superior north and east of the hamlet of Deer Park, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

There are literally miles and miles of desolate (and rocky) coast line to view and explore. Put in just north of Muskallonge Lake State Park, and paddled eastward along the very scenic coastline for several miles. Landed at a forest of driftwood for lunch, explored the high grassy and sandy dunes and forested area nearby. The Lake Superior Trail parallels this scenic area for many miles. Didn't see any sign of people, houses, roads or anything. Very remote area with no settlements near the coast until you reached Two Hearted River camp, but that isn't saying much.

The lake was relatively calm at put in, about 1 foot surf and very rocky, but unbelievably clean and clear water. I used a small rec. boat, a Perception Swifty 3.1 for my outing. I had about 20 lbs. of gear in a dry bag, and my kayak partner Bob (also in a Swifty) set out on our Lake Superior adventure. Once beyond the surf zone, we paddled eastward with ease, noting the lack of anyone or anything around us but silence, sunshine and beauty. The water was so clear that we could easily discern the sandy bottom until it went to a dark blue at the edge of the depths. The wind was picking up, coming off the lake at our backs and we noted that the surf seemed a bit noisier, but we weren't concerned out in the relative light chop beyond the breakers. When we decided to turn for land, we had a blast surfing in on a big wave that carried us right up to the smaller pebbles on shore. It was good to get out and survey this windswept and desolate area. We wondered if anyone had been there in months, if not years. There were no human footprints anywhere, just lots of driftwood and beautiful wild flowers everywhere. There weren't even any bugs. I can't remember when I have enjoyed the Lake Superior shoreline more.

After a quiet lunch and walk, we decided to make our way back to the boats. Upon arrival at the boats, we noticed immediately that the surf had increased to about 2 to 3 foot breakers at the shore. This was a real test to time getting into the boat and launching away from the shore between breakers. Bob got underway like a magician, while I found out what it felt like to be in a washing machine on full cycle! A huge wave broke right on top of me as I sat in my boat I was immediately drenched and my boat was almost swamped. I had to empty the boat and try again. Now I was cold and wet, but I found a break and went for it. I took on about 20 gallons of water on my second attempt and made it far enough out that I could again paddle with some ease. Now the winds were about 25 mph and hitting us broadside. There were beautiful wave pyramids pushing up all around us from rebounding waves against the shore. We struggled to paddle out further and then found the waves acceptable to paddle back.

This trip would have been much more fun in a larger sea/touring kayak or long canoe. But on a calm day, any size canoe or kayak would be adequate to explore this remote area of Luce County with little difficulty. I gave this trip a difficulty factor of moderate because it was a bit of a challenge in a small rec. boat such as I was using.

If you are looking for a place to really get away from it all, this would be one of them. If you do come to this area, please take out everything that you brought in. It is a clean and scenic wonder that few have seen.


Muskallonge State Park is fully modern park with full hookups, but caters to tent and trailer camping and has access to gorgeous Lake Muskallonge and Lake Superior. Deer Park has a fully stocked grocery and ice. 22 mile drive to Grand Marais Michigan. Quaint town right on Lake Superior. Many places to put in along Lake Superior shore between Muskallonge Lake and Grand Marais. Paved road ends just beyond park, next 22 miles dirt road.


Day fee is required to park your vehicle on park grounds. Regular State Park fee required for campers.


From Newberry, drive N on M123 to the town of Four Mills Corner, turn L on County 407 (H37)W and then northerly 37 miles to Muskallonge State Park, just north of Deer Park. Paved road all the way, and beautiful drive.


Found this beautiful area by accident. No books I have seen ever mention or talk about this rugged coastal area.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip