Near Houghton, MI on the Keweenaw Peninsula
My suggested site is Great Sand Bay, in the Keweenaw Peninsula. It faces Northwest, looking over Lake Superior and has a cliff 50 to 100 ft high. The site is about 25 miles north of Houghton and Hancock. The nearest towns likely to be on a map are Eagle River and Eagle Harbor.
I found two more great slopes near Houghton, MI
1. East facing slope near WalMart. This slope is about 200 ft high. It faces the highway that goes south from here (US 29 ) (Taco Bell, Walmart etc.). The top of the slope is occupied by “The Bluffs” an apartment complex for retirement-age folks. Between the apartment building and the slope is a paved trail (maybe for jogging and biking). There was no indication of who owns the trail and no “no trespassing” signs. The slope of the slope is maybe 45 degrees. There is a gravel access road about 75 ft down the slope accessible from the north. This road is marked “private property” but it doesn’t say “no trespassing”. Presently, whoever manages the slope had put a geo-fabric and grass on it and is watering it in the hopes that the grass will prevent erosion. I went there one day to test the air. A wind which was easterly 10 mph on the flat was turned into a 25 mph gale on the slope. I have never flown my gliders in such a wind, so I didn’t try it.
2. The other slope faces west, which is the direction of the prevailing winds here. This slope is just east of Superior Sand and Gravel. The location is just outside of the west end of Hancock Michigan. Superior Sand and Gravel occupies the base of the hill. On top of the hill is the Houghton County Arena and Fairgrounds. The slope is between the two. A high tension power line runs nearly parallel to the slope. The land just in from the top of the slope is maybe a jogging/nordic skiing trail area. You can drive/follow trails to the lip of the slope. This slope must be about 200 ft high. I have not been there when the wind is blowing. Again, I need to practice on smaller slopes before throwing my airplane of this one.
I asked at Superior Sand and Gravel about flying there. They didn’t seem to mind. I must say that there is a certain element of danger with that high cliff.
Also, there is a site near Eagle Harbor which looks good for thermal flying. It is waste basalt sand from a former copper mining operation. It may be reached by driving south past the Eagle Harbor cemetery and continuing more or less south for 2.5 miles. The site is privately owned but there are no “no trespassing” signs. There is a cable across the road but it may be just lifted off the post. The site is pretty much flat and is maybe 800 by 800 ft. (~ 16 acres). Unfortunately, it is also sometimes a playground for people with two, three or four wheel bikes. A dozen or so of them came by when I was trying to fly, and I was quite concerned about them running over my airplane or tangling my high start.
These are locations we have had the privilege to fly. Some may have access restrictions.
Check with local flyers for information.
Michigan Slope Flying Sites
Sloping at Ludington, MI
Ludington Michigan is named after a 19th Century timber baron who sited the town at the estuary of the Pere Marquette River on the shores of Lake Michigan, just about halfway between the Indiana border and the Sioux. It was the logical place for James Ludington to set up a railroad and wagon ferry across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc Wisconsin, and the steamer still runs today.
Ludington is not nearly as touristy as Leland Michigan, but it does boast several very nice restaurants, a swarm of Victorian Bed and Breakfasts, and a beautiful Romanesque red sandstone courthouse. Also worth a visit is the Pere Marquette National Scenic River. There is plenty of opportunity for lake and river recreation in the area.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Empire Michigan
Located in Northwestern, Lower Michigan Sleeping Bear is about 25 miles Southwest of Traverse City, MI. The National Lakeshore encompases a lot of area and there are many dunes from which to fly. Explore a bit! Pyramid Point near Glen Arbor is over 500 feet above Lake Michigan!
The following is courtesy of Tom Nagle from Columbus, OH: