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Chapel/Mosquito Loop Hike – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI July 2016

pictured rocks national lakeshore, michigan

Pictured Rocks, MI – Chapel/Mosquito Loop Hike

View All Chapel/Mosquito Loop Photos | Video

  • Location – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI
  • Park Administration – National Park
  • Trailhead – Chapel Trailhead
  • Length Of Time Hiked – Day Hike
  • Miles Hiked – 15
  • Trail Type – Loop
  • Trail Difficulty – 2.5/10
  • Fires Allowed – Yes, in designated campsites, in metal rings only
  • Scenic Beauty – 8 (10 for Michigan, this is one of the crown jewels of the state!)
  • Solitude – 2 during peak season
Total distance: 14.59 mi
Max elevation: 856 ft
Min elevation: 594 ft
Total climbing: 2326 ft
Total descent: -2398 ft
Download

Pictured Rocks Maps

chapel beach mosquito beach map

Map of the Chapel and Mosquito areas

 

Pre Hike Details

If you are trying to plan a last minute overnight backpacking trip here during peak season, good luck! I wasn’t able to. Instead, due to ease of planning, I chose to do this as a day hike and camp in a campground nearby. I considered Little Beaver Lake campground due to it’s close proximity to the Chapel trailhead,  but it’s not possible to make reservations. It’s first come, first served and there are only 8 campsites. Twelve Mile Beach campground is the same, first come, first served. I believe it’s the same for all of the other Pictured Rocks campgrounds, but I didn’t check them all out. Instead, I started looking at nearby state forest campgrounds, and there were several in the area to choose from. No reservations here either, but I figured this would be my best bet at snagging a campsite.

I drove up Thursday evening and the Little Beaver Lake campground was full, as I expected. I proceeded to North Gemeni Lake campground which was about 10 minutes away, and found it less than half full. I was lucky to get a campsite on the lake, which had a pretty good view.

Chapel trailhead is only about 15 minutes away from the North Gemeni Lake campground, so it will be a short drive in the morning This is just as good as leaving from Little Beaver Lake campground, so camping here really worked out for me.

 

Chapel/Mosquito Loop Hike Route Description & Trip Report

Friday July 15th, 2016

early morning at chapel trailhead

Chapel Trailhead

We arrived at the Chapel trailhead around 8:30am. There were 4 other cars in the parking lot. The weather had been extremely hot lately (in the 90s downstate), but today was only forecast to be 60! A pleasant change, and very welcomed considering the number of miles we’d be covering today.

chapel falls from viewing area at pictured rocks

Chapel Falls

section 34 creek just upstream of chapel falls

Section 34 Creek

view from above chapel falls

Above Chapel Falls

The trail starts off as a very wide pathway, an obvious indicator of the heavy traffic this area receives. The trail runs through a fairly open forest alongside a gorge, which is out of sight from here. After about 1.2 miles, the trail swings closer to the edge of the gorge and we get our first glimpse of Chapel Falls. There’s a wooden platform built alongside the trail that gives a pretty good view of the falls, which are about 80 feet high. The falls are formed by Section 34 Creek flowing over the edge of the gorge. I guess “Section 34 Falls” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Chapel Falls.

hiker above chapel falls

Don’t try this at home

The trail then crosses Section 34 Creek and continues along the gorge. The trail goes by the top of the waterfall too which is a cool vantage point, but be careful here. At this point we started to see a few more people on the trail.  There wasn’t much of interest through the next 1.8 miles or so.

chapel rock at pictured rocks national lakeshore, mi

Chapel Rock

lake superior behind chapel rock

Chapel Rock

When the trail reaches the shore of Lake Superior, it basically dumps you out right at Chapel Rock. This is one of the major landmarks of Pictured Rocks. The rock here has been eroded away leaving this unique geological feature. What makes it really unique is that there’s a large tree growing out of the top, and it’s roots, which are quite large, are spanning a gap that’s maybe 12 feet. While you can get pretty close to Chapel Rock, it’s fenced off. The best pictures I’ve seen of Chapel Rock are from the water though. The lighting is better and the angle is more optimal. Chapel Beach has some good views of it as well.

chapel river flowing into lake superior

Chapel River meets Lake Superior

After leaving Chapel Rock we headed west a very short ways until we crossed a footbridge over Chapel Creek. Alongside the creek is a little footpath that leads down to the beach, or you could just walk further west along the trail to access the beach in numerous other areas. We chose this one though, and followed it a couple yards until it dumped out into Lake Superior. This was a pretty cool sight, seeing the water of the creek flow right into such a huge lake.

