Beaver Island is a place of pristine wilderness and lakeshore, infused with freshwater lakes and breathtaking views from dunes and bluffs and roadsides.
Beaver Island is solitude, peace, silence filled only with sounds of nature’s abundance on wings of eagles and swans, in the call of peepers, crickets, nightjars and loons.
Beaver Island is a hallowed, quiet land where one walks among ancient forests, sentinel cedars, pines and ironwood trees with gnarled and...
... curving arms welcoming visitors and residents, holding a rich history of Native American, Irish and Mormon founders in their arms.
Beaver Island is a land of secret places on isolated beaches and trails where one can walk alone or with family and friends in safety and tranquility. Oftentimes, one can walk, cycle, jog or drive without seeing another person for miles.
At Barney’s Lake Nature preserve, nesting birds travel and cry out. If a human cry out, the echo travels over the woods and comes back to resound across the lake. Chirping birds, the slap of a beaver’s tail, a chortle of cranes or chittering of eagles can be heard in the air, on the wind.
One is mesmerized by 32 miles of Lake Michigan on the Emerald Isle ferry over 2 hours or by a 15-minute plane ride over blue waters and an archipelago of seven or more islands. Just getting to Beaver Island is a magic journey. One is emptied out into an airport in a field on a gravel road, or onto a dock near the beach into a quaint and charming harbor town. It is tradition to go straight to the point at the Whiskey Point Lighthouse and considered by some to be bad luck if you don’t go there upon arrival. Another ancient lighthouse sits atop a beachside bluff on the southern tip of the island, Beaver Head Lighthouse where the tower can be climbed.
The small town of St. James on Paradise Bay holds two marinas, one gas station, lodgings and private homes, several restaurants and bars, one grocery store, one hardware, two museums, one coffee shop/market, a community center, chamber of commerce, post office and several other shops and businesses along an approximately one-mile stretch of curved shoreline. Almost everything is within walking distance on Beaver Island or there are several places to rent vehicles or bicycles or kayaks.
Anywhere below the main four corners on the single paved road is virtual open road dotted with farms and homes and a golf course. There is one newly added glamping retreat, one coffee shop and Fresh Air Airport heading out to what is known as “the west side.”
There is also, an east side, a south end and a north shore contained in the 55 square mile area known as the Emerald Isle. These and other name locations let you know; one is in a friendly place where people still give directions by telling you name places instead of addresses.
Only in recent years has there been signage to designate nature preserves, natural areas, beach areas and trails. The 12,000-acre, Beaver Island Birding Trail is now marked with bright orange signs that mark lovely trails through forest or dunes and usually lead to heart-stopping shoreline views all around the island. Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan and a critical migratory bird stopover where birds frequently remain to nest.
Other signs point out Miller’s Marsh, the southernmost body of water on Beaver Island’s west side is named after former Beaver Head Lighthouse Keeper Harrison “Tip” Miller. Purchased by the Little Traverse Conservancy in 1997, this property was conveyed to the Central Michigan University Biological Station in 1998.
“The newly designated Beaver Island Water Trail is a 42-mile (68 km) paddling trail that circumnavigates the entire Island. While some parts of the Island (such as Paradise Bay and inland lakes) are more family-friendly areas to paddle, most of the Water Trail is geared toward adventure paddlers who are comfortable paddling in the unpredictable conditions of Lake Michigan and accustomed to rustic access sites and overnight beach camping. If you are a novice paddler, consider a trip to the Island’s harbor or inland lakes, or consider hiring a guide.” ~from website http://www.michiganwatertrails.org/trail.asp?ait=cv&cid=361
You will find residents and businesses casual, friendly and open to visitors. One might lend you a car or offer you a “boodle” around the island. Be not afraid, this is simply and opportunity to tour the island at leisure with a person who knows their way around and might tell a yarn or two about the island. A popular stop on such boodles is the “Big rock” or the “Big birch tree, “not to be dismissed.
Many visitors request directions to these two most unlikely popular destinations or more often, the local toy store. There is nothing to do, yet much to do. Music, festivals, events, entertainment, just no McDonald’s, bowling alleys or strips of fast food joints and strip malls. You are more likely to find impromptu musical entertainment at local bars, campsites or beaches.
You will also find fine dining at the Restaurant at the Lodge, the Circle M or the Shamrock and Stony Acre Grill. Each has above average cooks on staff and a tasty breakfast is available at Dalwhinnies Baker and Deli or Paradise Bay coffee shop.
Above all these sights and scenery, interesting and entertaining events and things to do is the ever-present true essence of the island. It flows through the air and trees on a Donegal Bay breeze, at Iron Ore Bay Public Beach, or in the singing trees at Little Sand Bay, on wooded walkways and trails or strolling downtown at night.
This sense of mystery only comes from spending time with your own heart in the wilderness, on hot patches of sandy beach, dipping into clean, clear waters with a paddle or full-body swim on serene beaches. In the flames of campfires in twilight or pure, dark skies, watching stars or northern lights in an empty field or in the hundreds of secluded areas, Beaver Island is unmatched for opportunities to withdraw and enjoy an unhurried pace that only exists in this unpopulated, unspoiled, breathtaking space in Northern Michigan.
www.beaverisland.org (chamber of commerce)
www.bibco.com (Ride the boat!)
http://islandairways.com/ Daily flights from Charlevoix
https://www.freshairaviation.net/ Daily flights from Charlevoix
http://www.beaverislandbirdingtrail.org/ Birding Trail Maps
https://landtrust.org/millers-marsh-natural-area/ Millers Marsh
http://www.michiganwatertrails.org/trail.asp?ait=cv&cid=361 Water trail