How to Experience the Beauty of Pictured Rocks by Trail

Grand Portal Point in the Pictured Rocks park. PC: Instagrammer @shannon__rose_Grand Portal Point in the Pictured Rocks park. PC: Instagrammer @shannon__rose_

Along the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula you’ll find the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Managed by the National Park Service, the lakeshore offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails that lead to gorgeous waterfalls, beaches, towering cliffs, and dunes.

Chapel Rock seen from Chapel Beach in the Pictured Rocks park. PC: Instagrammer @aadinallappaChapel Rock seen from Chapel Beach in the Pictured Rocks park. PC: Instagrammer @aadinallappa

Although best viewed by water, exploring the Pictured Rocks – which is sandwiched between Munising and Grand Marais in Alger County – by foot offers some of the most tranquil experiences and intimate views one can only revel in by land.

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So, put on a pair of comfortable shoes, grab a snack, water, map, and check out some of the most amazing trails Michigan has to offer.

All points of interest in the park are accessed from scenic Highway 58:

Discover Pink Sand and a Gorgeous Waterfall

Munising Falls. PC: Munising Visitors BureauMunising Falls. PC: Munising Visitors Bureau

Just over two miles northeast of Munising is Sand Point Road, where you’ll find Munising Falls and Sand Point Beach. The 50-foot-waterfall is the first attraction about a mile down the road.

From the parking lot, walk up a short, paved trail along Munising Creek to the central platform to view the falls. There are also two sets of stairs leading to elevated platforms for varying views.

A popular spot for sunbathing and seeing amazing sunsets over Munising Bay, Sand Point Beach is known for its pink sand from crushed sandstone and views of Grand Island.

ADA accessible trails. Pets are permitted but must be on a 6-foot leash.

Best Waterfalls of the U.P.

Photograph a Sandstone Castle

Miners Castle. PC: Tim TrombleyMiners Castle. PC: Tim Trombley

Miners Castle is one of the most popular landmarks in the Pictured Rocks park. Erosion, weather, and Lake Superior have all played a role in creating the interesting rock formation. People of all abilities can easily view the castle as trails to the overlook are paved and easy to reach.

The trail to Miners Beach. PC: Instagrammer @dstill07The trail to Miners Beach. PC: Instagrammer @dstill07

Nearby Miners Beach offers gorgeous views of cliffs and Bridalveil Falls. Miners Falls, which requires 1.2-round trip walk in the woods to reach, is also close by. A castle, beach, and waterfall – what more could you want?

10 Breathtaking Photos of Pictured Rocks

Miners Beach and Miners Castle are ADA accessible. Pets are permitted on these trails but must be on a 6-foot leash.

Towering Cliffs, Unique Formations, and Even More Beaches and Falls

Chapel Rock viewed from the trail. PC: Instagrammer @trekkingmidwestChapel Rock viewed from the trail. PC: Instagrammer @trekkingmidwest

You’re guaranteed to see amazing sights when you hike the Chapel Basin area. Here, you’ll enjoy two beaches, waterfalls, and popular landmarks like Chapel Rock and Grand Portal Point.

Chapel Falls in the autumn. PC: Instagrammer @aadinallappaChapel Falls in the autumn. PC: Instagrammer @aadinallappa

The entire Chapel Basin Loop is just over 10 miles, but the 3-mile Mosquito Loop and 6-mile Chapel Rock Loop are also found within for those looking for something not as extensive. The trailhead parking lot is at the end of Chapel Road, approximately 15 miles northeast of Munising.

Not ADA accessible. Pets are not permitted on these trails.

Why Fall is the Perfect Time to See Pictured Rocks

Explore Tranquil Forests

Twelvemile Beach. PC: National Park Service.Twelvemile Beach. PC: National Park Service.

The Beaver Basin Wilderness includes 13 miles of stunning Lake Superior shoreline from Spray Falls to Sevenmile Creek, several miles of connector trails, six backcountry campsites. The beautiful Twelvemile Beach is also located in the Beaver Basin and is close to Grand Marais.

Hike trails are not ADA accessible. Pets are not permitted on these trails.

Tour a Historic Lighthouse

The Au Sable Light Station. PC: Instagrammer @maymiejamesonThe Au Sable Light Station. PC: Instagrammer @maymiejameson

There’s something daunting yet romantic about lighthouses and the Au Sable Light Station is no different. Built in the 1800s about 12 miles west of Grand Marais, tall pines and birch trees hover along the 1.5 (one way) path to the splendid 86-foot lighthouse. Tours are available from mid-summer to fall depending on staff availability.

Not ADA accessible. Pets are permitted but must be on a 6-foot leash.

See Where Loggers Once Rolled Timber Over Large Dunes

The Log Slide, Grand Sable Dunes. PC: National Park Service.The Log Slide, Grand Sable Dunes. PC: National Park Service.

Grand Sable Dunes are the highest formation in the park, rising more than 300 feet above the lake. Visit the Log Slide, where loggers once rolled timber down a fast chute over the dunes into the water! Sable Falls is also close by.

Not ADA accessible. Pets are permitted on trails but must be on a 6-foot leash.

42 Miles of Sweet Serenity

The Pictured Rocks on the North Country Trail. PC: Instagrammer @michiganaddictsThe Pictured Rocks on the North Country Trail. PC: Instagrammer @michiganaddicts

The North Country Trail stretches the entire 42-miles of the Pictured Rocks along the lake. If you’re into backcountry camping and want to spend a few days exploring the park, this is the way to go. There’s even a shuttle bus available to give you a ride back to where you started. Just make sure to make reservations ahead of time.

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Not ADA accessible. Pets are not permitted.

On the Trail is Great but…The Cliffs are Best Viewed by Boat or Kayak!

Miners Castle seen by water. PC: Craig BlacklockMiners Castle seen by water. PC: Craig Blacklock

Since the cliffs run along Lake Superior’s shoreline, it’s no surprise the park is best seen by water. Pictured Rocks Cruises – an authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service, which manages the national lakeshore, has provided tours for over 50 years.

Cruising along the cliffs. PC: Pictured Rocks CruisesCruising along the cliffs. PC: Pictured Rocks Cruises

Tours depart in front of the Pictured Rocks Cruises’ office and gift shop near the city dock in downtown Munising. Open daily from 8 a.m. until the last boat returns to the dock from mid-May through mid-October. Book your trip online or by calling (906) 387-2379.

If want to be in control of your own vessel which offers similar sights, plan a trip with Pictured Rocks Kayaking, the only outfitter in Munising that provides offshore launching.

Kayaking along the Pictured Rocks cliffs. PC: Pictured Rocks KayakingKayaking along the Pictured Rocks cliffs. PC: Pictured Rocks Kayaking

With the popular outfitter, passengers travel along the lakeshore aboard a kayak-launching boat and get to paddle the best parts of the park! Tickets can be purchased online or by calling (906) 387-5500.

Plan your Pictured Rocks excursion today and contact the Welcome Center in Munising for a visitor packet!

 

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