This is a fruit bat. You won’t see these on Millie Hill, but you’ve got a good chance at seeing some of its smaller relatives.
The Millie Hill Bat Cave is one of the prime attractions in the Iron Mountain area. But most people don’t what I’m about to tell you, so they miss out on the bat viewing action.
Passing cars often brake as they pass the “Bat Viewing Area” sign in town. Many of them don’t actually stop, but it’s enough to get their attention.
“Huh? Bats? What?” they likely mutter as they drive on.
And on my frequent summer evening walks up the Millie Hill trail, I’ll often encounter a group of people perched on the bat viewing benches. I usually try to sneak past unnoticed as they stare longingly at the cage surrounding the entrance to the old Millie Mine.
This is the entrance to the “bat cave.” Batman eat your heart out.
“Hey! When do the bats come out?” they’ll inquire.
“You can see them in April and September,” I’ll say, which always begets disappointed groans.
“Really?” someone will ask.
“Yeah,” I say, as I go into unofficial park ranger mode.
“They hibernate down there from around September to April every year. So spring and fall are the best time to see them.” (For the record, it does say this on one of the nearby signs.)
“Thanks,” they’ll say, not really meaning it. I could tell them about the great view that lies just a little up the trail. Or I could encourage them to come back in September when the place is buzzing with bats. I’ve tried these things, but it’s no use, they’re officially bummed.
Sometimes I play dumb and say I don’t know when the bats come out. But then I feel bad because the poor people just keep sitting there, waiting. And waiting…
Do you see my dilemma here?
And hey, if I stared at a metal cage for an hour hoping to see a bunch of bats, only to have those hopes crushed by some random guy with a camera, I’d be bummed too. I get it.
So, lesson learned here, right folks? The last few warm days of September or the first few warm days of April will usually get you a piece of the bat viewing action, but that’s it. They bug out in summer and they’re down there sleeping in the winter.
Now next time I see people up there waiting to see the bats in July I can just hand them a business card, smile, and ask them to read this post. ?
To see more photos of the Millie Hill bat viewing area, click here to access my Facebook page and then browse to the “Millie Hill Bat Cave” photo album.
Bottom Line: The Millie Hill Bat Viewing Site is definitely worth a stop, you just need to time your visit in accordance with the bat’s migration patterns. (Usually April or September.)
How to Get There: From downtown Iron Mountain, drive up East A Street and make a left on Park Street. Then make a quick left at the “Bat Viewing Area” sign to the trailhead.
To see the Millie Hill Bat Cave’s location on my map of the Upper Peninsula, click here.