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  • Writer's pictureSam Hageman


To bring in the new year & take a much-needed vacation, we decided to head to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for winter wonderland bliss. We partnered with Nissan USA for our trip & got to experience the new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. It was one of our favorite winter trips so far & I am happy to finally be able to share the details with all of you after the blogs hiatus the past few months.

When our 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrived, we had to plan how we were going to pack the vehicle. Being winter in the U.P. we had a lot of things to pack, between snowshoes, ice cleats, snow pants, thick layers, the dogs winter gear, & more. Plus, we also had Christmas at my mom’s house up north on New Year’s Day, so we had presents & our sleeping gear for her house as well. The Nissan Pathfinder has three rows of seats. However, it honestly is a bit cramped to fit three rows & offers little cargo space for outdoor adventuring with all the seats up. We honestly could not have used the vehicle if this was a Siblings Week with my two brothers, both dogs, Garrett, & myself, plus all our gear. It is not a large enough vehicle for that. Thankfully for this trip though we only had Garrett, me, & two dogs, thus it was roomy enough when we put the third row down to expand the cargo area. We were able to easily fit all our winter adventure gear & the presents without many issues.

Next, we had to set up the dog’s safety gear. This Nissan Pathfinder had two captains’ seats with an arm rest/cup holder in the center for the second row. Alfred’s car seat box fit well on the seat & easily set up. Dexter’s seat belt was easy to insert, but due to Dexter being a 75lbs Shepherd mix he didn’t have much room to lay down on the seat. He either sat on the seat or would resort to laying in the footwell to fully lay down while we traveled. One of the major benefits of the Nissan Pathfinder’s safety features was that the seat sensor was in the front & back seats! This is huge since Dexter is known for unclipping his seat belt when he gets anxious. This only happened once or twice, but we were able to easily clip the seat belt back in & make sure Dexter was secure.

After getting the dogs settled, we were able to put our maps, books, snacks & water in the front seats. I absolutely loved the additional storage in the center console under the shifter that fit my massive 64oz water bottle, the side door cup holders & extra storage, as well as the arm of the door having a slot where your phone could fit. It made it possible to pack in all our front seat necessities without using our foot wells for our 8-hour drive. We were all packed up & set up Apple Carplay with my phone on the infotainment center for Google Maps & Podcasts. I set up the navigation to my moms, put my phone on the wireless charging station in the center counsel, put the key fob in the center counsel, & hit the road.

We left about mid-afternoon on a weekday, so the roads were not bad & the weather was cooperative. We stopped at my mom’s house on the way up to eat lunch with my youngest brother Ashton & drop off all the gifts for later that week. We still needed to figure out where we were staying that week, especially that night since this was the most unplanned trip we have ever gone on & we were just winging it (which is NOT my style at all, but with the holidays I had no capacity to do any planning). Thus, after we finished lunch, we called some hotels to see what was available & in what areas of the U.P. We ended up settling on Marquette for the night, as there are tons of hotels in the area & we knew that we could easily make it there. So, we booked our hotel at MyPlace in Marquette & hit the road again.

We ended up running into a snowstorm right before crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Thankfully we weren’t worried though as the Nissan Pathfinder had 4WD that was easy to navigate with photos on the knob representing the different types of 4WD capabilities. We turned on the snow mode & crossed the bridge into St Ignace where we finally had to stop for gas. While Garrett filled up, I gave the dogs water & their dinner. Thankfully the dogs were very at ease during most of the ride, so we did not need to stop much. I think a lot of this was due to how quite & smooth the ride was in the Nissan Pathfinder…even on the grates of the Mackinac Bridge. Once we finished getting gas, we continued our way through the snowstorm to Marquette.

We arrived in Marquette at 9PM. We got the dogs out so they could stretch out & go to the bathroom before heading up into our hotel room. They were so hyper once they saw the snow & continually rolled around in it until the wind picked up. We then headed up to the room with the stuff we needed. Once in the room we decided to head to Meijer to get some food we could prepare in the mini kitchen in our hotel room, so we could have time to eat & plan out the rest of the trip. We grabbed our food from Meijer & then spent the rest of the night going through AllTrails, our Michigan waterfall & hiking books, Google, & making a list of places & areas we wanted to go in the U.P., all while the dogs snuggled up on the bed. We decided to extend our stay at MyPlace Marquette for the rest of the week & make it our home base for our adventures.

