DRUMMOND ISLAND, Mich. (Michigan Back Roads and Michigan News Source) – Off the eastern end of Michigan’s U.P. lies the “Gem of Lake Huron” Drummond Island. Any destination can be described as “unique”, but this hidden treasure really can be designated as a unique paradise.
The short list is impressive: 150 miles of shoreline, 30 bays and coves, 34 inland lakes, 100 miles of ORV trails comprising one of the largest closed loop trail systems for off road – ATV / ORV exploration in the U.S., 70 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, more than a dozen shipwrecks, 58 neighboring islands, a lighthouse and a ferry ride. At 249 square miles, Drummond is more than 40 times as large as Mackinac Island. There are a number of attractions and features that prove the island’s uniqueness.
The Maxton Plains
A rare natural alvar exists on Drummond Island. It’s known locally as the Maxton Plains. Alvars are extremely rare plant communities existing on limestone bedrock. Alvars are only found in parts of Canada, the United States and Sweden. These plains are grasslands growing on very thin soil consisting of bulrush sedge and ragwort, prairie dropseed, prairie smoke, and Indian paintbrush. There are even fields of Prairie Smoke sprouting up through the cracks in the rocks. Another unusual feature of alvars is that trees tend to grow in straight lines following the soil filled cracks in the bed rock. The Maxton Plains on Drummond Island are some of the largest remaining in North America at about 2 miles by 4 miles. Interpretive signs at the crossroads explain the formation and appearance of the alvar.
Marblehead is a high cliff on the furthest eastern point of the island. The view of Lake Huron from the top of the cliffs is breathtaking. The cliffs are a part of the Niagara Escarpment, of which Niagara Falls are a part. You will have to work to get up there. A four-wheeler is the best way to get to the base of the escarpment to begin the climb up. No four-wheeler? Take a mountain bike and get as far as you can with it.
The Fossil Ledges
Rockhounds and collectors will want to make their way to this unusual formation. You will need specific directions to get to the ledges. They are north and east of the Four Corners in the same general direction as the Maxton Plains. From the Interpretive Signs for the Maxton Plains to the Ledges involves about 45 minutes of travel. After crossing a swamp and traveling an old two track, one reaches the parking area. Now all that is left is a very short hike to the shoreline. The ledges extend along the shore about a half mile. The limestone bedrock makes it possible to hike along the cliff. The entire cliff face and most fallen rocks will contain fossils, saltwater fossils.
The Huron Jewel
The Huron Jewel is a local tall ship. It was constructed on Drummond Island and is the fastest schooner on the Great Lakes. It is available for short trips and long, and it is a Bed and Breakfast. Even a short afternoon sail around the island is a fun adventure.