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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
What follows is a brief but photographically visual account of my through-hike of the Pictured Rocks area in Michigan's UP last September. After three years of living in the area (well, 3 hours away) my wife and I decided it was finally time to head over and see what those Pictured Rocks were all about...Boy, were we glad we did!
After rising well before the sun and packing our car, we drove the 3 hours to the Park Headquarters in Munising to arrange for our permits, etc. at 8:00. We parked our car and hopped on the shuttle for the Grand Marais side of the park, and arrived around 11:00. From there, it was all on foot for the next 45 miles until we reached our car again!
Just about to hit the trial at the Grand Sable trailhead.
The beginning of our journey...
After hiking for several miles, we finally came out at a place called "Log Slide" at the crest of the Grand Sable Dunes. From there we headed to our campsite at East Au Sable...
Log Slide (the lake is ~300 feet below...)
Where the Grand Sable Dunes meet Lake Superior. Epic!
Taking a break after an easy first day...
The lighthouse at Au Sable Point
We awoke to a beautiful, calm morning and a great sunrise over the dunes. This day was going to be a long one, with over 15 miles planned, and not much expected in the ways of scenery...
Sunrise over the dunes
Contrary to popular belief, the entire lakeshore is not cliffs...this is along Twelvemile Beach. (You guessed it: 12 miles long!)
Today was the epic day: our first taste of the famed cliffs! We got to hike a beautiful 10 miles along the tops of cliffs as much as 200 feet tall.
Near Spray Falls, approaching the highest cliffs
Chapel Rock is one of the most visited (and, sadly, abused) places in the park
Approaching Grand Portal Point, one of the wonders of the park
Typical sandstone cliffs and beautiful waters of Lake Superior
Yours truly atop a random feature along the trail
This gives a good idea of the height of the cliffs!
Many of the cliffs are beautifully striped or colored otherwise, hence the name
Miner's Beach at sunset
This would be our last day in the area...we woke up nice and early to hike the final 8 miles to our car and the 3 hours drive home. What a great trip!
I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes last year, and was totally amazed with Northern Michigan. I saw some pics of Painted Rocks on our trip, and vowed to go there sometime this year. Your pictures are fantastic, and I want to go now more than ever.
if you thought that northern lower michigan was awesome, wait until you get to the UP! it is a whole order of magnitude more beautiful/rugged/amazing! let me know if you need some ideas of places to visit, otherwise be sure to check out my page and dwhike's pages for lots more info and ideas! enjoy :)
thank you bob :)
lake superior is certainly no mountain, but it has a captivating beauty all its own...it's tough to beat the raw wildness and power of lake superior (it's similar to a mountain, but in its own ways)
thanks for stopping by!
Great TR. My only trip to the Pictured Rocks was 10 years ago, and Chapel Rock was a spiritual experience. When I was there the tree atop Chapel rock had roots running over the gap and back to the 'mainland'. Your picture shows no roots and you have a caption stating that Chapel Rock had suffered abuse in some way. What is going on with it? I will be very sad to learn it was desecrated.
if i remember correctly, there is at least one root that still spanned it (it is not visible off to the right) unfortunately there were many signs of vandalism (carvings, etc.) as well as littering around the area. it was fenced off to prevent people from climbing on it and ruining it, but it was very obvious that these measures were frequently ignored. it was in decent shape, but it was evident that it had seen better days...
still, it was a wonderful place to visit! too bad a few have to ruin it for the rest of us, eh?
thanks mark :)
the UP is totally worth it for a shorter drive and more reasonable budget (though for you it's probably just as close to head to the appalachians...) the Big Lake is something truly amazing to behold!
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."