The next morning, we planned on staying in Marquette & hiking nearby. So, we slept in & decided to order carry out from Jeffreys. We ate breakfast in bed, took the dogs out & fed them breakfast, & narrowed down our list to one hiking trails we wanted to explore that day. There was snow on the ground & the weather was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, so Dexter did not need his winter gear. However, Alfred was put in his winter coat to keep him warm & prevent him from getting too wet from being so low to the ground. We then packed up what we would need on the trail, put it in the Nissan Pathfinder, & headed a few miles down the road to Bad Dog Loop.

The Bad Dog Loop is located right

outside of the shopping district in Marquette. The trail system is run by the Marquette Light & Power company & well-traveled. There are two different parking lots where the trails are accessible. We put on our ice cleats due to how close the trail was to the water, assuming it would be slick. Once we were ready, we got the dogs out & started the 2.6-mile loop. The beginning of the trail was very easy & beautiful as it ran right next to the Dead River. Once we passed the electric building the trail started to get a little more moderate with steeper inclines. We hiked along the giant pipe nearby for a bit until we hit the downhill. Once we headed downhill, we hiked along the river again until we hit the Forestville Dam Falls. We stopped for a little while to enjoy the falls, let the dogs roll around in the snow, & get some water. We then continued the trail, which was fairly easy the rest of the way. We ended up back at the pipe right by Wright Street Falls, which was very icy & slick. Once we went under the pipe, we continued to follow the river back to the parking lot. It was a great hike that was popular for a weekday, but worth it & absolutely stunning in the winter.

We were absolutely exhausted & starving after the hike, so we just relaxed at the hotel for a little while before heading out to dinner. The dogs ate their food & we headed to Aubree’s for calzones. The Nissan Pathfinder made it easy to park in the tight downtown Marquette parking spaces with the backup camera & sensors on the sides. After we enjoyed our calzones, bread, & garlic dip we headed to Meijer to grab snacks & drinks for the rest of our trip. Then we headed back to the hotel for the night.

We had two options the next morning, either head an hour west to some waterfalls & trails or go all the way to Copper Harbor. After eating some breakfast, taking care of the dogs, & getting ready for snow adventures we decided to drive an hour west to Canyon Falls. It was a lot colder this day, so we started having some issues with the Nissan Pathfinders Intelligent Forward Collision Warning system. We cleaned off the two front sensors before starting the vehicle but driving snowy roads & the frigid temperatures would cause the sensors to get blocked or get too cold to function properly, making it impossible to use the Cruise Control. However, you can turn the sensors off in the settings menu & I would highly recommend doing so in rural, cold, & snowy areas.

We drove the hour to Canyon Falls Roadside Park located south of L’Anse along the Sturgeon River. This is a very popular destination known as the “Grand Canyon of Michigan” & is very busy in the summer due to its short hike, easy access, & beauty. However, in the winter the parking lot is not plowed, but there is a turnout right at the gate entrance that is usually plowed. A few cars can park there, but you will have to hike a farther distance to the trail. If there is snow you will likely need snowshoes as the snow gathers quickly & it is not a frequently visited location. The trail is about 1.5 miles long in the winter & can continue past the falls a bit if you wish to see more of the canyons. The entire trail was a winter wonderland. Dexter frolicked happily through the deep snow, while Alfred tried to do the same. Alfred eventually started hiking between the two of us so we would pave an easier path for him to walk through. The falls were stunning covered in a blanket of ice & snow. I think we preferred it in the winter.

Once we returned to the Nissan Pathfinder we headed to Bond Falls Scenic Site. However, while we were on our way to Bond Falls the Wiper Fluid stopped coming out of the hoses. This made it fairly dangerous for parts of the drive because the roads were a mix of wet & salt causing major cloudiness & we were unable to properly clear off the glass without stopping. When we stopped & cleared the tops of the hoses/bottom of the windshield it seemed to help a little, however it continued to occur. After some research it seems that there is a new modern fan nozzle on the hoses that allow for a wider finer spray of the fluid on the newer models. This is a change from older models that were easily cleaned by sticking a needle in the nozzle to clear it out, but this is not the case with the more modern nozzle & is not ideal for the winter where the nozzle can be easily clogged. This is something both my husband & I hated about the vehicle.

