By Adrienne Bozic, MNA Regional Stewardship Organizer – Eastern Upper Peninsula
On Saturday, June 29, ten MNA members from across Michigan traveled to the Eastern Upper Peninsula to kayak the tranquil waters and see the beautiful Les Cheneaux Islands, under the expert guidance of Jess Hadley of Woods and Water Ecotours. The Les Cheneaux area lies east of the Mackinac Bridge along the northern shore of Lake Huron. Translated as “the channels” in French, the islands are glacially-formed rocky fingers of limestone, sand, and gravel that stretch out southeast into Lake Huron. The sheltered bays and channels around these landforms make for ideal boating since small craft are protected from the Great Lakes’ winds and much bigger waves.
An unpretentious treasure of the eastern Upper Peninsula, the Les Cheneaux area showcases 36 rocky islands, showy wildflower meadows, old-growth forests and diverse wetlands. Much of the area is protected by a number of nature preserves and conservation easements, including several MNA sanctuaries.
In addition to the spectacular natural scenery, the region has hosted a long history of boating, exploration, trade, and tourism. Charming cottages, old-timey storefronts, historic harbors, and local character all define the Les Cheneaux area and add to its laid-back charm. The area’s fishing, natural beauty, and tranquility have attracted artists, academics, anglers and unique personalities from many walks of life, many of whom have been returning for generations.
MNA’s six-hour kayak tour included equipment sizing and fitting (all equipment was provided), beginner-level kayak instruction, a homemade picnic lunch, and a scenic tour through some of the islands near Hessel.
We had wonderful views of Marquette Island, Long Island, and Birch Island, with interesting local lore, facts and history provided by Jess. The islands have been a popular resort and boating incdestination for over a century, and Woods and Water is actively involved in promoting responsible, low-impact, silent sport ecotourism throughout the region.
MNA will host another kayak adventure through the Les Cheneaux Islands on Saturday, August 17. Trips are limited to 10 people. To make your reservation, contact Jessie Hadley at (906) 484-4157 or info@WoodsWaterEcotours.com. See the MNA website for more information.