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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Trail

mi

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 46.8 miles


This trail follows the North lakeshore of Lake Superior. The terrain varies from really easy to moderate. The trail encounters sand dunes, a limestone beach, and many waterfalls. The Lakeshore Trail is part of the North Country Trail.
  • Log Slide
  • Sable Falls
  • Chapel Rock
  • Waves on the rocks
  • Chapel Rock

If the Appalachian or Pacific Crest trails are too long for you, the Lakeshore Trail may be what you have been looking for.  This 42 mile hike is an excellent week-long backpacking adventure.  The views you will experiance here are like no where else in the United States.  
Hiking along the Lakeshore Trail, you will cover various terrain.  There are sand dunes, sandy beaches, rocky beaches, limestone beaches, a large amount of waterfalls, deep-forest hill-climbing, and much more.
For a thru-hike you will have to park at one end, and get a ride to the other end.  Pictured Rocks has a public transit available to hikers.  Call for reservations. Visit www.altranbus.com/backpack.html for more information.  Contact information:
ALTRAN Public Transit
530 East Munising Avenue, P.O. Box 69
Munising, MI 49862
906-387-4845
The Route-east to west If you choose to start in Munising, you start at just a few minute hike from one of the tallest waterfalls on the trail, Munising Falls.  After Munising Falls you follow the trail to Sand Point.  If time allows follow the side trail to the point for great views of Grand Island.  If not, follow the trail to Miner's Castle.  This is a nice view overlook.  If you do not make it to Miner's Castle stay at the Cliffs campsite, if you do make it to Miner's Castle hike a few miles past and stay at the quite, hidden Potato Patch campsites.
From here, depending on how much time you have you can choose two different paths. If you do not have an extra day, follow the Lakeshore Trail to Mosquito Beach.  Mosquito Beach is a beautiful, limestone layered beach that is a marvel to all.  From there travel east to Grand Portal Point, the highest rockface of the trail. Follow the trail to Chapel Beach.  This beach has many rock features that you do not see elsewhere on the trail.  Continue to the Coves campsites. 
If you have an extra day, stay at a Chapel beach campsite for a night.  In the morning, go south on the Chapel Falls trail.  Make sure you are on the trail that leads to Chapel Falls though, if you follow the Chapel Lake to Trailhead trail you will not see the Falls.  The Chapel Falls trail is to the east of the campsites and is well marked.  Follow this side-trail south around a loop, past a trailhead and than head north to Mosquito Falls.  Make sure you follow the trail to Mosquito Falls, not Mosquito Beach or again you will otherwise miss the best parts of the trail.  This trail then leads back to Mosquito Beach, which you have passed before.  Depending on your pace, stay here or go back around Grand Portal Point and stay at Chapel Beach again, or press on to Coves campsites. 
This is where the trail gets a bit dull.  You will travel by Beaver and Trapper Lakes and while you can take the side-trails to the lakes, they take a while and are rather uneventful.  Once past these lakes you come to Twelvemile Beach.  This is the worst part of the trail for hikers.  The trail goes from firm soil to sand, twelve miles of sand to be exact. While the lake and beach are both beautiful, this part of the hike becomes rather nerve-racking.  Stay at one of the campsites, depending on how long you go before getting fed up with the sand, Sevenmile or Benchmark are both good. 
Once past Twelvemile beach the trail gets easy again for a while.  You hike past Hurricane River towards Au Sable Light Station, the only lighthouse on the trail.  Depending on your speed you can choose to stay here or travel on to the Log Slide. The Log Slide is a very steep sand dune that was used for logging in the past.  The views of the dunes are amazing from the bottom but the climb back up almost makes it not worth while.  Still, it is a marvel and if you feel you can make it go ahead and try.  After the Log Slide, stay at the Masse Homestead campsites just a few miles east.  Realize that there is not water here so fill up at Au Sable east or off the fountain at Log Slide (which may not be on depending on the season).
On the final day, travel to Sable Falls, a spectacular waterfall, and than to your car.
NOTE: As shown above this trail can take anywhere from 5-7 days depending on pace.  If you want to do a week-long trip or are ahead of pace, stay in the area you like the most an extra night.
Season The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore if open all-year and has a system of cross-country ski trails near Munising.  Some roads may be closed for snow, which the Upper Penninsula receives a lot of.
For permits in the off season, (from Labor day to Memorial Day) you must get them in person at the Interagency Visitors Center in Munising.  During the normal hiking season, you can also visit the Grand Sable Visitors Center in Grand Marais. Visit http://www.nps.gov/piro/ for more information on the park.
Safety Black flies and mosquitos are very prevelant from May to September so be prepared.  Also, there are bears along the trail so always hang food.  Some sites have bear poles or bear lockers.  Always hang food, even if only leaving for a minute.  Racoons are a nuisance on the trail and will always be close by.  As the weather changes almost constantly in Michigan, especially near the lakes, be sure to pack a jacket, even if it is the middle of summer.  Strong storms from the north can bring frigid temperatures within minutes.  If expecting rain, try to camp as far from Lake Superior as possible, as the winds can get fierce.  The rock-faces of Pictured Rocks can be anywhere from 50 to 200 feet high.  Do not stand near the edge.  Limestone is very brittle and can collapse at any time. 
Gear Depending on the season you will want different base clothing.  For this trail, expect to bring two sets of clothing, hot and cold weather.  As this trail is not too strenuous, adecuate trail shoes are just as acceptable as boots.  Be sure to bring rope to hang food bags, as not all campsites have bear poles.  Although all water along the trail is freshwater, always filter before consuming.  Some sites, such as Mosquito Beach, do not allow fires.  Bring a cook stove or eat cold foods when here.
NOTE:  GPS coordinates are not accurate.  It is near impossible to get lost along the trail as long as you have a map, as the trails are well defined and marked. 

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