Mount Arvon Summit (courtesy of Summitpost)
View Mount Arvon from Roland Lake Road (courtesy of Summitpost)
View from summit toward Lake Superior (courtesy of Baraga County Visitor Center)
Mount Arvon, at 1979 feet (603 m), is Michigan’s highest point. Located in the north-central area of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.), it is also the high point for Baraga County. While the approach to the trailhead can be tricky (twisty old logging roads), the hike to the summit is relatively easy. The summit is clearly marked with blue benches and a mailbox register. A short side-trail takes you to a nice lookout with views of Lake Superior.
Summary of the gory details:
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|Elevation:||1979.234ft / 603.27m|
|Location DMS:||46°45’21” N, 88°9’19” W|
|Location DD:||46.75583, -88.15528 (Peakbagger map)|
|Location: UTM||16T 411776 5178456|
|USGS Topo Map:||Skanee South O46088g2 1:24,000|
|NOAA Snow Depth:||snow depth|
Mount Arvon is part of the Huron Mountains which themselves are part of the Canadian Shield. They are remants of much higher peaks from the Precambrian period. They have been smooted over by erosin and glacial action. Today, Mount Arvon is not a prominent peak, being part of a heavily wooded area. Forests of hemlock and northern hardwoods cover the lower slopes while pine/oak are typically on the ridges.
Old-timers will be wondering what happened to Mount Curwood. Until 1982, Mount Curwood was considered Michigan’s highest point at 1978ft (603m). In 1982, the US Dept of Interior’s Geological Survey team determined that Mount Curwood measured 1978.24ft while Mount Arvon measured 1979.234ft. Thus Mount Arvon became Mighican’s highpoint by 11 inches (28 cm)! For those interested in the even earlier (upto 1950s) highpoint of Summit Peak (Government Peak), please read Mark Kness’ trip report of peak bagging all three high points
Due to the twisty nature of logging roads, it is well advised to first stop at the Baraga County Visitor Center in L’Anse. They have a pamphlet containing the current driving directions to Mount Arvon and will know the current road conditions. An old online version can be found here or Indian Country Sports has a 2014 version here.
In recent years the roads have been improved; it is only the last few miles which remain on dirt logging roads. Thus weather is the biggest determinant in whether you can reach the trailhead parking lot or not. From October to April up to 250 inches of snow falls. Snows don’t melt until May when the roads turn to mud and only 4WD vehicles are advised. By early-June the roads should be passable by 2WD vehicles, although the last 0.5-1 mile (0.8 – 1.6 km) may be too muddy and rough without 4WD. If in doubt, park and walk up the rest of the road to the trailhead.
In brief, from Main Street in L’Anse, drive on Skanee Road for 16.1 miles to Roland Lake Road (aka, Church Road). Turn south and go 3 miles to Ravine River Road, then follow the ligh blue, diamond-shaped signs to the parking lot. The large parking lot has a picnic table and fire pit/grill.
From the parking lot area there is a wide, fairly level trail which winds 0.5 miles (0.8 km) up to the summit. There are a few moderately steep inclines but nothing serious. The summit is marked by a large blue marker. You will also see a couple of benches, a picnic table and a mailbox holding the summit register. Much of the signage and the register mailbox was replaced in 2011 with the support of the Highpointers Foundation.
Make sure you take a little N-NE-ish diagonal trail from the summit which leads to a nice lookout about 300 feet (91 m) away. Resting on the bench (provided by the Highpointers Foundation in 2012) offers good views of Lake Superior and the Huron Islands. It is especially pretty in the Fall when the leaves are changing colors.
- Mount Arvon is part of the Huron Mountains. It takes its name from the deposits of slate in the area which are similar to those around Caernartfon, Wales.
- The Huron Mountains were a candidate for becoming a National Park in the late 1950s.
- Until 1982, Mount Curwood was Michigan’s highest point
- You might consider a winter ascent when Ravine River Road becomes a snowmobile trail
- Don’t forget to try the pasties!
There is no “red tape” to speak of. While the land is owned by Plum Creek (MeadWestvaco?), public access is allowed. It is advised that you talk with the Baraga County Visitor Center to check current road conditions and get driving directions.
- Highpoints of the United States by Don Holmes
- Highpoint Adventures: The Complete Guide to the 50 State Highpoints by Charlie and Diane Winger
- Fifty State Summits by Paul Zumwalt