Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce director Steve West shows off a 31-pound carp caught on a fly. Submitted

By Brandon Butler

Up North is a special place. Anyone familiar with northern Michigan knows what I’m talking about. My family has been going Up North since I was a boy, and to this day I cherish trips to this special region.

From the Great Lakes to the vast forests, trout streams to the endless trails, Northern Michigan has something for every outdoor enthusiast. Here are three Up North destinations you should consider visiting:

Mackinac Island

The name appears as both Mackinaw and Mackinac on the map — Mackinaw for the town and Mackinac for the bridge and island. The proper way to pronounce the name is always Mackinaw. The last letter of the name varies due to different Indian and British spellings.

Reaching the island is simple, with multiple ferries operating.

Mackinac Island is a 3.5-square mile landmass sitting close to the mainland in Lake Huron. The island surely has a tourist feel, but the surrounding natural world is incredible. So are many of the shops and restaurants.

The term “fudgie” comes from the number of tourists who devour the world famous fudge found all over the island. I eat my share every time I visit, and recommend the maple and cherry.


Grayling is quaint little community with a strong outdoor ambience. The Au Sable River is one of America’s special waters. This beautiful trout stream flows right through Grayling, and is where Trout Unlimited was founded. The history of the river, combined with excellent fly fishing for brown trout, makes the Au Sable in and around Grayling a must-fish river for every trout angler.

Fred Bear is one of the all-time great archers. He was an innovator in the production of modern archery. His company, Bear Archery, was founded in Grayling. Even though the company moved to Florida in the late 1970s, there is a remaining Fred Bear connection to Grayling. Hunters recognize the contribution that the town and its residents made to the growth of modern hunting.

Beaver Island

Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan is one of my absolute favorite destinations for outdoor adventure. I’ve been there a number of times to fly fish for carp and smallmouth bass.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at