We finally arrived to Bond Falls Scenic Site & it was packed with people. It is a very popular place all year round. However, like Canyon Falls, you cannot get to the normal parking lot due to it not being plowed. You simply park on the street or you can access it with a snowmobile. This is usually an easy hike, but in the winter you will need to hike down & back up the steep hill you would typically drive down to get to the parking lot. Outside of the hill it is a relatively easy hike & well-traveled. The falls were beautiful in the white blanket of snow & it was a nice end of the day. We hiked back out & drove an hour back to Marquette.

On our way back to Marquette we mobile ordered YoopCoop & brought it back to the hotel. We ate our chicken tenders, fed the dogs, & relaxed for some of the night. We decided later that night to head to Black Rocks Brewery & drink some craft beer. We enjoyed hanging out outside by the fire pits & igloos, as well as inside at the main bar or upstairs. Once we felt hungry, we headed back to the hotel & ate our left-over calzones from Aubrees.

The next morning, we got up early, got us ready for the day, & headed to the Keweenaw Peninsula. We headed to the Hungarian Falls Trail in Hubbell. The trail was very difficult to spot because there were multiple trailheads along the way. We had to turn around once or twice because we went the wrong way.

Due to an injury from earlier in the year on our honeymoon, my knee was not in great shape. We started doing part of the hike & it was very steep. In the winter I would honestly rate this more of a moderate to difficult hike due to the slippery conditions. We ended up realizing it was going to be too difficult for me at this time. So we sadly had to turn around before seeing the falls. Thankfully the dogs still had a grand ol’ time frolicking in all the snow, as there was a ton on the ground & even more coming down.

We returned to the car & headed to the Queen City Burger Co. in Hancock for lunch. After that it was on to Copper Harbor to explore some of Fort Wilkins Historic State Park/Astor Shipwreck Park. We started facing a blizzard as we headed there, so we turned on the 4WD snow mode. This mode made it very easy to deal with steep inclines & declines that would usually be slippery for most cars in the snow & deal with deeper snow as well. This thankfully allowed us to arrive in Copper Harbor an hour before sunset. We hiked along the Garden Brook creek at the Astor Shipwreck Park & saw the Fanny Hooe Creek Falls. It was a beautiful scene as we approached Lake Superior during the snowstorm. We only saw only one set of people while we were there & it was very peaceful. We could see the Copper Harbor Lighthouse from the shoreline & the dogs could roll around in the snow. It was a great way to spent sunset (even if we could not see it with the cloud cover).

We then decided to take the scenic way down M-26 to Eagle River. We continued to use the Nissan Pathfinders snow mode due to the weather & the crazy turns on the road. We did have to drive slower in these conditions, but it was still a magical way along Lake Superior to Fitzgerald’s (aka the best barbeque on Lake Superior). Thankfully they had decided to stay open this winter, so we ordered carry out & drove back to Marquette where we then devoured its deliciousness. It was late when we got back, but we were able to relax for the rest of the night & have a great time.

The next day was New Years Eve & our last full day in the U.P. After taking care of the dogs, Garrett & I went out to Bodega for breakfast in Marquette & enjoyed some delicious food. Once we finished up there, we headed to the Huron Mountain Bakery to pick up donuts for the next morning. We were all tired after hiking so much the past few days that we picked a few easy things to do. We headed toward Munising to the lower AuTrain falls in the Hiawatha National Forest. It’s an easy hike less than 1/4 a mile down a hill. We spent some time checking at the falls & were surprised there was not much change from when we were there in the fall (outside of the icicles of course). The dogs got to run around & enjoy the snow a bit before we headed out. We then went to the Wagner Falls Scenic Site to see how the snow had changed the falls. Even though it was not much change from the fall, it was still beautiful & an easy hike to end our day.

