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Grand Portal Point

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, located along the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is known for its dramatic Pictured Rocks cliffs.

Named for the 15 miles of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising, Pictured Rocks extends for 42 miles along the shores of Lake Superior. Reaching up to 200 feet above the lake, the cliffs have been sculpted into arches, caves, and formations. The preserve also features numerous unique sand dunes and picturesque waterfalls.

The unique colors that bathe the sandstone in hues of red, yellow, brown, and green come from groundwater leaching out of the rock and evaporating, leaving behind streaks of copper, iron, limonite, manganese, and other minerals.

Much like the artists who embodied the Romantic Hudson River School art movement in the 19th century, a series of American writers described their experiences upon reaching Pictured Rocks. Geologist Henry Schoolcraft remarked upon “some of the most sublime and commanding views in nature,” while fur trader Pierre Espirit Radisson noted that “nature has made it pleasant to the eye, the spirit, and the belly.”

Developers had planned a tourist resort adjacent to Pictured Rocks near Munising as early as 1850, but after the lumber boom ended in the early 1900s, much of the land ended up reverting to the state over unpaid property taxes. Through state and federal cooperation, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, America’s first National Lakeshore, was established in 1966.

  • Chapel Falls is a 60-foot high cascade along Section Creek.
  • Often overlooked is the wide 10-foot-high Chapel Beach Falls at the temrinus of Section Creek at Lake Superior.
  • Miners Falls is a 40-foot-high cascade along Miners River.
  • Mosquito Falls is a wide 10-foot-high waterfall along Mosquito Creek.
  • Munising Falls is a 50-foot-high sheer drop along Munising Creek in the city of Munising.
  • Sable Falls is a 75-foot-high cascade along Sable Creek.

Pictured Rocks offers nearly 100 miles of easy to strenuous trails through miles of pristine beaches, alongside soaring cliffs, and through dense woodlands.

  • The Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach Trails provide a 6.2-mile loop that passes by the 60-foot high Chapel Falls, Chapel Rock, and Chapel Beach.
  • The Grand Sable Dunes Trail is a .6-miles loop trail that passes by an old apple orchard before winding through a jack pine forest before coming into the Grand Sable Dunes.
  • The Miners Castle Overlook Trail is a short 400-foot or ½-mile in-and-out path to three different viewing platforms of Miners Castle. The upper two platforms are wheelchair-accessible.
  • The 1.2-mile in-and-out Miners Falls Trail accesses the 50-foot-high Miners Falls along the Miners River.
  • Accessing Munising Falls is easy via a paved .2-mile paved wheelchair-accessible trail through a shaded sandstone canyon along Munising Creek to a viewing platform. Two sets of stairs lead to other viewing points.
  • The Sable Falls Trail is a ½-mile in-and-out trail from a parking area to the base of Sable Falls via 168 steps. The trail continues north to a rocky beach along Lake Superior.
  • The Sand Point Marsh Trail, an easy ½-mile atop a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk, encircles one of the park’s most beautiful wetlands, winding through a cattail marsh, a white cedar and black spruce swamp, and through some small ponds.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is generally located along MI Route 28 between Munising and Grand Marais.


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