Hunter Lodge: In Depth

IMG_1736This is some of the finest waterfront land that I have seen.

Each element is wonderful but having them all creates a symphony of features that is unique on the south shore of Lake Superior. First feature among equals is this one: nearly a mile of Lake Superior shoreline, part fine sand beach, part granite coastline, including high Saux Head Point covered with pines, reaching far into Superior.

Views from that point are stunning. The long arc of a perfect sand beach sweeps miles to the northwest with nothing but pines along the shore and hardwoods behind. Turn eastward and there’s a totally different long view of rock bays, points, islands, and a mountainous shoreline reminiscent of California’s Big Sur, where fingers of granite reach into the lake to become small rock islands offshore. In the distance you’ll see Granot Loma on the point.

DSC_0028-(1)There’s much more. The property includes about 4,500 feet of frontage on Saux Head Lake, a large, scenic Huron Mountain lake, plus hardwood forest, garden plots and meadows, a small orchard, sand beaches, mountain trails and a river that flows right through the property. With wooded area so plentiful, selective cutting and clearing for additional farming activities can more fully tap the resources of this productive land. The Big Garlic River enters Saux Head Lake on the property at the south end and it flows to the north across the property into Lake Superior. You can kayak or canoe from lake to lake.

Monarch white pine and hemlock frame softwoods with brilliant colors in spring and fall. There are spruce and balsam stands, open fields and a small marsh. This diversity of highlands, lowlands, tree types and lake and river edges supports a wide variety of birds, animals and plants. Pop’s Mountain, the highest point on the property, has 360-degree views, but less apparent overlooks along the Lake Superior shore also surprise and are dramatic. Down off the mountain by Saux Head Lake there are five acres of fertile land containing an orchard and large vegetable garden fed from warm water drawn from the lake.

The southern shore of Lake Superior is America’s North Coast, its only coast unaffected by hurricanes and rising ocean levels. Superior holds an astonishing 10% of the world’s fresh water. This is a lake with the power and feel of an ocean. From a kayak the water is so clear you can see bottom 50 feet down as you float over massive boulders below.

DSC_0008Spring colors are a palate of pastels with the forest floor erupting in a blanket of trillium, arbutus, and other wildflowers. Summer is waterskiing, the beach, lots of sun and kayaks, canoes, sail and power boats. Fall colors here are second to none, and I’ve lived in New England. Winter is cross-country and snowshoes or snowmobiling in the high country of the Huron Mountains. So much of living at Saux Head is the regular changing beauty of the seasons and the changing experiences that each offers.

People find it difficult to choose between the serenity of an inland lake and the drama of Lake Superior. They frequently ask me which is best and it can be difficult to choose as both have appealing features. Here’s a better idea: don’t choose. With apologies to Nike, “Just get it”: an inland lake and river for warm water swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing paired all with the stunning beauty and drama of Lake Superior. What a collection! This place is so dramatic.

Gulls bank and dive overhead, storm clouds and fog banks sweep across the lake, crashing waves wash the shore and ore boats pass in the night, bound for distant ports. This combination of a scenic mountain lake and Lake Superior, with high, beautifully timbered land between and a river on the property, is rare. “Unique” is much overused to describe property but look at any map. Convince yourself. There is nothing like this property that you can find, on or off the market. Period.

DSC_0021Superior is mostly well behaved and a calm lake is best for most activities, but I love the storms! When the wind is up the big lake comes alive. Thunderous waves crash against granite at the river mouth exploding spray 30′ into the air. It’s awesome, mesmerizing, and incredibly scenic. On those kinds of days at Marquette you’ll even see surfboarders out there in wetsuits riding those bucking, breaking waves.

The whole east side and south end of Saux Head Lake form the western and southern border of the property. Saux Head is a 137-acre Huron Mountain lake with 18-foot depths, sand beach, rock points, white pines, excellent fishing and the river that connects to the Great Lake. In season large northern pike, steelhead and salmon run that river from Lake Superior.

This country has long been a place of big land and big dreams. Fortunes were made here at the turn of the century. It still has the feel of a frontier with American eagles, wildlife in abundance, and a dramatic landscape that supports that impression. The rugged Huron Mountains protect a wilderness that extends 50 miles to the west and 30 miles deep. It’s the wildest land in Michigan and many call it the most beautiful. I feel that way. My camp is there. The Huron Mountains are cherished and defended by those of us who love big, beautiful, wild land.

DSC_0007Several structures and lots of history come with the property. This land was originally part of Louis Kaufman’s Granot Loma, a property from the early 1900’s that is often referred to as “Michigan’s Biltmore Estate” or “Michigan’s Hearst Castle.” Granot Loma land still adjoins the entire southeastern border of the property.