Kayaks at Chapel Beach

chapel beach at pictured rocks national lakeshore, mi

Chapel Beach

West end of Chapel Beach

We took a short break here on Chapel Beach to eat some food and just enjoy the scenery. There were a few more hikers passing through the area but still fairly light in terms of traffic. Back on the trail and heading west towards Mosquito Beach, we saw a bunch of Kayaks on the shores of Chapel Beach. The waves looked a little rough today as it was fairly windy, but then again, I imagine Lake Superior is often much rougher. It was last time I was here in June 2011.

Looking east along the shore of Lake Superior just north/west of Chapel Beach

After leaving Chapel Beach behind, the trail heads uphill a short ways and stays close to the edges of the cliffs. To the east, I could see Spray Falls dumping out into Lake Superior. Beyond that, Twelve Mile Beach. The trail along Lake Superior through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is part of the North Country Trail, which, when completed, will be the longest hiking trail in the US at 4600 miles. The section that runs through Pictured Rocks is called the Lakeshore trail and runs about 42 miles from Munising to the Grand Sable Visitor Center. I completed the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail in June 2011, although the weather was terrible. I’m glad to have long distance views like this and finally be able to see the real Pictured Rocks!

pictured rocks trail

Between Chapel Beach and Grand Portal point

trail along lake superior at pictured rocks, between chapel beach and grand portal point

As we continued on the trail, we encountered many interesting rock formations and coves. The color of the water is an awesome blue color, almost tropical looking. Don’t be fooled, that water is cold! The contrast of the blue color and the rocks makes for some pretty appealing photos. It took quite a while to work our way along the trail now as the views were just amazing, and we found ourselves stopping at every new vantage point we came across. There was an increasing number of hikers along the trail now.

pictured rocks distant view of grand portal point

Grand Portal Point in the distance

close up of grand portal point's east side

East side of Grand Portal Point

close up of seagul

When we reached the point that’s roughly halfway between Grand Portal Point and Chapel Beach, we took another break. At this point there are several ledges that provide an excellent view of an arch in the rock below Grand Portal Point in the distance. We found this area particularly appealing and decided it was worth an extended stay. These were the best views yet for me.

After leaving our break spot, we encountered more stunning views of the same area from different angles. The cliffs on the western side of this cove were pretty cool looking, consisting of different color bands in the rock including a vibrant pink. It’s easy to see where this area got the name Pictured Rocks.

grand portal point at pictured rocks

Grand Portal Point

When we arrived at Grand Portal Point, there wasn’t anyone else around, for the moment anyways. Even though this whole area was obscured in fog during my only other visit here previously, this was one of my favorite spots along the entire Lakeshore Trail. With the clear blue skies today, the same proved to be true.

Tons of people here at Grand Portal Point

Grand Portal Point

Before I had a chance to take any pictures, the area was swarmed by hoards of hikers passing by in both directions, and you can bet they stopped here. We waited for about 20 minutes as about 30 people made their way through the are before I had a clear shot. It was definitely worth the wait, this area is pretty stunning!

After leaving Grand Portal Point, views back to the east continue to please the eye. The trail continues to skirt the edges of the cliffs, but views are mostly obstructed by greenery. However, breaks in the often dense vegetation are numerous.

About a half mile hike west of Grand Portal Point we rounded another point. We stopped for a break here as well to soak in the incredible scenery. There were less people passing through this area and it was nice to have this little area to ourselves for a bit.

 

Now past the last major point along today’s hike, the trail drops in elevation a little bit and brings us a little closer to the water. For a brief time, we enjoyed a few more breaks in the trees allowing for more extended views of the shoreline. Eventually though, the vegetation breaks subsided and we found ourselves just covering ground in lieu of the grand views we had been so spoiled by earlier. This persisted much of the way to Mosquito Beach.

rocky shoreline of mosquito beach at pictured rocks national lakeshore, mi

Mosquito Beach

We made it to Mosquito Beach mid afternoon. We crossed the bridge over Mosquito River and headed down to the beach. The mouth of the river was wider than that of Chapel River, but still shallow enough to walk across if one was so inclined. Here at Mosquito Beach, there were large, round rocks scattered along the shoreline, unlike Chapel Beach.

Mosquito Beach Shoreline

We walked down the shoreline of Mosquito Beach for a while, but eventually route became impassible the ground behind us became steeper and started running into the water. We turned around and headed back to the mouth of Mosquito River.

mosquito river meets lake superior

Mouth of the Mosquito River

Back at the Mouth, we decided to head back to the car as we had basically seen everything we set out to see for the day. However, we did have one last place to visit, and that’s Mosquito Falls.

