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Backpacker Magazine – May 2013

First Night Out: Water

Three beautiful water-side hikes

by: Sarah L. Stewart and Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Chapel Beach Loop, Lakeshore Trail (Willard Clay)
Chapel Beach Loop, Lakeshore Trail (Willard Clay)

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI
Chapel Beach Loop

Plenty of hikes lead to a spectacular waterfall, an unspoiled lake, or a white-sand beach. Few showcase all three—especially in a mere 6.5 miles of easy hiking, as does this Upper Peninsula gem. Set out through northern hardwoods on the Chapel Falls Trail to see the 60-foot cascade tumbling down a rock wall above pristine Chapel Lake at mile 1.3. Press on to Chapel Rock, a stone pedestal jutting from the mainland at mile 3.1, for views across Lake Superior; depending on the light, the waters below range from emerald green to Bahama blue. Continue on to Chapel Beach, a secluded stretch of sand tucked in a cove whose shallow waters warm to a swimmable mid-60s in high summer; six campsites sit in the hardwood-conifer forest a short dune climb above the beach. Claim a site, then follow the 1.5-mile spur west from camp to Grand Portal Point, where 200-foot walls of layer-cake sandstone line the water’s edge, evidence of 300 million years of sedimentary deposits. Fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves and the occasional wolf howling in the distance; day two, close the loop along the western edge of Chapel Lake.

Go August for the warmest water, September for fewer bugs and people Get there From Munising, go 13.9 miles east on CR 58 to a left turn on Chapel Rd. (gravel), then continue 5 miles to the trailhead. Permit Required; $5/person/night Map NCTA Grand Marais to Au Train Lake ($7, northcountrytrail.org) Contact nps.gov/piro





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