We consider ourselves pretty spontaneous, but when we were sitting on the couch this last Fall (2017) having a few craft brews and discussing how much we would love to go see the Peak Fall colors somewhere amazing, little did we know a week later we would be taking a 2000 mile road trip to the U.P of Michigan. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes, forest, and shoreline beckon you to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hiking, camping, sightseeing, and four season outdoor opportunities abound
We quickly went to recreation.gov and got permits to backpack the 42 mile Lakeshore Trail that is also a part of the North Country Trail. You have to reserve and have permits to camp on the Lakeshore Trail.
The Lakeshore Trail is an amazing trail that starts on the high sand dunes in Grand Marais and ends at Munising Falls, (right outside of Munising, MI). On our trek of the 42 miles we went from sand, to thick dense forest, to hiking along the cliffs of the Pictured Rocks. There is never a dull moment.
There are 14 backcountry campsites along the way. Most of the time you will get your water right from the lake. Most of the campsites give you access right to beachfront and some amazing sunsets. Most of the trail is straight with little climbs. There is some gravel road hiking for a mile or two, but those are access points to the bigger campgrounds.
The best time to hike the trail is late summer or at Peak Fall. You get some amazing sunsets, since the trail faces the southwest side of Lake Superior. There are lots of waterfalls in this area to see and explore.
You can pick up a shuttle service that will take you to the Grand Marais Visitors Center where the Lakeshore Trail starts (if your hiking from East to West). The parking lot at Munising Falls is big, and more than safe to leave your car. From leaving the Grand Marais Visitor Center the trail is awesome and pretty easy.
TIP: If you are looking for great place to camp with your camper or RV, you can boondock at Bay Furnace (right on the lake btw) and spend some time in Munising (which we totally recommend) and have a cup of coffee at our favorite place Falling Rock Cafe and Books
After your hike, take the Sunset Tour of the Pictured Rocks and see the cliffs from a different perspective. It really is beautiful.
Munising Michigan and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a ton of unique hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and camping. This is by far one of our favorite places to hang out on a long week trip.