Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail

Lora and I decided to schedule my brother and his wife's vacation this year.  We picked out the Picture Rocks 42 mile Lake Shore Trail as the destination and told my brother to plan it out.  This is also part of the North Country Trail.  Oh yea, we gave them the dates.

We headed up from Murfreesboro on Saturday to their house in Michigan.  We arrived in time for a good dinner and started the packing for the trip.  The laughs started when Kathy pulled out an eye dropper sized bottle for our alcohol for the trip.  Sunday the adventure began as we headed to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.

We crossed the Mackinaw Bridge in cold rainy weather and had lunch of white fish chowder and artichoke Parmesan spread on chips.  We continued our trip up to Munising.  We had rooms at the Terrace Motel.  After we checked in we went waterfall exploring.  We went to Wagner Falls, Alger Falls, Tannery Falls, and MNA Memorial Falls.  After which we had a great dinner at Sydney's Dinner.  Wonderful food and lots of it!

Back to the Motel for the night.  The next morning we had breakfast at Sydney's which was wonderful.  They had the best Rye toast ever.  We had picked up the permit the night before so we met our shuttle person Thomas, owner of Pictured Rocks Shuttle Service, at the Munising Falls parking lot.  Not only did Thomas pick us up on time, he also gave us four hours of information over the one hour drive to Grand Marais.  He even pointed out the porcupine crossing the road.  This was Lora's first porcupine as there is none down South.

We got on the trail and visited the Sable Falls first.  From there we hiked to the Visitor Center and started our day.  Thomas was supposed to give us a detailed map, but everyone was out of them.  We hiked pasted the Grand Sable Dunes, Log Slide, and camped at the Au Sable East campground.  At the Log Slide we met two other guys that were hiking the full trail.  They were staying one campsite beyond ours except for the last night which they were staying at the same site.  We saw them on and off all during the hike.  At the campsite we found that there are many many chipmunks and they are all people friendly.  You could not chase them out of camp.  There are also a LOT of red squirrels too.

After we set up camp, we decided to hike the half mile down to the Au Sable Lighthouse.  There a a few building on the site and we got to visit with the host that was moving in for a month there.  We found our first snake on the trail there too.  We headed back to the campsite and had a peaceful night. We had put in 9.1 miles.

Day two on the trail:

We headed out and past the lighthouse.  We chose to hike the shipwreck beach instead of the trail so we got pictures of the shipwrecks.  After we got back on the trail, Lora found us some red raspberries and further on some huckleberries.  Then we started our hike on twelve mile beach.  We did a little of it barefoot and this is where we saw our first eagle.  Steve had spotted one on the way to the trailhead, but we all got to see this one.  It was very warm out and we played in the water a few times.  Lake Superior was very calm the entire time we were out.  We passed one barefoot hiker who we scared to death as he was working on a project sitting on the beach.  He had not seen us coming up.  Finally we made it to Pine Bluff Campsite at 11.8 miles for the day.  It is quite a climb up to camp on the dune.  Steve and Kathy did it twice as they went for water as well.

Day Three on the trail:

We finished the twenty mile beach today.  While crossing the Beaver Creek bridge we met our barefoot hiker again, but this time he was in a canoe.  He had stories to tell and told us he was working on a turtle shell rattle when we walked up on him the day before.  Beaver Creek had a great log jam at the end of it which he said was left over from the logging days.  We got up on the bluff walls of lake Superior today where you could really see how clear it was looking down at it.  You could see the bottom way on out.

We got to see Spray Falls which dumped into to the lake and a couple of mile high beaches.  It was different walking out on a sandy beach 200 feet above the lake.  On one of our overlooks I met a man that looked really familiar and Lora started talking to the woman with him.  We met our Tennessee Trail Hiker friends Suva and Bob.  Now that was a surprise to see someone you know many states away on the trail.

We stopped to enjoy the water and wash our hair on Chapel Beach.  We saw Chapel Rock and Grand Portal.  Kathy and Lora saw another snake on the way down to the beach.  When we got to Mosquito campsite we had gotten in 11.5 miles.  The Mosquitoes and Black flies were out today to keep us moving.  More chipmunks!  When we opened the food storage box we found a note which read "Do not use!  There is a mouse nest in here.  The Bastards get in through the handle.  Use the poles. Sincerely the couple who found out the hard way."

Day four on the trail:

We crossed Mosquito Creek and headed to Miners Beach where we enjoyed the lake again.  We passed a truck in the parking area that had a cooler in the back of it.  Obviously, by all the trash around it, the raccoons had made quick work on the cooler.  They would not be happy when they returned.  We saw kayakers and an Amish family out in a canoe.  We also saw a Zach Brown look a like walking the beach with his girlfriend.

We went across Miner's Creek and up to Miners Castle where we saw another Eagle.  We had lunch at the picnic tables here.  This was also the day that Kathy figured out her blisters were from having the wrong pair of hiking boots.  She had grabbed a old pair by accident.  At the end of the hike we went to Munising Falls.  We got in 12 miles today.

A celebration dinner was had back at Sydney's.  We spent the night back at the Motel.

The next morning we headed South to Fayette Historic Townsite.  Named after Fayette Brown, the Jackson Iron Company agent who chose the site.  Fayette was once one of the Upper Peninsula's most productive iron-smelting operations.  Located on the Garden Peninsula at Snail Shell Harbor, Fayette grew up around two furnaces, a large dock and several charcoal kilns after the Civil War.  Nearly five hundred residents lived in and near the town that existed to make pig iron.  They also have great ice cream!

From there we went and set up camp at Indian Lake State Park.  After we got all set up we took a trip to see Kitch-iti-kipi Spring.  It was amazing to see such clear deep water and the largest trout ever! We had dinner across the road at Big Spring Inn.  We headed back to camp for the night.  We enjoyed a campfire and a show put on by a Loon.

The next morning we headed to  Seul Choix Point Lighthouse for a tour. After crossing the bridge we stopped in Mackinaw and toured the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum.  It is still the largest Icebreaker America has ever had.

From Mackinaw we headed back to Grand Rapids and had dinner with Kathy's mom, Betty. As always, we have a great time with her and got to check out her new place.  From here it was the drive back to reality after a great week.



  1. Hey Craig, it's 12-mile Beach, not 20-mile. Great report--we sure had a good time.