Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore ~ #1

Advice from a Lake:  Be clear/Make positive ripples/Look beneath the surface/Stay calm/Shore up friendships/Take time to reflect/Be full of life ~ (c) Ilan Shamir  http://www.yourtruenature.com

Fall has announced her arrival to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  While not at their peak yet, the trees are changing color daily.

Pictured Rocks was our destination and we arrived Monday afternoon at the City of Munising Tourist Park.  There was no one at the campground office so we perused the sites, grabbed one on the lake, paid our fee and settled in.  Later that afternoon Terry walked back to the office to ensure all was well and was told by the attendant that we had chosen the best site in the park.  Maybe she says this to everyone but we certainly think we got lucky.  Stepping out our door, we are literally 20 yards from Lake Superior.  Full hook-ups and right on the water.  Life is good!

It was a little blustery when we arrived but was still warm enough to walk along the beach.  We felt like we were walking along the ocean instead of a lake, watching the waves lapping the shore.  We can walk a mile in either direction and the views from our living room windows are amazing!

Sunset over Lake Superior

Tuesday morning we decided to get the lay of the land.  Our first stop was to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Visitor Center, where we picked up literature on available activities in the area.  I learned that Michigan has more waterfalls than any other state in the U.S. and more shoreline than any state besides Alaska.

From here it was time to do some exploring.  Our first stop was to Munising Falls, a 50′ drop into a sandstone canyon.  Lovely and right within the city of Munising.

Munising Falls

Just a few miles down the road is Sand Point, a picturesque little cove just begging to be photographed.

Sandstone cliffs 5 miles from Munising Falls are known as Miners Castle, for the turret-shaped rock caused by wind and water erosion.  This 9-story rock formation is one of Pictured Rocks most popular attractions.

Kayakers Enjoying the Views of Miners Castle
View from the top of Miners Castle

A one-mile hike through a beech and maple forest and we were rewarded with a view of one of the lakeshore’s most spectacular sights – Miners Falls.  The falls of the Miners River cascade over a 60-foot precipice of sandstone and they were stunning.

Miners Falls

The weather predictions have been for clouds and the possibility of rain over the next couple of days but we refused to let that deter us.  Today we ventured out to get a good day hike in.  It proved to be a sunny day instead and we settled on the Chapel Basin hike.

This is a 10 mile hike weaving through dense beech and maple forests, opening up onto sandy beaches, with Pictured Rock views from almost every turn, and the “cherry on top” was a great waterfall.  Normally a hike of this length would not keep us out 6 hours but today that is just what we did.  There was just too much to see and we wanted to take advantage of the great weather as we know our days of sunshine may be numbered.

The first leg of our journey took us through forest to Mosquito Beach, with gorgeous views of Lake Superior.  The photo below is looking east across the beach.  Notice what the wave action has done to the sandstone formation.

Mosquito Beach

Looking to the west on Mosquito Beach are caves known as the Caves of the Bloody Chiefs, which legend says were used by ancient chiefs to tie captives and let Lake Superior batter them to death.  A rather gruesome story but a lovely sight nonetheless.

View of Caves of the Bloody Chiefs on Mosquito Beach

Three miles further down the trail we saw a breathtaking sight I am sure has captured many a photographer’s eye, Grand Portal Point.  Until September 16, 1900, it contained a massive arch through which a small ship could sail.  Kayakers could still paddle through a small archway until Grand Portal suffered a second collapse in late 1999, inhibiting all boat activity.

The colors and textures that presented themselves along this trail were too numerous to count.

Another 1.5 miles down the trail and we arrived at Chapel Beach and the beautiful Chapel Rock formation.

First View of Chapel Rock
Stunning Up-Close View of Chapel Rock

Back on the trail and we were shocked to see that the tree sitting atop Chapel Rock still has its lifeline on the mainland.  Notice how the root system is suspended over the chasm.

 Although dense, we were surprised at how far into the forest we could see from the trail.  The canopy was high above us and the forest floor was covered mainly with ferns.

Last but not least was a stop at Chapel Falls, the final stunner for this hike.  It has a 60′ cascade and flows down to the base of Chapel Rock.

Terry and I have done our fair share of hiking and feel that today’s hike is at the top of our list of favorite forays into the wilderness.  We can’t wait to continue our UP exploration.

Our Rig at Dusk

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