The 13-acre Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve is a winter lover’s bliss—stretch your legs with a leisurely half-mile snowshoe through the woods of this pristine wetland. Protected by the U.P. Land Conservancy (UPLC), the Bayou acts as a critical stopover for migrating birds and is home to mink, muskrat, black bear, deer, rare herons, eagles and diverse plant life.

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Views at U.P. Land Conservancy

Photo by U.P. Land Conservancy

Access: Located south of Marquette in the town of Harvey, Chocolay Bayou is nestled right off the Iron Ore Heritage Trail (IOHT), which is groomed for snowmobiles. Those driving by car can park at the Michigan Welcome Center (2201 US-41 S.) or any other IOHT access point, and then ski, snowshoe or fat-tire bike in on the IOHT.

Visitors can also access the preserve via an entrance and parking lot off Main Street—UPLC tries to keep this cleared, but if the snow overwhelms volunteers and it fills in, visitors can instead park on the shoulder of Main Street (allowed by the township) or at the township marina, which is about a quarter-mile down Main Street and will remain plowed through the winter. Additionally, Lake Superior Smokehouse Brewpub encourages preserve visitors who use their lot for overflow parking to stop in and have a brew or a bite to eat!

(Note: Trails are not cleared at the Bayou, so snowshoes are necessary for a winter visit.)

Icy lake at U.P. Land Conservancy

Photo by U.P. Land Conservancy

Photo(s) by U.P. Land Conservancy