Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

A new summer is up on us and the semester just ended a couple of weeks ago. Me and couple of friends decided to take a weekend trip. Pictured Rocks is on the shores of Lake Superior, about 6.5 h North of Ann Arbor. We departed from Ann Arbor on Saturday at 4 AM and our first destination was Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula. The Tahquamenon Falls comprises of two falls the upper and the lower falls. Due to time constraints we decided to visit only the upper falls. The sheer force and enormity of the falls was amazing. Several viewing platforms at short hiking distances provide excellent vantage point to view the falls.

Tahquamenon Falls
After spending an hour near the falls, we drove to Munising, MI and checked into our hotel. With a few hours of day light left, we decided to visit Miners Castle and explore the surrouring area. It is one of the icons of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Short paved trails provide excellent view points of the rock formations and lake Superior.

Miners Castle
A short hike takes you to the Miners beach. A long sandy shore and a serene atmosphere makes this a beach goers delight. We were there right around the sunset time. Unfortunately though, the skies were a bit cloudy. Nevertheless, it created a fantastic ambience and has left an ever lasting impression, making Pictured Rocks a place I must revisit.

Miners Beach
It was starting to get dark. We made a quick stop at the Miners Falls before heading back to our hotel for the night.

Day-2 of our trip started with a quick visit to Wagner Falls. The paved trail starts right by the side of the road. A short hike leads to this beautiful water falls cascading over sandstone terraces.

Wagner Falls
We next headed to explore the Chapel Basin. There are plenty of hiking options here. We picked the 6.2 mile (round-trip) North-East trail to hike to Chapel Beach via Chapel Falls. The weather was slightly cool and perfect for this long hike through the woods. Lots of mushrooms and wildflowers were in bloom this spring, making this a beautiful hike.


Different vantage points provide spectacular views of the 60 ft high Chapel Falls.

Chapel Falls
Hiking 1.8 miles further we went on to see the Chapel Rock formation, another one of icons at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We wanted to spend some time near the Chapel beach. Unfortunately, it started raining right around the time we reached the beach. Due to shortage of time, after the quick downpour subsided, we hiked back to our car and drove towards the Grand Sable dunes.

Chapel Rock
There are two overlook points for the Grand Sable dunes. We went to the Log Slide overlook. It provides a fantastic birds-eye view of the dunes. We also went to the access point a quarter mile east of the log slide overlook to hike the dunes. It was incredibly scary as every step felt like I would tumble down into the looming vast lake superior. The last stretch was too steep and we gave up on reaching the lake superior here. The hike back was a daunting task and we took our time enjoying the panorama. Au Sable light house, visible from the log slide overlook was our next destination.

Grand Sable Dunes from Log Slide Overlook
We drove to the Hurricane river point along H58. Here the Hurricane river empties into the lake superior. A portion of the hike towards the Au Sable Light House is along the Twelve mile beach. The tranquil beach on one side and woods on the other side and the cool spring breeze made this a perfect hike. This place and the hike was my favorite in this entire trip. There is also campground near the parking lot (note to self, must camp here some time!, the ambience is fantastic).

Hike through the woods to Au Sable Light House 
View of the Grand Sable Dunes from Twelve mile Beach
Lake Superior as viewed from Twelve mile beach
Au Sable Light House
Sunset over the Lake Superior at the Hurricane River mouth
After the sunset, we started back to Ann Arbor and reached around 5 AM Monday morning. For a short 2-Day trip we had managed to see a lot. It was a memorable weekend and great start to the summer.

No comments: