“A loop trail with amazing vistas along the cliff edges of Pictured Rocks.
— Jeff Menaker
Lake · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
This loop covers mixed terrain from wooded river edges, waterfalls, sandy beaches, and highlights picturesque views of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hikers will be have access to views of cliffs, coves, arches, and rockfalls from atop the sandstone bluffs these features are made of. Look for the multicolored faces of the cliffs resulting from streaking mineral deposits in the sandstone.
Need to Know
No water is available at the parking area. Plan for biting flies and mosquitoes, particularly at the two beach areas. Expect high winds and blowing sand at the overlooks.
For winter hikers, the road to the trailhead is not plowed for 3.5 miles from the trailhead. Snowshoes or cross-country skis will be required. Expect to hike it or inquire about a snowmobile shuttle in Munising. The eastern side of the loop is well traveled in the winter due to a popular ice climbing spot located about a mile from the Chapel Camp site. Beyond that, the trail may be under significant snow drift in the winter.
This route beings by crossing the wooded Mosquito River basin on the way to Mosquito Beach. Visitors should keep an eye out for the Mosquito Falls Trail
, which will lead past a scenic waterfall and eventually deposit hikers at Mosquito Beach.
From Mosquito Beach to Chapel Beach, the majority of the route follows the North Country Trail along the cliff edges of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore overlooking Lake Superior. These sandstone cliffs are streaked with colors from mineral deposits. With the right lighting and moisture, the cliff edges show the vivid colors responsible for the name "Pictured Rocks." Numerous vistas can be found along the cliff edge overlooking the cliffs, the arches, and the rockfalls. From Chapel Beach, cross the creek to head up to Chapel Rock
before following the creek back towards Chapel Falls and Chapel Lake (or continue along the lakeshore to Spray Falls about 1.6 mile farther (each way).
Once you're ready to head back to the trailhead, keep an eye out for the Chapel Rock Trail
, which will lead back to the start of the loop.
Flora & Fauna
One bear was encountered during our outing, along with many small mammals and birds
History & Background
Pictured Rocks is the first National Lakeshore established. The rocks show many colors as the minerals streak across the face. The rocks are great from below too, book a kayak trip with a local outfitter for an up close view of the formations.