Dispatch from the Upper Peninsula: On the Water

Kayaks ready for a day amongst Les Cheneaux.

As summer fades to fall, Canadians are taking advantage of the waning days of good weather before winter arrives. And visiting Canucks will find plenty of places to get outside in the UP. The area has committed to developing an eco-tourism industry, and anyone visiting the area should definitely stop in to see Jesse Hadley at Woods and Water Ecotours. While she can certainly set you up with hiking, biking, dogsledding and ski adventures, her true specialty is kayaking. Located in the quaint harbour village of Hessel, Woods and Water is right next door to the Les Cheneaux Islands, on the edge of Lake Huron. Whether you opt for a short paddle or a full-day adventure, Jesse will take you through a variety of stunning settings, from smooth-as-glass waters in the channels, gliding past beautiful boathouses and cottages, to paddling through tall stands of wild rice, to heading out toward the open water—when the sun glistens just right on the horizon, you feel like you can paddle forever. She’s had kids as young as three on her kayak trips, and owns a number of family-friendly tandem kayaks. And make sure to stop in at Hessel Grocery for a Hessel Dog—hot dogs named for the puppies in the village, and designed around their personalities.

And when you’re ready to ride in a boat that you’re not propelling with your own arms, take a trip with Soo Locks Boat Tours. This dinner cruise (food is served buffet-style, a nice feature for picky eaters) takes riders down the St. Mary’s River. History buffs will enjoy the narration, which gives a nice  background and overview of the locks and Sault Ste. Marie (the third-oldest city in the United States), but the experience of actually going through the Soo Locks is alone worth the price of admission.

—Tim Johnson, CF’s contributing editor

The sun sets on the Soo Locks.

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