The hike to Mosquito Falls wasn’t particularly amazing after hiking the Lakeshore Trail, but hey, it can’t be incredible all the time right? We realized that if we had taken another trail from Mosquito Beach, we could have avoided a point-a-d back scenario to the falls, but that’s exactly what we did. The falls were another .9 miles each way from the junction of the trail we were on, so we went for it. Had we come in on the other trail, slightly west of the one we took, we could have walked right past the falls on the way back to the car. Oh well!

mosquito falls at pictured rocks national lakeshore, mi

Mosquito Falls

Mosquito Falls were only about 6-8 feet tall, but fairly wide in comparison to Chapel Falls. We didn’t stick around long as the thought of our post-hike meal was starting to rule our actions. Back at the junction of the Mosquito Falls trail and the trail we had taken from Mosquito Beach, it was only another half mile or so back to the trailhead.

When we arrived at the trailhead, it was much more full than this morning. By the way the cars were parked alongside the road leading into the trailhead, it’s obvious it was much more full earlier today and that it had actually cleared out. We headed over to the Bear Trap restaurant (H-58 & H-15) for some food afterwards. It’s the only restaurant in the vicinity that I saw. Decent food, but it sure hit the spot after today hike of nearly 16 miles.


North Country Trail Section Hike – Hwy 131 to Mesick, MI – Dec 2015

pink sky sunrise in winter over manistee river in michigan

View All Photos |  HD Video on Youtube

  • Location – Pere Marquette State Forest, MI
  • Trail – North Country Trail Section – Hwy 131 in Fife Lake to Mesick
  • Fees and Permits: none
  • Length Of Time Hiked – 2 days, 1 night
  • Miles Hiked – 25+
  • Trail Type – Point-to-point
  • Starting Point – Roadside park along Hwy 131 in Fife Lake (closed in winter for parking!)
  • Ending Point – 12/15 Rd Trailhead in Mesick
  • Route Difficulty – 3
  • Fires Allowed – Yes
  • Solitude – 7 (For Michigan)

Maps

Below is my caltopo map I created before the hike.

Notes

I’ve hiked the High Country Pathway, Manistee River Loop, Nordhouse Dunes and the Jordan River Valley, which I consider to be the top hiking destinations in the lower peninsula. However, I have not hiked any segments of the North Country Trail yet, other than the west bank of the Manistee River where the NCT, along with the Manistee River trail, helps form the extremely popular Manistee River Loop. I found a segment of the NCT that sparked my interest, running from Hwy 131 south of Fife Lake to Mesick, and and chose that for a weekend getaway. There really isn’t much info in NCT section hiking in the lower peninsula. I only managed to dig up a couple trip reports with very limited pictures.

This hike ended up being 25-27 miles. I forgot my GPS so I don’t know the exact mileage. The North Country Trail is extremely well marked throughout and follows the Manistee River the whole way through this section, making it hard to get lost.

The challenge with this hike is logistics. It’s a point-to-point and requires a shuttle from one end to the other. Fortunately I was able to secure a ride from my car to my starting point at Hwy 131 to make this hike happen.

Saturday December 19th, 2015

I woke up around 5am today and made the 1 hour drive over to the town of Mesick with my shuttle ride following behind. After dropping my car off near the 12/15 Rd Trailhead on the north side of the Manistee River just east of M-37, we headed towards my starting point, where the Manistee River meets Hwy 131. First, we passed through the small town of Manton to stop for breakfast. Gotta get that last hot meal in before setting out into the cold!

After breakfast we continued north on Hwy 131 until we crossed the Manistee River. On the east side of the road just north of the river is a roadside park where you can pick up the NCT. However, the roadside park is closed for the winter. My ride dropped me off in front of the gate and I was on my own from here.

I walked through the parking lot towards the river and quickly picked up the trail. Heading south/west, the trail immediately runs underneath Hwy 131. It was in the teens today and windy, with some flurries in the air. After a short while of walking I was warmed up and ready to cover some miles.

manistee river michigan near hwy 131 fife lake in winter

Manistee River at Hwy 131 in Fife Lake where I started

manistee river mi near hwy 131 along nct

The purpose of this hike was not only to get away and see this previously unexplored section of the Manistee River, but also to get a bunch of miles on my legs before my upcoming hike in Big Bend National Park in January 2016. I sprained my ankle in October and have been trying to slowly rehab it. After a few weeks of shorter walks, now is the time to do a more serious test and make sure I can handle a week in the desert.

river bends of mansitee river in michigan during winter

The river has many, many bends like this along the trail

north country trail view in pere marquette state forest michigan

Not far after leaving Hwy 131 behind, I came across a campground, aptly named Old Us-131 State Forest Campground. Here, there was one car parked and some foot prints in the snow.