S.R. Kaufman built the original lodge here in 1917. Sam was the brother of L.G. Kaufman who built Granot Loma 5 years later. Robert & Mary Hunter renovated the Lodge in 1959 and 49 years later 2009 his four sons have brought it up to date with an extensive renovation. The Lodge has new Birdseye maple floors to complement the ancient pine beams that span the big Great Room. Wide, durable decks under roof wrap around the building. The Lodge contains about 4,700 square feet of space on two floors with a new kitchen/bar (Lodge appliance list – MS Word), four bedrooms upstairs, 3 1/2 baths and a full basement. The owners took special pains to integrate art pieces throughout the remodeled lodge. A dramatic monoprint by Mary Lee Rybar graces the entry hall. Local artist Stella Larkin from RustiCo Furniture in Marquette made the driftwood mirror in the first floor bathroom; Robert LaLonde a coppersmith and professor at Northern Michigan University handcrafted the outdoor chandeliers and Tom Wolfe of Wolfe Designs in Marquette designed and built the kitchen bar stools from native materials.

DSC_0020-(1)The living room has great light at any time of the day, be it storms or full on sunshine, and you can watch it all from any number of perches in that great room. A wonderful time of each day is the gathering of all in attendance in the living room around the low-slung table in front of the fireplace. It is here that the adventures of the day are retold.

You can use it “as is” with artistic and family changes you’ll have to make it your own. Four double bedrooms in the Lodge, completely refurbished and renewed this year, and two double bedrooms in Overlook House easily sleep 12. But beneath it all is the land, 170.9 acres of it. This awesome compound offers so many wonderful possibilities. Its future is as large as your imagination.

Properties like this seldom trade. L.G. Kaufman took title to the property in 1927. When L.G. and his wife, Marie, passed on it was deeded to their daughter, Marie Joan, who sold it to Robert Hunter in 1960. The Hunter family has owned it ever since. Overlook House was built across the river, on the hill, for Robert & Mary Hunter`s retirement in 1993 and was upgraded again in 2008. Overlook is about 1,600 square feet in size with two bedrooms, two baths, cedar siding and spectacular views of river where the Big Garlic meets Lake Superior. It has an attached garage and nearby in the woods, a tennis court.

The four Hunter brothers own the property now. Scot writes, “For me, Saux Head long ago became a state of mind — a place that I can go at will. It is the peaceful place on the large secluded beach next to that freshwater ocean, Lake Superior.” You can click right here to read more of their memories and observations.

DSC_0015There’s also an original boathouse on the river used as storage for canoes, kayaks, and equipment and awaiting further renovation, and an old dam that once controlled the level of Saux Head Lake. There is also a pump house on the point, and a small bunk house that has not been used in recent years. When you stand on the deck of the pump house, framed by granite walls that plunge into the lake, and look west up that long arc of the beach you’ll understand. It will likely be renovated, changed or removed. Also, there is a relatively new, working sauna next to the pump house.

We will post additional detail here soon on the land, buildings and equipment.

To the northwest and southwest the Saux Head Point Association lands forms the other boundary. The Association includes seventeen large waterfront parcels, one of which is included in this holding. Each Association member, which includes the owner of this property, has an equal undivided interest in an additional square mile of forest with a common access site on Saux Head Lake and a mile of vacant Lake Superior shoreline to the north. How do you put a value on all this land and lakeshore held in common? How can you value the uncommon privacy afforded by large, closely held private parcels surrounding on all sides?

Click here to download a PDF containing maps of the Hunter land and lakefront with property lines, the topography, and views of the land and lakes from every angle.

Mount-Marquette-VistaAnd here’s the kicker: This property is close to Marquette, the largest city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Marquette has great restaurants and shopping, an excellent regional hospital, regional jet airport with a 12,366′ (2.32 miles) runway that once launched B-52’s, and the regional seaport with two good harbors for your boats, a base for your big-water boating on Superior. You can watch Division I sports (hockey) at Northern Michigan University, or hit the slopes on skis or snowboards at Marquette Mountain, one of the state’s top downhill ski facilities.

The Marquette area has received national publicity as one of the nation’s “Most Livable Communities” and as one of the top small arts communities in the nation. Bike Magazine called Marquette one of “The 5 Best Places to Live & Ride.” Outdoor Life Magazine picked the city #7 of the “200 Best Places to Live,” and Sherman’s Travel named Michigan’s Upper Peninsula one of the Top Ten Global Summer Vacation Destinations in 2006.

A Noquemanon 12k trail system that runs along and above the north shore of Saux Head Lake is one of the best in the area and you can cross-country ski there in the winter or jog there or along the lake on miles of white sand beach in the summer. The restless will find endless adventure mountain biking, snowmobiling, cross county skiing, fishing, hunting, exploring and just plain wandering with friends or, if you choose, very much all by yourself.

DSC_0138The 30-mile shoreline between Marquette and Big Bay appears lightly developed from Hwy. 550, but that is an illusion. Plenty of wild shoreline remains but this lakeshore is home to the largest collection of high-end homes on the Lake Superior shore. Driving north from Marquette, invisible from the road, you will find them at Middle Bay, Middle Island Point, Partridge Bay, Granot Loma, Saux Head, Lake Independence, Squaw Beach, and just north of Big Bay, at the Huron Mt. Club.

Usually Superior is calm but there’s a wind today and I can hear the lake. It’s a sound like no other and I’ve never lived far from it. This is a place with beauty, power, and magic. Come spend a day and see for yourself. Take a deep breath. Mother Nature conditions the air, and it smells of pine.

Read the story of Hunter Lodge.

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