If you followed my previous blog post, then you probably caught that I only revealed pictures and (scant) details of our hike along the Lake Superior shores in the Pictured Rocks National Park. I didn’t intentionally omit the hike details, but I didn’t want to overdo it on the words, since I know that not everyone wants to read hundreds of them. Of course, you can always scan ahead to the pictures that you’ve likely come to expect here. (Are you still reading? You are? Okay, I’ll go on.) I did intentionally split up the pictures from our trip to da U.P. because I took nearly 700 of them. I think the button must have gotten stuck on my camera 😉
If you happen to love hiking like we do, then tackling most of the park’s features in one day is fairly doable. I’m not saying you’ll see all there is to see, but you’ll definitely hit the highlights – especially if you wake up early with plans to do so. In addition to the breathtaking beauty of the cliffs along the lakeshore, the area around Munising offers a stunning array of waterfalls. Some require a moderate hike (think ~3 miles round-trip), some require a heftier hike (think more than 3 miles, but you know I didn’t look at that map long enough to gauge distances!), some require a boat trip for optimum viewing, but some require only a few steps. And there’s the Alger Falls that you just pull over for roadside enjoyment 🙂
…So, onward! To the rest of the park!
Next we stopped at the Miners Falls on the way to Miners Castle (first pictures in yesterday’s set). This hike was a bit longer at just over a mile, but still a breeze. The entire trail consisted of crushed gravel that meandered slowly down to the overlook through towering forests and carpets of lush moss. There were people below the falls, but I was a good girl, and I stayed on the trail.
This is the point at which things got silly and we decided that we’d link up two falls by our longer than expected coast trek on the North Country Trail. We left the trailhead (side note: we drove down that rutted, muddy road in a GTI, and while I wouldn’t necessarily want to do that in a wet spring, if the GTI can make it, whatever you decide to drive there probably can too.) and headed to Mosquito Falls.
Shortly into the hike we noticed a
mosquito factory swamp, curiously perched higher than the trail. It looks icky, and I probably definitely don’t want to swim there, but a cool diversion worth a look, at any rate.
The Mosquito Falls are actually divided into two smaller sets of falls. Out of all the falls we saw in the park, this set was least impressive. However, it was pretty, and the path beyond the falls wound its way through a Fern Gully of a forest. Also, it ended at a truly spectacular beach, which makes the whole length worth it.
Despite the lack of signage, it became obvious when we were nearing the beach, because we could hear and occasionally feel the waves slamming into the shore. In fact, a few times along our coastal journey we actually got splashed from the angry waves several stories below. From Mosquito Beach – which, thanks to the cooler weather and ferocious winds, did not live up to its name – we traipsed along Lake Superior for several miles until we ended up at the end of the trail for Chapel Falls.
Chapel Falls is one you should schedule a trip to with more than twenty minutes to spare till sunset. There’s a great view from a distance, or I assume it’s a great view when it’s actually lit with a hint of sun. In the future, I’ll plan my trip to spend some time here when the light isn’t quickly fading and I’m not worried about how well my phone will serve as a flashlight.
Skip ahead to Sunday morning (Saturday’s adventures in Part 3), when we hiked the 3 miles out-and-back to the Au Sable lighthouse, and also checked out the Mary Jarecki shipwreck that’s well-marked along the trail.
From there, we continued east to the log chute overlook. Spoiler: rant ahead. Log Chute sounds like a pretty cool thing to see, considering the area’s history with logging. Apparently newspaper accounts describe the large timbers plunging down the chute to the lake ~200 feet below, and generating enough heat to catch fire. Very cool. Only it’s not there any more, but you’re free to imagine it. Thanks, Park Services, for that. Fortunately there are excellent views of the lighthouse we had just left and the UP’s dunes. Satisfactory.
For the last stop in our Pictured Rocks tour, we climbed down the short hike of many stairs to view the Sable Falls. I point this out because there’s no real mention that you might be too winded to be polite on the climb back to the top like that lady I passed on my way down 😉 If you’ve seen enough of the park, you’d be fine to turn back at the base of the falls, but we made the rest of the trip out to the beach and were rewarded with an imposing dune directly next to the creek. I was frustrated to see that a family had allowed their young child (9-ish?) to climb up the dune – which is protected – and hack away at it. Not only is it incredibly not cool to contribute to the untimely demise of a surely rapidly shrinking natural monument, but also: sand avalanche?? Duh and/or hola! (That’s for you, fellow Archer fans.)
All right folks; if you’re still with me, that’s enough for today. Tomorrow I’ll share our crazy, why-do-we-do-this-to-ourselves trip to the Porcupine Mountains. Thanks for hiking vicariously with us!