Pictured Rocks Hiking: Chapel and Mosquito Loop Guide
Welcome to the Pictured Rocks National Seashore. A scenic playground for your next Northern Michigan vacation or Upper Peninsula road trip. Positioned in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks is one of the BEST places to visit in Michigan. This national Lakeshore has a plethora of hiking routes but now will be focused on the Pictured Rocks hiking guide to Chapel Basin Loop
Chapel Basin Loop Hike: Video Experience
For those who are more akin to visual displays of somewhere, enjoy this video I made of hiking the Chapel Basin Loop at Pictured Rocks. This was from a hot summer day where weather was gorgeous and the true beauty of this hike was on full display
Directions from Munising to Chapel Loop
The driving time from Munising to Chapel Falls is about 35 minutes. Follow Alger County H58 for about 15 miles down two lane backroads. As you get deeper into the heavily dense back roads, you will have to venture onto a dirt road for about 4 miles.
A non 4×4 car will be completely fine unless there has been a heavy rain which will make the drive in very tough with muddy conditions and giant puddles.
Chapel Loop Parking and Trailhead
The Chapel Loop parking lot is limited but not terribly small. It’s all dependent on when you decide to visit. On popular weekends and summer months, expect it to be full with overflow parking trickling up the road coming in. Get here early if you don’t want to add extra steps to your hike.
The Chapel Loop and Mosquito Loop trail head are marked very well. If you are doing the mosquito loop, go left. If you are only doing Chapel, go right. For the weary, there is a map and tips for the hike right at the trailhead!
Starting the Chapel Loop Hike
The beginning of the Chapel Loop trail is absolutely gorgeous. You meander through a flat section of trail where you are engulfed by gorgeous trees and varieties of different fauna. For a great stretch of the trail is an abundance of fern and fungi. Lots of fungi.
Before arriving to Chapel Falls, you have the option to hike .6 miles to the Chapel Lake overlook. I haven’t made my way there but it’s probably worth it. If not, the rest of the trail is stunning so don’t feel bad if you skip this minor detour. For those only hiking to Chapel Falls, the total hiking distance is 3 miles roundtrip!
Chapel Falls Viewing Platforms
Chapel Falls is a lovely waterfall that hopefully will be flowing when you decide to visit Pictured Rocks. Don’t use up all of your camera’s memory card at the first viewing platform, as there is another viewing platform about 5 minutes further down the trail.
The first lookout gives you a much closer and memorable view as the second one is a bit distanced and engulfed by trees. For the telescope photography nerds, this is the time to put that longer lens to use!
Chapel Falls to Chapel Beach Segment
After the first lookout point at Chapel Falls you will cross a bridge that leads to the second viewing platform. At this platform stay to the right for the route to the Chapel Beach overlook or continue straight directly to Chapel Beach. (I recommend taking the route to the right!)
Arriving at Chapel Beach Lookout
The trail from the fork to the Chapel Beach Lookout is very easy. The scenery is beautiful and hopefully when you visit, dry. Our hike was VERY wet in this section but doable. I could see this being even more agitating if it had just rained or was raining.
When you get closer to the lookout, the trail casually slopes down but nothing overwhelmingly steep or challenging. You have arrived to one of the best parts of the hike. Soak in the sights and snap some scenic photos!
Chapel Rock to Chapel Beach
Follow the path you came in on and make a right down the flight of stairs. This section of the hike will take you past the unforgettable Chapel Rock, as well as crossing over the Chapel Beach waterfall before arriving to Chapel Beach!
This small stretch of the trail will energize your soul as you’ll understand why everyone makes their way to this pristine beach.
Arriving at one of the Best Beaches in Michigan - Chapel Beach
Chapel Beach is stunning and hopefully the day you are here is sunny. I could spend a day here or at least an afternoon soaking in the scenery and relaxing.
Soak in the scenery of Chapel Rock and seemingly endless horizon of Lake Superior. This beach is loaded with rocks, so if you’re looking for a keeper take a peek below.
You will also realize that this is a VERY popular spot to dock up a boat during the warmer months as the beach is a perfect hangout spot.
Chapel Beach to Mosquito Beach
I HIGHLY encourage everyone to do the full Chapel to Mosquito Beach loop. The hike is about 10.2 miles in total but the scenery going to Mosquito Beach is unforgettable. An endless amount of Lake Superior Shoreline vistas and and shaded hiking, make this second section AMAZING!
Chapel Beach to Grand Portal Point is 1.5 miles and the stretch from Grand Portal Point to Mosquito Beach is 2.9 miles.
Grand Portal Point is more than worth the effort while Indian Head is another unforgettable part of this stretch of trail.
For those doing Chapel Loop Only
Follow the trail you came in on back to the parking lot or take the trail that cuts through to Chapel Falls and follow that back to the trailhead.
Pictured Rocks Hiking Round UP
Chapel Beach Only
- Length: 6.3 Miles RT
- Time: 3 Hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Crowds: Busy
- Weather: Depending on season, bring good shoes as trail gets wet
- Gear: Solid shoes, if you don’t mind wet socks/shoes. Water. Snacks
Chapel to Mosquito Loop
- Length: 10.2 Miles RT
- Time: Expect the Chapel to Mosquito Loop to take about 4- 5 hours
- Difficulty: Hard (length, Not much elevation change)
- Crowds: Busy during peak times
- Weather: Bring good shoes as trail can stay wet especailly after rains
- Gear: Solid Shoes, Nikon Camera, Water, Trail Snacks
Chapel Basin Loop FAQ - In case you missed anything above
Grand Portal Point is one of the highlights of this hike! After passing Chapel Beach, continue hiking for about 1.5 miles before arriving to Grand Portal Point!
The hike to Chapel Beach/Rock is 6.3 Miles roundtrip!
The Chapel Beach hike is open year round. Although it will be much more difficult in winter, it's arguably even more beautiful.
Best Things to do after any Pictured Rocks Hike
Have you done this hike? I would regard this as one of my favorites in the region and highly highly recommend you do it. I haven’t met or done it during the winter but i’m sure snowshoeing it would be a blast.
Are you looking for any other hiking trails near Munising ? Here are some Upper Peninsula attractions to consider:
The Upper Peninsula has provided me with so many wonderful memories. Have you done any Pictured Rocks hiking yet? If you could, where would you go on your next Pictured Rocks hiking trip? Wheres your favorite place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?
Pictured Rocks Hiking Gear to Bring
Hiking in Michigan is a lot more fun when you have the right equipment at the right time. It’s very easy to be nonchalant about a hike until half way in you realize that you are not prepared at all. Here are some things that you should always bring when you go hiking in Michigan!
- Water – It gets VERY hot in Michigan and on long hikes you can’t take the trail without water. Hydrate before, during, and after to ensure your body responds accordingly!
- Bug Repellant – Bugs get nasty in Michigan when the warm weather rolls through. Make sure to bring and wear repellant to enjoy the great outdoors the way it’s meant to be.
- Sun Protection – The sun will be beating down on you at some point on a hike. Bring sunscreen and avoid any nasty burns.
Wondering how your hiking boots should fit? Read Here
Follow these Hiking Tips and Hiking Gear Guides if you’re looking for: