The Compass Blog

The Great Lakes are Calling!

Kathi Noaker

The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, holding over 20 percent of the Earth’s freshwater along the northern border of the US with Canada. The lakes are so big they’re sometimes referred to as “inland seas”! They’re home to remarkable national parks, wildlife preserves, pristine waters, beautiful beaches, and all the outdoor activities that go along with those. 

This general region also includes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of America’s most beautiful and remote places. Its vast wilderness extends 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada border, covering 19,000 acres with over 1,100 lakes and 1,500 miles of canoe routes.

If you’re thinking about your summer job opportunities, we think you should give this area some consideration! Here are some reasons why the Great Lakes is a Great Place to spend your summer.

1. THE HIKING. It’s everywhere! Trails through forests, along sandy shores, to lighthouses, to grottos where you can cliff jump – it’s a hikers paradise. Here are a few that will definitely make you want to lace up your boots – AND pack your flip-flops.

  • Big Sable Point Lighthouse: The 3.6-mile round-trip hike along the sand dunes of Lake Michigan to Big Sable Point Lighthouse is quite possibly one of the most scenic places in Michigan. And its remote location provides social distancing at its best! Bonus, you can back-country camp just a short distance from the lighthouse. And if you make the journey in the spring or fall, you’ll often enjoy the beauty in perfect solitude.
  • South Manitou Island: Located off of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Lake Michigan, this island is only accessible by a two-hour ferry ride. This is a total backcountry experience. No vehicles or motorized transportation onshore and the only buildings are for the rangers who live there. There are three backcountry campgrounds,  a 10-mile island loop hike along the beaches, and the interior of the island is filled with hiking routes where you can wander about some of the oldest cedar trees in the country.
  • Superior Hiking Trail: also known as the SHT, is a 310-mile long hiking trail in northeastern Minnesota that for most of its length follows the rocky ridges overlooking Lake Superior. The trail travels through forests of birch, aspen, pine, fir, and cedar with views of the Sawtooth Mountains, creeks, waterfalls, and plenty of wildlife.

2. THE WATER: The color and the clarity of some of the waters in the Great Lakes – MAGICAL. And just look above at how many miles of water wilderness you can explore in the Boundary Waters! Did you know the term having a “blue mind” refers to the meditative state your brain enters when you’re exposed to water? Scientists have determined that looking at/enjoying water floods the brain with dopamine, or feel-good hormones, naturally. Meaning people exposed to water are often more relaxed and happier in general. 

3. THE BEACHES: The Great Lakes coastline is nearly twice as long as America’s Atlantic coastline, so that means a whole lot of beaches.

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore –  A 64-mile curve of sweeping vistas with miles of perfect freshwater beaches.
  • If you have a passport, you might want to check out Sauble Beach in Ontario. It’s one of the world’s longest freshwater beaches — with shallow, warm waters colored a near-Caribbean turquoise. 
  • Holland State Park, in Holland, MI has a wide white sand beach with lots of activity if you’re in the mood to make some new friends.   

There really are so many great outdoor adventures to be had in this area. We think it’s sometimes overlooked because of the pull the Rocky Mountains and the big western National Parks have, but “to everything, there is a season”. So maybe this should be your “Blue Mind” summer! 

Explore Opportunities for a season in the Great Lakes, check out the Great Lakes Jobs page!