Lighthouses of Michigan

Lower Michigan and Whitefish Point in the U.P.
May 11-15, 2001


The website ran a poll on where people would like to see us go. There were several areas listed. The one that happened to have the most votes when we were ready to leave was Michigan. After doing a bunch of mileage calculations and timing, we decided that we had to scale our original plans down. I really wanted to get into the Upper Peninsula to see a bunch of those lighthouses. Time just wouldn't permit. So we decided that the only one we would get to see this time would be Whitefish Point . I really wanted to see this one, so I made the time to get there while we were at least close to the area.

We roughly planned out our trip. Our idea was to go from Niagara Falls, NY and drive straight through to St. Joseph, Michigan. This would be a lot of driving, about 442 miles, but it would work out alright and set the pace for the rest of the trip. Once in St. Joseph, we would work our way north up to the Mackinac Bridge, cross that, and go up to Whitefish Point. From there, we would head south, cross the bridge again, then continue to head south down the Lake Huron side. We had originally planned to head into the Detroit area, but by the time we got back to Port Huron, we were ready to go home. This trip was over 1800 miles, we had visited 42 lighthouses, and just about 30 rolls of film.

Day 1

Day one mostly consisted of driving the distance from Niagara Falls, New York to St. Joseph, Michigan. We left a little later than we wanted to, but that was alright. When we left Niagara Falls, it was nice....maybe in the upper 60s. But by the time we got to the first lighthouse, it was cold. What clued us into that was seeing people walking around in winter jackets. It was funny, I got out of the truck and the wind was blowing off Lake Michigan, and almost froze solid instantly. It had to be in the upper 30s, maybe lower 40s...and I was wearing shorts. Luckily I had a sweatshirt and a heavy windbreaker. Once I put that on, I was alright. I didn't need to put on pants.

The first lighthouse we saw was the St. Joseph North Pier Lights. We followed I-94 to the end and got off at SR-63, made a left onto Upton Road, then a left onto Prospect. Followed Prospect to the end, then made a left onto Ridgeway. At the end, we ended up in a park. In this park we saw the lighthouses. From here, we ate at the Lighthouse Depot and Brewpub which is just outside the park.

From here, we were headed north. We got back on to SR-63 and followed that until Coloma Road. we then made a right onto Coloma Road and followed that a short distance to I-196. We followed I-196 north for about a half hour until we reached South Haven.

We got off I-196 at exit 20, which is Phoenix Street. We followed Phoenix street west until Broadway. Once at Broadway, we made a left onto it, then a quick right onto Michigan Street. At the end, we saw the South Haven Lighthouse. Since it was close to 9:00pm, we stayed the night at the hotel just off the I-196. It was called the Lighthouse "something". I don't remember what it was now.

Day 2

The start of day 2 had us back on I-196 heading north. I believe the distance is about 25-30 miles. We cut off of I-196 onto US-31 north. We followed this well into Ottawa, Michigan. From here, we made a left onto Lakewood Blvd. Then we cut off onto Douglas Ave, which eventually changes names to Ottawa Beach Road. Once at the end of this street, we made a right onto Terrace Walk Road and followed that into Holland State Park. Unfortunately, the park was closed, so we ended up having to stand at the gate and use the telephoto lens to get pictures of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse.

From here, we followed the same streets back out to US-31 north. About 19 miles north, is the next lighthouse. We got off at the Elm Street exit and made an immediate left onto Ridge Road. We then made a left onto Lane Ave, another left onto 174th Ave (Grand Haven Road) and then a right onto North Shore Drive. Once at the end, North Shore Drive made a cut off to the right, (THIS ISN'T THE CORRECT WAY) continue to follow it to the left. Once at the end, you will be able to see the Grand Haven Lighthouses across the channel. From here, we headed back the same way we came in, except once on 174th Ave. we followed it a little farther north to Van Wagoner Street. We made a right onto that, and followed it to US-31 north.

We followed US-31 north until we veered (left) off on Airline Road. Eventually, we veered (left) onto Seaway Drive. We continued West on Seaway Drive until it changed names into Eric Ave. We followed this until we made a left onto W. Sherman Blvd. We then followed West Sherman Blvd. almost to the end, and then made a right onto Beach Street. Once on Beach Street, we stayed until the end where it led us to a great view of the Muskegon Lighthouse.

Instead of heading back the way we came, we veered left onto Lakeshore Street. We followed this until it cut off (right) onto Washington Ave. Then we followed Washington Ave to US-31 (Not the same US-31 that we were on before. I think this is a Business US-31) We followed this until it connected back up to the original US-31 that we were on before and continued to head north.

We were on this for about 12 miles or so to White Lake Drive. At the exit, we headed west. Eventually we came to South Shore Drive. Made a left onto that and followed it until Murray Drive. (Murray Drive is across the intersection.) We then followed Murray Drive for about a mile, and then made a left onto Beech Lane. This led us right up to the White River Lighthouse.

Upon leaving the lighthouse, we took a slightly different route back to US-31. We followed South Shore Drive back to the intersection of White Lake Drive, but instead of cutting off, we stayed on that street which changed names to South Lake Street. At the end of this street, we had to make a quick right and then a quick left onto Dowling Street. This street then changed names to Water Street and Thompson Street. We then made a left onto Fruitvale Street to get us back to US-31.

Once on US-31, we headed north again. We made a left at West Shelby Road and followed that for about 6 miles. We then made a right onto County Route B15 (16th Ave) which changed names into S. 16th Ave. Then we made a right onto West Buchanan Road and a left onto South 18th Ave. (IF I remember correctly, either Buchanan or South 18th Ave street sign is missing. But since we had the GPS, we knew what street it was anyways.) About a mile up the road, we made a left onto West Baseline Road, then a right onto an un-named road which lead us up to the parking area for Little Sable Point Lighthouse.

From here, we headed back out to North 18th Ave. and made a left onto it. We then followed this to the end and made a right onto Scenic Drive. From here, we followed this to West Hazel Street. We made a right onto West Hazel and followed that North 34th Ave. We made a left onto it, and followed that north. From here, we made a right onto Ridge Road and continued on north. At the end of Ridge Road, we cut across onto Longbridge Road and followed that back out to Business US-31.

From here, it looks like we went left onto Business US-31 and followed that back to US-31, but it looks like you could make a right and head out to US-31 a little quicker. So either way would be fine. Once back on US-31, continue north up into Ludington.

US-31 will end at US-10, we made a left and headed into Ludington. We followed US-10 up to West Loomis Street where we made a right. This will lead you to Lake Michigan and the Ludington North Pierhead Lighthouse. Upon leaving here, we took the second left, which was North Lakeshore Drive or SR-116 and followed that north into Ludington State Park.

From here, we had to pay an entrance fee to the park and got a park map. The ranger told us how to get to the lighthouse and that it was a mile and a half walk each way! You have to park your car in a lot and follow the lighthouse trail up to the lighthouse. At least it was a nice sunny day and wasn't too cold. Upon getting closer, you will start to see the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Then it was another 1.5 mile walk back to the truck.

After leaving here, we took SR-116 back out to the cut off of North Shore Drive. We then made a left onto North Shore Drive and followed that north to Dewey Road. (make a right) We then followed Dewey Road to the end, made a left onto N. Jebavy Road, then a right onto Angling Road. Angling Road then took us up to Fountain Road where we made a right and followed that out to US-31. We then headed north on US-31 into Manistee.

Once in Manistee, we took a right onto Memorial Drive and then headed down 5th Ave. (I believe this is where my directions are a little incorrect. If I remember correctly, we headed back into a little townhouse community and ended up at beach parking for the lighthouse. There was also a Coast Guard Base there. This will get you to the area and allow you to walk out on the pier to view the Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse. From here, we headed back out to US-31 to a hotel for the night.

Day 3

We started day 3 with a 31 mile drive north on US-31 to SR-115. We followed SR-115 until it changed into SR-22 (Forest Ave) right to the water. We then made a right onto 1st Ave and followed that to a parking area. From here, we could see the Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse. From here, we followed 1st Ave north to Beech Street. Made a right onto Beech Street and followed that out to SR-22. We made a left onto SR-22 and followed that north. We were on this for maybe 3 miles until we came to Point Betsie Road. We made a left onto Point Betsie Road and followed that to the end were we came to the Point Betsie Lighthouse.

Upon leaving here, we continued north up SR-22 for about 18 miles to the town of Empire, Michigan. From SR-22, we made a left onto Niagara Street and followed that to the end (S. Lake Michigan Drive) and right into the little park that houses the Robert H. Manning Memorial Light. After leaving here, we headed back out to SR-22.

We continued following SR-22 north until the split off of SR-109. We then continued on SR-109 through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. On the other side of the National Lakeshore, we picked up SR-22 again and continued on north. We continued on for at least another 30 miles to the town of Northport. From here, we headed north on SR-201 to West 6th Street and then onto Bayshore Drive (SR-629). We then continued on SR-629 to the end and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

After leaving the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, we headed back to Northport, then followed SR-22 south on the Grand Traverse Bay side all the way down into Traverse City. Once inside Traverse City, we made a left onto Peninsula Drive (SR-37) and followed that all the way to the end. At the end, we found the Old Mission Lighthouse. From here, we followed SR-37 back down to the beginning of the peninsula and met up with SR-72 / US-31. We made a left onto SR-72 / US-31 and followed that east.

