The most iconic sunrise location in Marquette County is Sugarloaf Mountain, full stop. Along with its expansive views facing eastward over Lake Superior, you feel you’re right on top of the water.

I believe it’s the undisputed sunrise champion of the area. That’s not to say it’s my favorite location, in fact it’s surprising how few mornings I’ve spent atop Sugarloaf. Just five of 365 sunrises in 2019, and on only one of those was the sun visible.

To some measure, a small one, it can be justified. It certainly takes extra commitment and motivation to wake up and choose to huff and puff up a countless stairs first thing in the morning (c’mon, I’m not in that great of shape), before coffee, before breakfast, before anything.

I’ve been up there in -30º wind chills at 8 a.m., yet I still don’t think there’s been a morning where it’s just me. Which is surprising, considering the extra effort it requires. There have been countless mornings at its neighboring locations, Wetmore Landing and Little Presque, where I haven’t seen a soul. But I think this is a testament to its iconic stature.

Sugarloaf Mountain is the best place in Marquette County (and one of the best in the Upper Peninsula), to feel the vastness of Lake Superior. It’s one of the few places to access a high vantage point where you’re sitting right over the water.

At six feet tall, standing on the shoreline, you can see only 3 miles to the horizon. Standing on top of Sugarloaf, 470 feet above Lake Superior, you see approximately 27 miles to the horizon. It feels so big, you see so far, you can see 27 miles! However, it is an entire 150 miles across to the North. That’s a mere 18% across. Keep in mind that Lake Superior is 350 miles across. If Sugarloaf was the height of Mount Everest (29,032 feet, or 28,432 feet above Lake Superior) you could see 207 miles across Lake Superior.

This sunrise journey has given me a lot of ways to appreciate the nature around me, and has been a concerted effort to not take things for granted. But I argue, it’s impossible to not take Lake Superior for granted. The goal is that we put in the effort to appreciate what we can. But there is no mountain heigh enough on earth that would allow you to see the entirety of Lake Superior. It is entirely impossible to take in the full vastness without advanced technology (flight, space, aerial photos, etc). We simply see so little of what this lake, the Greatest Lake of All-Time, has to offer.

It amazes me just how little of this lake we can see. Sugarloaf, I’m sorry I haven’t spent more time with you during these sunrise years.

Sunrising at Sugarloaf Mountain? Here are a few pointers.

  • From Marquette, leave about one hour before sunrise. I walk fast, but it takes me 22 minutes from downtown Marquette to standing on top of Sugarloaf (add a few minutes during the winter months). And you want to be there no later than 20 minutes before sunrise.
  • I suggest taking the “difficult” way up and the “easy” way down, gives you new views!
  • Winter? Unzip and unbutton everything on the way up so you don’t sweat too much. Zip up at the top when you stop moving and the wind starts to hit you.
  • I dress down at least one layer at Sugarloaf due to how much I warm up on the ascent.
  • However, be prepared for the wind at top!
  • Be sure to look west to Hogback Mountain!
  • You can also see my favorite sunrise location, Little Presque Isle.
  • Pay homage to Bart!
  • Read the informational signs on the way, they add a lot of context to the history and geology.
  • Be extra cautious in the winter, the stairs often turn into ice chutes, which is especially more difficult on the descent. I’d encourage extra traction for your feet during the winter months.
  • Yes, I am biased toward sunrise, but because of eastward facing views it’s far better at sunrise than sunset.
  • Take your time, wandering around, be amazed and find awe in just how large Lake Superior is.

📍 46° 36' 15" N, -87° 27' 17" W