Once we wrapped up near Munising we headed back to Marquette for the rest of the night. The dogs were tired & done for the night. So, we relaxed in the hotel for a little bit, fed the dogs, & then Garrett & I headed out to Ore Dock Brewery. We hung out & played some chess for a few hours before deciding we wanted to grab some food & see the laser lightshow on the Ore Dock. So, we placed our pizza order in at Main Street Pizza & headed to the lightshow on the Ore Dock. We were able to park right at the front so we could stay in our car to watch the show. It was a great show, but I wish the Nissan Pathfinder allowed you to completely turn off the lights (running lights included) while the car is running. Otherwise, we enjoyed watching the show & then headed to pick up our pizza so we could head to the hotel & ring in the new year with our dogs. We all enjoyed some pizza & bread, sparkling grape juice, & relaxed bringing in 2022.

The next morning, we packed up the Nissan Pathfinder, fed the dogs, & said goodbye to Marquette & Lake Superior. We had one more item on our agenda list before heading to my mom’s though, we had to get our first hikes of the new year in. We headed to Kitch-iti-kipi in Palms Book State Park to see the spring again as we had our last winter U.P. trip. It was nice like the last time, but I think it is better later in the winter season. Once we wrapped up at the springs, we headed to Indian Lake State Park (which is literally right next to Palms Book State Park). We put on our snowshoes, put the winter gear on the dogs, & started hiking the Dufour Creek trail. It was an easy trail that is 1.4 miles long, but there were a lot of downed trees & branches were difficult to cross with snowshoes & the portion of the trail next to the lake it was very windy which gave us wind burn on our faces. Dexter loved blazing through the deep snow, becoming the ultimate snow monster. Alfred on the other hand stayed either behind the both of us or in between us so our snowshoes could create a path for his little legs. Overall, it was probably one of the most magical winter hikes we have been on & one of my favorite easy snowshoeing trails. Definitely a great way to start our 2022 hiking goals.

After we wrapped up hiking, we packed everything, & got in the car to warm up. The Nissan Pathfinder warmed up superfast, had great seat warmers that were not too hot, & even had a heating steering wheel which made it the perfect vehicle to go into after a cold hike. It warmed us up quickly & made the long journey back to the mitten comfortable. Our time in the U.P. ended perfectly as we caught the sunset on Lake Michigan while leaving the U.P. & crossing the Mackinac Bridge to the Mitten.

Overall, it was honestly an amazing Winter trip to the U.P. & I think winter is by far my favorite time of year to hang out there. Although we wish we could have stayed longer, we spent the next two days at my mom’s hanging out with family for our holiday celebration. We easily fit all the gifts we received in the Nissan Pathfinder with the rest of our gear & headed home.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder was also a great vehicle to use during our trip & we overall would recommend the vehicle for anyone adventuring with their dogs. These were our overall thoughts:

A few things that we either had issues with or would have changed about the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder:

1. The shape of hood was designed to be aerodynamic, but it can cause serious sun reflections int o the driver’s eyes because it is angled toward the windshield. This results in blinding the driver & makes it dangerous to drive during certain times of day.

2. We would make sure to have Weathertechs or some sort of rubber mat system as the carpet attracts hair, plus water & salt from the boots & outdoor hiking equipment. The hair on the carpet did come up pretty easily if you run a squeegee on it, however it would just be easier to have Weathertechs when you do a lot of outdoor recreation & travel with dogs.

3. Having three rows is honestly quite useless when you travel with dogs in a vehicle this size. You either choose a 3rd row or being able to fit stuff in the trunk. It would even be difficult to have full car of people & their stuff, especially for winter adventures.

4. Having captain’s chairs in the middle row is not ideal when you have a larger dog. It would have been better for Dexter to have more room to lay down with a bench seat in the second row. However, the cup holders were great for holding the dogs water bottles. We could have easily moved those to a back of the seat storage unit though.

5. We honestly hated the steering assistant function. It can be a very dangerous feature on a car when the roads are icy or the lines are unclear. We immediately turned this off when we were leaving the Metro-Detroit area as it caused us to jump lanes before we were even an hour away from home. We kept it off the rest of the trip as it would have made things worse in the wintery U.P.

6. The design of the shift selector is an accident waiting to happen. We did in fact knock it into neutral at one point when reaching for my phone that was wirelessly charging in the center console. It easily moves if you’re attempting to put your phone on the charger or put your hand near it/on it. We aren’t huge fans of electric shifters anyway, but overall if it had an electric shifter, I believe it would be much safer as a knob on the dash, similar to the 4WD control, or a push button.