We continued on US-31 north after the SR-72 split off for about 48 miles. We cut off of US-31 onto Park Ave. (left). We then made a right onto Grant Street and then a right onto Palmer Street. This brought us to a parking area for the Charlevoix South Pierhead. From here, we went back out to US-31 and followed that east again.

We eventually cut off at SR-119 and followed that for about 6 to 8 miles where we made a left onto Zoll Street. We then followed Zoll Street to the end and made a left onto Beach Drive. From here we could see the Little Traverse Lighthouse. Since this lighthouse sits on the grounds of a private gated community, this is about the best area for viewing if you don't have a boat.

From here, we followed SR-119 back but then made a left onto Powell Road. At the end of Powell Road, we made a left onto Hiawatha Trail which led us out to US-31. Once on US-31, it was about 26 miles to reach I-75 which we then took us up to the Mackinac Bridge and the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. From this vantage point, and with the aid of telephoto, I could also view the Round Island and Round Island Passage Lights. From here, it was back onto I-75 heading north into the U.P.

We stayed on the I-75 for about 20 miles until we came to the exit for SR-123. We would then follow SR-123 north for about 60 or so miles to the town of Paradise, Michigan. From here, We continued straight on Wire Road instead of following SR-123. Wire Road eventually changed names to Whitefish Point Road. We followed this to the end where we came to the Whitefish Point Lighthouse. This ended up working out great for us since we arrived just before dusk, so the light was on, but it wasn't too dark that it obscured the pictures.

We stayed for awhile and took in the spectacular sunset before heading back to the town of Paradise. We eventually started on our way back down to the lower peninsula. After about 5 miles, I realized that we were low on gas. After some quick calculations, I realized that we might not make it down to the Lower Peninsula before running out of gas. Rather than attempt to make it back to the lower peninsula, we turned around and headed back to Paradise. Since the only two gas stations in town were closed (8:30pm on a Sunday Night) we had no choice but to stay the night. We stayed at the brand new Best Western in town which was really nice. We enjoyed a swim in their indoor pool before heading to sleep.

Day 4

The next morning, we gassed up the truck and headed south on SR-123. Just over the Mackinac Bridge, we got off at North Huron Ave, which eventually changed names into South Huron Ave. This eventually changed into US-23 which we followed straight into Cheboygan. Once in Cheboygan, we made a left onto North Huron Street. We then took a right onto West 1st Street and followed that right up to the Cheboygan River Front Range Light. From here, we took West 1st back to North Huron Street. We followed that to the end, and saw the Cheboygan Crib Light. Also, from this area, with the aid of telephoto, I got a good picture of the Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse.

As we continued heading south / east along US-23, I saw the Poe Reef Lighthouse. So we pulled off to the side of the road. With the aid of telephoto, I was able to get a good picture of it. I was later told that you can get a good picture of it from within Cheboygan State Park. We then continued on US-23 for about 30 more miles until we came to the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse. There is a small sign for the lighthouse on US-23, so you have to look carefully for it. If you get to Forty Mile Point Road, you missed it.

We then continued south along US-23 for about 21 miles until we came to the cutoff for SR-638. We followed SR-638 to the end, and made a left onto East Grand Lake Road. We followed this to the end and came to the Presque Isle Lighthouse. After climbing to the top of that, we headed back down East Grand Lake Road to the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. At the entrance to that lighthouse, sits the Presque Isle Front Range Light. And a short distance up the street from the Presque Isle Front Range Lighthouse, sits the Presque Isle Rear Range Lighthouse.

After all that, we followed SR-638 back to US-23 south. We took US-23 south right into Alpena, Michigan. Right where US-23 south makes a sharp right, we continued straight into a marina parking lot. From this vantage point, we could get a great shot of the Alpena Lighthouse with the help of telephoto.

We ended up stopping in Alpena for lunch at Pizza Hut, and then continued on south on US-23. About 30 miles, US-23 intersects with Lake Shore Drive. We made a left and headed back north on Lake Shore Drive then made a right onto Point Drive. At the end of Point Drive, we came to the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.

From here, we headed back to US-23 south and continued on for about another 30 miles to Baldwin Resort Road. We made a left onto that and continued to Tawas Beach End Point Road. We made a left onto that too, and followed that to the Tawas Point Lighthouse. Upon leaving here, we headed back up to Baldwin Resort Road and out to US-23.

