Michigan’s largest freshwater spring, Kitch-iti-kipi means “big cold water.” Often, this massive pool is just known as “the Big Spring,” as its traditional name is too difficult to pronounce for the many visitors that flock here annually. Kitch-iti-kipi, located at the northern terminus of M-149, is one of the upper peninsula’s major tourist attractions despite its out-of-the-way location.
Tucked away within the Palms Book State Park, Kitch-iti-kipi measures about 300 feet by 175 feet and is 40 feet deep with an emerald bottom. About 10,000 gallons of water per minute gush into the lake from the fissures in the limestone that holds the pool. Because its water is replenished so quickly, the pool maintains a constant temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is unknown exactly where the enormous volume of water that fills the lake comes from. Tourists flock to Kitch-iti-kipi because it’s a geological wonder, and also because of the beautiful ancient tree trunks that are encrusted with minerals.
The pool is also teeming with life. Brown trout, brook trout, and lake trout fill the crystal-clear waters, and can be seen from viewing perches over the lake. A floating observation raft guides visitors to some of the best vantage points from which to view the water.
The lake was discovered back in the 1920s by the owner of a five and dime store. It was hidden behind fallen trees and heaps of garbage, as local loggers were using the area as a dump. The man who discovered it, who was known as Bellaire, could have purchased the area himself, but instead convinced the Palms Book Land Company to sell the spring and the surrounding acres to the state of Michigan to be used as a recreational center for only $10.00. The deed requires that the site be used as a public park forever.
Know Before You Go
Whether heading east or west on U.S. 2, turn north on M-149 about six miles west of Manistique, Michigan. Follow M-149 for a few miles until you come to the stop sign at County Road 442. Turn left onto what is locally known as County Road 442 (though GPS and maps will refer to the road as both M-149 and CR 442). About three miles down the road, turn right (north) onto County Road 455 (locally known as Riley Road). You will see signs for Palms Book State Park. Continue past the West Unit Campground of Indian Lake State Park until you come to a stop sign. Turn right (you are now back on M-149) and follow the paved highway to the entrance of Palms Book State Park. Please be aware that the Recreation Passport is required for all road-legal motor vehicles entering state parks. There is no staff at the spring. The raft is moved by whom ever volunteers to turn the crank.