7. We do wish the selector knob for the lights allowed for ALL of the lights to be off while the vehicle is running. This would make things like star gazing in the winter or watching a drive-in movie much easier. It was disappointing the running lights were on even when the knob stated they were completely off.

8. The Intelligent Forward Collision Warning system is both good & bad. Thankfully it can easily be turned off, but it is annoying that the sensor gets blocked when you are driving in the snow/cold and it does not allow you to use cruise control. It was beneficial when using cruise for the automatic speed adjustments & the collision sensors in case of sudden braking, however it honestly is not a necessary feature in the remote U.P.

9. Probably our least favorite part of the vehicle was the wiper fluid hose issue. The new nozzles are just not equipped to handle anything getting in them & are too difficult to clean while on the road.

However, as we stated we would still recommend this car because of all these amazing features in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder:

1. For a mid-size SUV the miles per gallon was good. We put about 1,700 miles on the vehicle, used about 4-5 full tanks of gas, & averaged about 22 mpg for our trip.

2. I am overall very impressed with the amount of storage in the entire vehicle. Nissan seems to use any available empty space for more storage. In the front 4 cup holders, storage in the doors, storage in the blank space under the shifter & center console, & deep center console storage. Further, there tons of room in the back with the third row down, plus a hidden compartment to keep your spare parts, first aid kits, emergency kits, or extra storage.

3. A full size spare tire. This is a huge bonus for anyone who road trips or constantly adventures in their vehicle. If anything happens it’s a lot easier to put on a full-size spare to get out of a back country dirt forest road than with a donut.

4. The infotainment Center & HVAC controls were fantastic. The infotainment center was easy to use/connect to & was able to be controlled from the steering wheel for volume/skipping music/etc. Also, there were separate knobs for HVAC that were not on infotainment touch screen. The HVAC controls also allowed both passenger, driver, & back seat to control their temperature. However, it still gave the driver the ability to lock the back HVAC controls in case there are dogs or kids who like to knock into the buttons. The heated seats & heated steering wheel are a huge bonus, especially for winter adventures.

5. The wireless charging station in the center console was perfect for smartphones when using Apple CarPlay for navigation. There was also both (1) USB-C & (1) USB-A charging ports right next to it.

6. The overall ride was quiet, smooth, & comfortable. No drone or anything. It made it easy to put a lot of miles on the car without fatigue.

7. The handling was also great. There was a great turning radius, it felt a lot smaller to drive than it was, & minimal body roll on tight corners. The 4WD system was also amazing with all of the different modes on an easy-to-understand knob. Snow mode made driving in slippery conditions a breeze. It helped control the wheel spin on steep hills, slippery roads, and in deep snow.

8. The car was also very comfortable. The driver’s seat has great lumbar support & has controls for changing the seat angle as well, which is especially important for taller drivers like us to allow us to have great leg support under our thighs for long hours on the road. The only thing missing for the passenger is the lumbar support, but it is not truly necessary. The headrest was also in great spot so it does not cause the driver to crane their head forward. The seats were also leather or pleather, which made cleaning them from the dogs slobber or the salt dust from our boots/clothes easily come off.

9. The cars navigation system was decent. When you have the dash set to compass it will inform you of the road you are on, which is handy when there are no street signs or they are covered in snow. It even will tell you in remote areas the road you’re on. However, it can be inaccurate for speed limits posted on occasion.

10. Although it was winter having the sunroof/glass roof is great. It allows for more light in the vehicle during the day & makes you feel more like you are outside than trapped inside.

11. Adaptive cruise control is a great function so long as the front sensors are working. You don’t have to worry about constantly turning the cruise on or off if we get cut off or get stuck behind slower traffic. It is beneficial for longer highway drives.

12. Second row comfort for the dogs was decent. Alfred had no issues fitting in his box easily on the captains chair & Dexter had plenty of room in the foot well of the back seat. Outside of preferring a bench seat to a captain’s chair for Dexter, it was overall a quite & comfortable ride which made Dexter overall less anxious in the car & allowed Alfred to easily sleep the entire time.

We would recommend that anyone looking for a vehicle check out the Nissan Pathfinder, it was a great adventure vehicle & we would happily use one again. Thank you again to Nissan for partnering with us on this wonderful winter trip to the U.P.

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