From US-23, we cut off at 31st Street and followed that back to Crescent Ave. Once on Crescent, we headed south to a viewing area for Gravelly Shoal Lighthouse. It was a ways off in the distance, but with telephoto it was enough to get a decent shot of the lighthouse. From here, we were also able to get a very distant shot of the Charity Island Lighthouse. From here, we followed Michigan Ave, up to Point Lookout Road, and then back to US-23. From here, we followed US-23 to the merge with I-75 South.

Once on I-75 South, we traveled for about 25 miles to exit 162. From here, we followed SR-25 into Bay City and made a left onto Scheurmann Road, and then followed this to Woodside Ave. We then followed Woodside Ave, and made a left onto Pine Road. From here, we found the Coast Guard Station and our viewing area of the Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse. After leaving here, we found a Days Inn and got a room for the night. It was still somewhat early, but the area that we were heading to next had almost no hotels / motels.

Day 5

We got up, had breakfast and then started east on SR-25. We were on this for almost an hour before our next lighthouse. Once in Port Austin, we continued straight on Spring Street instead of following SR-53 / SR-25 to Cliff Street. We made a left onto Cliff Street and followed that to a marina / viewing are for the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse. From here, we headed back down Cliff Street to Spring Street. From Spring Street, we followed south on SR-53 / SR-25. We then headed east on SR-25 (Grindstone Road) for about 9 miles to Woodland Drive. (This is what it says on my map, but I know we never found that street. Instead we found Lighthouse Road, and followed that back north.) From here, we found the Point Aux Barques Lighthouse.

After spending some time at that lighthouse, we were back on SR-25 south towards Harbor Beach. Once in Harbor Beach, we made a left onto Pack Street and followed that to the end. From here, we could see the Harbor Beach Lighthouse out on the breakwall. We then followed Pack Street back to SR-25 south. From here, it was about 30 miles to Port Sanilac.

Once in Port Sanilac, we made a left onto Cherry Street and followed that to the water. From here, we were at the Port Sanilac Lighthouse. It is at the corner of Cherry and Lake Streets. There is a parking area with a breakwall that you can walk out onto to get various shots of the lighthouse.

From here, we took Cherry Street back out to SR-25 south for another 30 miles to Port Huron. Once in Port Huron, we made a left onto Garfield Street which led us right to the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. We took a few photos from the different angles and then headed down Armour Street to Thomas Edison Parkway. From here, we arrived at the Lightship Huron. We spent a while there on a tour.

After the tour ended, we followed Thomas Edison Parkway to Whipple Street back to SR-25. We were on SR-25 for about 5 miles before it changed names to SR-29. We then followed SR-29 into Marine City. Once in Marine City, we made a left onto Broadway Street and followed that to Water Street. Once we made a right onto Water Street, we saw the Peche Island Lighthouse. With the viewing of this lighthouse, our Michigan Lighthouse Trip was complete.

We then headed home

From here, we had to get back to Canada to start our trip home. Rather than follow SR-29 back up to Port Huron, we took the car ferry in town across to Sombra, Ontario Canada. From there we followed the St. Clair Parkway (Which runs along the river) up into Sarnia. From there, we picked up Route 40B and followed that up the 402. We then headed east on the 402.

We followed 402 for about 64 miles to the 401. We were then on the 401 for about 30 miles to the 403. We were on the 403 for a while until it intersected with the Queen Elizabeth Way. We then followed that back to Niagara Falls, Ontario and then proceeded to head into Niagara Falls, NY back to home.

What a great trip this was. I am truly a lighthouse lover, but I was ready to go home after all this. I took 30 rolls of film, most were 24 but there was a few rolls that were 36 exposure. Developing alone cost me $294.00, but well worth it. As of this writing, all the pictures are up and available on the web. Please look through them. I hope you enjoy reading about this trip as much as I enjoyed it.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

This was the first trip that I used a GPS system on. (Global Positioning System) Let me tell you, this helped a lot. Not once on this trip we were ever not sure where we were. With my Garmin Streetpilot, I was always sure what road I was on, what city I was in, etc. The other thing that truly helped was I had mapped out the complete trip in Microsoft Streets & Trips, and then added all the lighthouse GPS coordinates into the Garmin Software. This was then uploaded into the Streetpilot receiver. I then printed out the written results from the Streets & Trips software so we had a hard copy to navigate from and used the GPS to reinforce the directions.

A couple of times we were off course and it showed with the GPS. At one point we were headed away from the lighthouse on a street and I could clearly see that on the GPS. I then knew that we had to head back the other way. Another time, when we were heading to the Little Sable Point Lighthouse, the written directions said turn left onto 18th Ave, we weren't sure if the street we were looking at was 18th Ave or not because the street sign was missing, but I took one look at the GPS and knew it was 18th Ave.

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