A Guide to Exploring Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
I'll never forget how I felt standing in front of Lake Superior. The cold, refreshing air hitting my face, and listening to the waves crash into the sandstone rocks made me feel completely at peace.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is truly a place where you can disconnect and be surrounded by nature. It's located on Michigan's Upper Peninsula where you'll find towering colorful cliffs, waterfalls, forests, sand dunes, and inland lakes.
There's plenty of outdoor activities all year-long such as hiking, kayaking, camping, and sightseeing. My husband and I went in early May and discovered this is the perfect time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. We were pretty much the only ones there!
I started with this waterfall because it's so close to the town, and such an easy hike to get to. The short trail is paved and look us about 5 minutes to walk to it from the parking lot. The waterfall is 50ft tall and there are also two viewing platforms one at the bottom and another with steps more towards the side of it.
This large waterfall is a short 0.6-mile hike on a gravel trail. The end does have quite a few steps (pictured above). When you reach the overlook you can feel the mist coming off of it- so refreshing! The trees, rocks, and beautiful streams are also a sight to take in.
I LOVED this little waterfall. It's to the east side of Miners Beach, and it's so pretty cascading down the layered rocks right into Lake Superior. For a short hike from the parking lot. Turn right onto Miners Beach road and park in the parking lot.
This is such a cute little waterfall that you can walk behind! It's right next to the road and an easy short walk to get to.
Au Train Falls
In dryer months, this waterfall can dry out to just a trickle. We went in the spring when it rains more, and absolutely loved this waterfall. The water was shallow enough to easily walk across to the middle. It's an easy hike from the parking lot as well.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
If you have the time, Tahquamemon upper falls are such a sight to see. It's about a 1.5 hr drive from Munising. The falls drop 50ft and are over 200ft long!
Miners Castle Overlook
This is the most popular spot and overlook in Pictured Rocks. It's also the only cliff area accessible by vehicle. The short trail to get there is paved. When you step onto the overlook and see the turquoise, clear water, it takes your breath away! There's also a trail to a lower overlook that we almost missed- keep following the sidewalk to the wooded area and you'll see steps leading down!
Log Slide Overlook
This overlook is 175ft on top of the Grad Sable Sand Dunes. It's easily one of my favorite overlooks we went to. The view is amazing, and the water is So beautiful and blue. You can go down the sand dunes to the beach, but remember, the only way back up is climbing the steep slope back up. There are warning signs that post a fee if you need to get rescued! You can also spot the Au Sable Lighthouse from here by zooming in on your camera!
Sandpoint Marsh Trail
This is such a unique short 1.2-mile loop trail through a wetland marsh. I loved walking through a forest of overgrown cattails, and over the small ponds with plenty of wildlife to spot. It was definitely one of my favorite trails we did!
Hurricane River Beach
It's not every day you get to see a river flowing into Lake Superior! I loved this unique beach full of beautiful colorful rocks and the roaring sound of the River. There's a campground and picnic area nearby as well!
Lake Superior Overlook
This is such a beautiful and peaceful beach. I loved all the little rocks along the shoreline. Find a piece of driftwood to sit on and relax for a while!
This beach will make you feel like you're at the ocean! It's a mile-long stretch of sand and crystal clear water. Many people go swimming here in the hotter months. It's also a popular place to launch your kayak and paddle out to the Pictured Rocks cliffs.
Where to Eat
The one thing you must try when visiting the Upper Peninsula is Pasties. This food item is probably not what you're thinking! The correct way to say it is: pass-tees. This is the ultimate comfort food with rich Michigan history. It's similar to a pot-pie but without a pot, and has way more filling! The pasty was invented by Miners living in the UP. It's easy to eat without silverware, can stay hot for up to hours, and it also kept them feeling full. We chose the veggie option and dipped them in ranch sauce! So good!
Where to Stay
The Holiday inn Express Munising
We stayed at The Holiday Inn Express the first night there and loved it! It sits right on Lake Munising with stunning views and even has rooms with balconies!
Click here to view the rooms and book!
The next two nights we stayed in a secluded, cozy Airbnb cabin right on a lake. It didn't have cellphone service or internet access, but we didn't mind!
A lot of the roads turn into gravel and dirt when getting to the points of interest. Some roads were also rough and bumpy. If taking or renting a car, I recommend an SUV since it sits up higher off the ground!
The best way to see Pictured Rocks is by boat! The boat and kayak tours run from mid May- mid October.
Phone service is very spotty throughout the whole area! Make sure to download a map or bring one before visiting!
Have you been to Pictured Rocks? Let me know what your favorite part was in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and happy travels!