Redneck Crapper

After passing the campground, I came across a railroad bridge crossing the river. Just past this bridge, there was a nice campsite with a nice overlook above the river. A little further down the trail was the first sign along the trail.

at the banks of the manistee river in winter

railroad bridge over manistee river

railroad tracks in forest in michigan during winter

sign along the north country trail

Sign near railroad bridge

Flurries continued to fall much of the morning and early afternoon. Not enough to really accumulate, but enough to set that winter mood. The trail has been very well marked and groomed making navigation easy, even with some snow to contend with.

manistee river viewed from north country trail

manistee river bend photo in winter

hiking along the manistee river with snow on ground

The trail passes right alongside the edge of some private property for a while before dumping you out at a road. From here, it’s time to walk to road for a while.

trees in michigan winter planted in rows

After leaving the road and back on a trail, it passes behind a house higher up the hill. after getting out of sight of this home, I don’t believe there’s any more buildings homes to pass along the rest of the hike. Good views of the river from here. The next section is a little hilly with some ups and downs.

a sign along the north country trail near baxter, mi

Sign marking the end of the road walk and the beginning of the NCT trail again

bend in the manistee river near baxter michigan

Near Baxter, back along the river again

hairpin bend in manistee river with snow on ground

Next I arrived at the Highbanks Rollway overlook. Here, there’s a wooden platform extending over the edges of the bluffs for a great view of the Manistee River and the the surrounding area. There was a sign up here that said it’s 200ft above the river, a massive view for the lower peninsula of Michigan. You could actually see a ways in the distance from here.

view from highbanks rollway

View from Highbanks Rollway

After leaving the Highbanks Rollway, the trail continued to follow the edges of the bluffs and good views ensued. I was ready to find a campsite, but was looking to be a little farther away from this area. I went around another bend in the river and felt like that was far enough, and started actively searching for a place to hang my hammock.

a sign along the north country trail near highbanks rollway

Sign near Highbanks Rollway

near highbanks rollway view of manistee river

West of Highbanks Rollway

When I found a place to camp, first thing I did was get a fire going. It was cold just sitting around and and I wanted the warm of the fire to warm my hands as I set up camp.

winter camping in michigan hammock hanging with campfire burning

After getting the fire going, I got the hammock up and decided to leave the tarp off and chance it. There was no mention of snow tonight so I figured it was a chance worth taking. Not messing with that tarp saved a lot of time.

warbonnet ridgerunner hammock setup with no tarp in winter

 

For dinner, I had sausage (cooked it at home and ground it up pretty good) and shredded cheddar cheese in some flatbread. It was wrapped in some aluminium foil, so all I had to do is throw it n the fire for a bit to warm it up. When it was soft to the touch, it’s done. And DAMN, was this thing good. I’m going to make more of these in the future when the temperature allows.

Before jumping in bed I put my boots in a garbage bag so that I could sleep with them under my top quilt. Frozen boots are NOT fun, lesson learned from my previous winter hike in January 2015.

Sunday December 20th, 2015

It was a cold night, in the teens. However, I was fairly warm all night with what I had. And the best part is, my boots were really warm when I put them on this morning.

After getting out of the hammock I headed down to the river overlook a few hundred yards away to watch a beautiful sunrise. Lots of reds and oranges, very colorful compared to the bright white that dominates most of the landscape.

pink sky sunrise in winter over manistee river in michigan

Sunrise over the Manistee River

After watching the sunrise, eating breakfast and packing up I got a move on. It was overcast now and waiting for the warm up. In fact, it was supposed to warm up to around 40 today. I wanted to cover some ground before things softened up and became slippery and muddy. For now everything was good underfoot.

winter december 2015 picture of manistee river

The trial continues to look and feel like it did yesterday. Some high banks with good views above the river and some lowlands here, passing through old logging fields that have been replanted or maybe alongside the river itself.

manistee river north country trail section

winter hiking along manistee river nct section

Occasionally near the river, there would be an access road leading to it. In some spots it looks like people just car camp there. I only saw one spot with some trash and it was minimal. I wondered if the fishing was any good from any of these spots by the river. Between Hodenpyl Dam and Red Bridge, roughly 15 miles southwest of here where I’ve hiked several time before, I never had any luck from the shore.

Manistee River December 2015

It was definitely warming up now. The clouds appeared to be thinning and although still overcast, more sun was bleeding through. Yesterday when I was hiking, it was much colder, and so having my base layer pants on underneath my hiking pants kept me at a pretty good temperature. Today though, I was sweating. A lot. I should have just stopped and removed them, but I kept pushing on. My decision ultimately ended up resulting in a good bit of chaffing, which always sucks.

view of bluff along manistee river

curve in manistee river

I knew I had to be getting close to my car at this point. The ground was getting getting soft now and the snow was melting. Eventually, I walked through a small dirt parking lot area alongside a road, with a sign at the trailhead. Cool, there’s my car. It was early afternoon now, and I was ready to get these boots off! 25+ miles in less than 36 hours, not bad. Hopefully I’m ready for Big Bend National Park next month.

trailhead at 12 15 rd for north country trail

Sign at the 12/15 Rd trailhead


Backpacking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI – June 2011

Pictured Rocks Backpacking Overview

Complete Pictured Rocks Photo Gallery

  • Location – Pictured Rocks, Michigan
  • Park – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (National Park)
  • Trail Hiked – North Country Trail
  • Miles Driven To Destination – 820 miles Round trip
  • Length Of Time Hiked – 5 days, 4 nights
  • Trail Type – Point to point
  • Miles Hiked – 42.5
  • Trail Difficulty – 2.5/10
  • Fires Allowed – Yes (in designated campsites only)

Pictured Rocks is one of the premier backpacking spots in Michigan. I had never been here and decided it was about time I go, but I didn’t have anyone to go with. I was planning this trip solo, but at the last moment my buddy Jesse decided to go with me. Literally, 12 hours before I left! I had extras of everything except a tent. This we would pick up on our way there.

 

Notes

Pictured Rocks is a point to point trail, and requires the use of a shuttle bus, second vehicle, or someone else picking you up and/or dropping you off. For most, the shuttle bus is the most convenient, and this runs you $20 per person, one way from Musnising Falls to the Grand Sable visitor center, or vice versa. Prices are as of June 2011.

To camp at Pictured Rocks, you need to reserve your campsites in advance. You can do that here: http://www.nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/upload/BackcountryReservationForm2011.pdf

There is a fee of $5 per night, per person due when you pick up your permit. You can pick up your permit at either end of the trail, Grand Sable or Munising Falls. Their locations are below:

Interagency Visitor Center – Munising Falls
400 East Munising Ave
Munising, MI 49862
906-387-3700

Grand Sable Visitor Center
E21090 County Rd H-58
Grand Marais, MI 49839
906-494-2660

trail map for hikers and backpackers

pictured rocks antional lakeshore mileage for hiking trails

Shows distance between campsites and landmarks

pictured rocks national lakeshore overview map of park

 

Day 1 – Monday June 20th, 2011

Miles Hiked – 7.1
Route – Grand Sable visitor center to Au Sable Point East

We stayed the night at Jesse’s sister’s place in Marquette the night before, and Munising was just a short 1 hour drive away from here. Once arriving in Munising, we stopped at the visitor center at the intersection of M-28 and H-58 to pick up our permits. Then it’s a short drive over to the parking lot, a few hundred yards away. Here we unpacked our gear from the car and made some last minute changes, and took our frozen foods out of the cooler and packed them with the rest of the food. We had burgers and italian sausages frozen, which would thaw slowly enough to make these possible for nights one and two’s dinner. I was trying out my new OP Saks as well, which are supposed to block the scent of your food so that animals cannot detect them. I guess we’ll put them to the test here.

Today was pretty cloudy and cool. The weather all week was not looking good… rain and cool temps throughout the week. The temperature right on Lake Superior can be drastically cooler than being inland only a few hundred feet due to tree cover. Being right along the lake, I knew it was going to be cold at times.

pictured rocks grand sable visitor center

By the time the shuttle arrived, there was a large group of hikers ready to board. I’d say 20 or so… not what we wanted to see. The ride to the Grand Sable visitor center takes about an hour, maybe a little less. Once off the bus, people scattered and went their separate ways. We went into the visitor center to fill up our water supply before heading out. By the time we hit the trail, about half the people had left in front of us. The leg of the trail goes straight into the woods from the visitors center, only to pop back out less than a mile away. Now, you follow the road we drove in on for a ways before heading back into the woods. We must have missed the sign for the trail on the road because we kept hiking the road for what seemed like a long time. Finally, there was a section of the trail that curved close enough to the road that we saw other hikers on it and realized our mistake, and jumped back on track.

pictured rocks sand dunes

The trail then wanders through the trees for another mile or two before you see a small trail intersecting the main trail, heading North towards Lake Superior. Upon further investigation, we realized this trail takes you into the Grand Sable Dunes. We dropped our packs went exploring through the dunes for a while. We found many wild strawberries here, although they were very small. This was a very cool place to check out along the trail if you have time. I wish we would have hiked around a little more through here but we wanted to make sure we got to where we needed to in time today, so before long we were back on the Lakeshore Trail.

pictured rocks log slide form the top

log slide from the top

See the guy at the bottom? This is 500ft up!

pictured rocks dunes view form log slide

Not much farther, we encountered another cool area called the Log Slide. Back when this area was being logged, they would slide trees down the side of this 500ft dune straight into Lake Superior. This was MUCH higher than it looks in the pictures, and offers on of the best views on the East side of the Lakeshore Trail. There was a guy at the bottom of the dune who was trying to climb up the entire time we were there, and it didn’t look like he made any progress at all. We stopped here for another 20 minutes or so before continuing along.

pictured rocks - au sable point east campsite

Au Sable Point East campsite. The tiny blue “junior scout tent” is Jesse’s

We weren’t far now from of campsite at Au Sable Point East. Throughout the day, we saw several hikers in multiple groups, many if which were not on the shuttle with us. There were so many people we didn’t bother counting. Once we got to our destination, we found that the campsite is really more of an area with multiple campsites that are on a first come basis. There were already a few other groups of people her who had taken the best spots, but ours was decent. Just no real privacy here, it seemed like people were all around you. Shortly after setting up camp, a forest ranger came through here on foot checking permits. He told us he had seen a bear earlier today, I believe by Kingston Lake.

Lake Superior near Au Sable Point East campsite

Lake Superior near Au Sable Point East campsite

Mouth of Hurrican River

Jesse fishing Hurricane River

We had a few hours left before sundown, so we decided to hike over to Hurricane River and try fishing. This was about a 1.5 mile hike each way from Au Sable Point East. About halfway in between Hurricane River and camp is Au Sable Point, a lighthouse and what seemed to be a museum of sorts. There didn’t appear to be anyone here, nor was anything open. Another 15 minutes past the lighthouse is the river, which we fished for about an hour tops. After getting chewed up by mosquitoes and having no luck, we headed back, ready for dinner. We headed down to the beach to find a place to cook, and found a large rock in the sand that would block all the wind if we cooked behind it. The burgers came out crispy on the outside and raw inside, but still pretty good.

Grillin’ on the beach

 

Day 2 – Tuesday June 21st, 2011

Miles Hiked – 11.8
Route – Au Sable Point East to Pine Bluff

Dark clouds lingered offshore as we awoke Tuesday morning. We were pretty sure it was going to rain, so before leaving camp we put on our rain gear. It was pretty cold out too, so the extra clothing wasn’t a problem. Having already hiked the next 1.5 mile section of the trail last night on our way to and from Hurricane River, we decided to hike along the shore of Lake Superior. Although it was a little slower going, there was more to see here than back on the trail itself. Lots of cool rock formations along the beach and submerged in the water. We stopped to filter some water in a calm pool on the beach which was much easier than standing on rocks that protrude out into the Lake as we attempted last night. With a full supply of water and full stomachs, we were ready to cover some ground. Today we’ll hike 12 Mile Beach in it

Hurricane River

Once we reached Hurricane River, we jumped back on the Lakeshore Trail and continued West. It started to rain around this time, and continued to do so on and off until the day we left. My rain gear was all new, and this was the first time I had a chance to wear it. I bought Outdoor Research Revel rain jacket and pants after reading some good reviews. Jesse made the mistake of wearing cotton clothing, because that’s all he had before we left home. For rain gear he used a set of Frogg Toggs, XL size. However, after it started raining he failed to put his hood on, and as a result all of his clothing ended up getting wet underneath the rain gear.

Mouth of Seven Mile Creek

Since it was raining, we were moving fairly fast as there was no point in stopping. Before we knew it, we were crossing Seven Mile Creek. The way these rivers dump right out into the Lake is pretty cool. These river mouths seemed to twist and wind before actually running out into the Lake for some reason. We had a brief break in the drizzle now, and we took a minute to hang out near the creek and take a quick rest here. We found a snapping turtle under a log, handle was a pretty good size. We joked around about wanting to eat him, then it was back to the trail. Not long after this, we saw a bald eagle fly over head as well.

The section of trail we were hiking on today was known as 12 mile beach. I’d have to say this most boring day of the entire trip. The beach is literally 12 miles long, and there’s not much to see here. Due to the rain, we didn’t leave the trail at all really, just tried to keep moving. The beach didn’t look particularly interesting here, but we also didn’t take the time to check it our either. Towards the western end of 12 mile beach, you enter the Beaver Basin Wilderness. This section was much more wooded and a nice change after what seemed like a long stretch of shoreline.

Old car in the Beaver Basin Wilderness

At one point, we came across an old car in the middle of the woods. It looked like there used to be an old single track road running through here, but that must have been a long time ago. About halfway through the Beaver Basin Wilderness we reached our campsite, Pine Bluff. There was one other campsite taken by 2 guys, but the rest were empty. We set up camp as it sprinkled, and were basically confined in our tents for the rest of the evening due to the constant precipitation. What made this worse was that today is the longest day of the year, so the sun is up until around 10pm. I find it hard to sleep unless it’s dark out, so I laid awake for hours before being able to fall asleep.

 

Day 3 – Wednesday June 22nd, 2011

Miles Hiked -7.1
Route – Pine Bluff to Chapel Beach

It was raining when we woke up today. It was also pretty cold out, definitely in the 40s, so getting out of bed was a real challenge. My shoes and socks still completely soaked, so putting those on sucked to say the least. Finally out of the tent, it was still raining so I worked fast to pack up my tent and get ready.

Jesse actually had it worse than me though. When we bought his tent on the way here, we accidentally bought him the “Junior Scout Tent” for kids. Not only did he have to sleep in the fetal position, but he woke up with a LOT of water inside his tent. Now, everything he had was soaked, including his sleeping bag and all clothing. His cotton clothing was doomed after this, and he stayed wet for the remained of the trip. I was mostly dry, except my feet. The Merrell Moab Ventilators I wore were a bad choice in footwear for this trip, but there was nothing we could do now except keep moving.

It rained throughout the morning as we hiked our way through the Beaver Basin Wilderness. We passed what we thought at first to be a small cave, but was more of an overhang in the rock, really. We decided to take shelter in here so we could get out of the rain and cook lunch. Since it was raining last night, we didn’t cook our italian sausages as planned, and they were completely thawed out by now. Being frozen until hitting the trail, and then insulated in my backpack with these cool temps, I wasn’t worried about it being safe. Plus, I have an iron gut!

Wouldn’t you know it? As soon as I started cooking, the rain let up. This was nice because we got a chance to explore around this area for a little while after eating. I climbed up to the top of the rock formation for the hell of it. Finally, it wasn’t raining!

Back on the trail, the landscape started changing. Now, there were picturesque beaches and cliffs around every turn. We saw a few waterfalls pouring right into Lake Superior. With all the rain, they were gushing in spots that probably were barely a trickle normally. I really wish the weather would have been nice and sunny, as it would have been fund to explore off the trail here. I could still see rain clouds offshore and it always looked like rain wasn’t far away. We passed Chapel Rock and took some pictures, but were eager to get to to camp and we knew we were close.

By late afternoon, we had reached Chapel Beach, our campsite for the night. There were no other people here to share camp with today. The weather was teasing us with brief moments of sunshine, so we hung our clothes and sleeping bags from the trees to dry them out after getting the tents up. These campsites at Chapel Beach were nice, compared to the others we stayed at. Our site was perched right above a river, Chapel River I believe. We tried fishing it for a while before giving up. We then decided to go down to Chapel Beach and check that out before it decides to rain again. While getting ready to g to the beach, the temperature felt like it dropped 20 degrees at once.

Mouth Of Chapel River With Chapel Rock Behind

Chapel Beach

Once down to the beach, it looked like the fog was starting to roll in. It was very cold, there was a frigid wind coming off the lake. This was going to stop us from enjoying the beach, just from swimming. We walked over to the point where Chapel River pours into the Lake. The water temperature of the river felt 20 degrees warmer than the air, and looked like it had steam or mist coming off it. We crossed the river and got some pictures from the other side, as well as some photos of the 6 foot swells crashing on the rocks near the shore. We then walked over to the West side of the beach and sat down for a while to take it all in. By the time we left to go back to our campsite, the cliffs on the West end were completely engulfed in fog. This fog never lifted until our last day.

 

Day 4- Thursday June 23rd, 2011

Miles Hiked – 11.3
Route – Chapel Beach to Cliffs

When I woke up, it was not raining at the moment but had been on and off throughout the night. Everything was still wet, and it was another fun morning putting on cold, wet shoes and socks. Once I got moving though, my feet were fine for the rest of the day. The cold goes away and you just get used to having your feet completely soaked after a while. We didn’t bother stepping around puddles anymore, there was no point. My gaiters seemed to help a great deal keeping the debris out of my shoes though, so they weren’t too muddy, just wet.

West of Chapel Beach

Today’s hike, along with yesterday’s, were the coolest part of the hike for both of us. This is the area where all the tour boats come to see the cliffs and colorful rock formations. I can only image how beautiful it would have been on a sunny day. The fog was extremely thick today, sometimes only a few hundred feet at most for visibility. This made it impossible to get any long distance pictures.

Grand Portal Point

grand portal point, pictured rocks, mi

Just West of Chapel Beach is Grand Portal Point. On the trail, we were looking north through a clearing in the trees and saw a wide open area filled with fog. It was a flat, rocky area that suddenly drops a few hundred feet straight down into Lake Superior. At times the fog was so thick that I couldn’t even see the water below! After a few pictures, we hit the trail again. There were several other scenic vistas along the way, and we stopped for most, even if only for a minute or two.

Mosquito Beach

Cave on Mosquito Beach

The next noteworthy area we encountered was Mosquito Beach. I’m glad the foul weather was keeping all of the bugs away, because I didn’t care to find out if this beach lived up to it’s name. Hey, there’s ONE good thing about this weather! We hiked the beach, which really just a series of rocky plates and ledges, until we found a cave at a point. Inside were two people having lunch. They said we could join them, in the cave, so we stopped to eat lunch as well. It was a mother and her son, the mother was actually a geologist and was telling us about the formation and history of this “beach”. They left shortly thereafter. We walked down the beach Westward and encountered Mosquito River pouring into the lake. This wasn’t as spectacular as some of the other rivers though.

It was mid afternoon now and the fog still had not lifted. Hiking through the mist filled forest was eerie but very cool at the same time. We passed many more overlooks that were blocked by the fog, and we were left to imagine what could have been. Between Mosquito River and Miners River, we began to hear the roar of a waterfall in the distance.Eventually the trail led us to a 30 foot waterfall which we were able to walk behind.

pictured rocks national lakeshore near mouth of miners river

Miners River Near Mouth

As you near Miners River, the trail runs close to an open beach. We stopped to check out a small stream that was gushing water out onto the beach. It was flowing over a rock ledge, creating a 6 foot waterfall. Just a little farther down the trail and we reached Miners River. This was a larger, deeper looking river than the others we’d seen so far. It looked very promising to fish, so we stopped to try our luck. I threw in a few casts before giving up. While Jesse fished, I followed the river to it’s mouth. The river was 50ft wide in spots, and ended up pouring into Lake Superior through a 4 foot wide channel, carved between the beach and a cliff.

It was raining on and off throughout the afternoon, and as Jesse was fishing it started again. Shortly after leaving the river, the trail goes through the Miners Castle Overlook area. There were a handful of people here, but with the fog you still couldn’t see very far. There is a paved parking lot here, along with nice restrooms. It was raining fairly hard here, and we tried waiting it out under the awning for a few minutes before it died down and we were on our way again.

The cliff’s campsite was not much farther from here, we made it in a half hour or so. It was just us here again tonight, which was fine with us. Nobody was out here in this weather but us. It rained as we set up our tents, and didn’t stop all night. We wanted to cook hot dogs tonight, but the relentless rain trying to thwart our plans. We had one extra poncho, and I had an idea. We found a spot under a tree that we could rig the poncho up as a makeshift tarp to cook under. This poncho was small, and we could barely fit underneath it. We also had to tip water off of it every so often so that it would not either drip on us, or collapse the entire thing. But, this got the job done and it was nice to have a hot meal. It was also nice not being confined to the tent, at least for a little while. Then, it was back to the tent again. It rained the hardest and most frequently tonight of any time we had been here.

Day 5 – Friday June 24th, 2011

Miles Hiked – 6.4
Route – Cliffs to Munising Falls

We were both ready to go home when we woke up this morning. One last day of cold, wet shoes. For Jesse, everything he had was soaked completely.It wasn’t raining so we made the best of our time and got on the trail quickly. Like I said, we were ready to go home. We had been talking about getting a meat lover’s pizza when we get back home, which was now just a 6.4 mile hike and a 7 hour drive away.

Most of the exciting scenery had ended yesterday around Miners Castle, and the trail was relatively boring now at this point. We did pass a few small waterfalls, but nothing spectacular. The fog had mostly gone today and now visible for the first time was Grand Island.Past Sand Point, we saw a crew of volunteers repairing a bridge over a small stream crossing. We knew we were close now. I was feeling fine physically, but Jesse was getting pretty tired. Only a mile or two from the parking lot now, we saw a deer. She was about 50 feet away, and we became very still and quit as I pulled out my camera. The deer actually started walking straight towards us. She then began to circle us, but we remained still and got a pictures.

We were back at the car around noon, and first thing we did was change out of our wet clothes. The bathrooms were under construction, so we changed in the parking lot.

Across the street was “Dog Patch Restaurant”, which we ate at for lunch. This place had a weird theme of old country folk cartoon characters all over the walls. A burger and fries hit the spot, and we were on our way back home, looking forward to the traditional post hike pizza!

 

Final Thoughts

I feel like I really got screwed with the weather. While the fog of day 4 offered some unique photo opportunities, I was hoping for a sun filled week with amazing sunrise and sunsets. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

My rain gear did an excellent job of keeping me dry, and If it weren’t for my poor choice in footwear, I might have stayed completely dry the whole trip.

This is a pretty easy hike. There is very little ups and downs, and none of them are steep. This would be a great place to take inexperienced hikers or those who want to do a long hike but might not be prepared for more challenging locations. There is almost no need for a map and compass here, the trail follows the Lake for 42 miles. Simple.

I highly recommend this hike! There is a lot to see here, so plan extra time for side trips.

 

As always, questions and comments are welcome!

If you found my trip report useful, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment! Alternatively, if you feel you have any information you’d like to share with others regarding this hike, please feel free to leave that below in a comment as well.

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