Pictured Rocks Hiking: Chapel Falls and Beach
Welcome to the Pictured Rocks National Seashore. A scenic playground for your next Northern Michigan day or weekend trip. Positioned in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks is one of the most gorgeous landscapes you can visit in the United States at any time of the year. Pictured Rocks has a plethora of hiking routes but for this piece we will focus on Pictured Rocks hiking trail to Chapel Falls and Beach.
Where is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore?
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One of the major cities near Pictured Rocks is Munising. Munising is one of the most interesting cities in the UP with activities galore and a great city to base yourself for any adventure.
Getting to Chapel Falls… from Munising
Coming from Munising to Chapel Falls is very straightforward and easy. The drive takes roughly 25 minutes and winds through some gorgeous country roads. As you get deeper into the heavily densed back roads, you will have to venture onto a dirt road for about 4 miles. The road is very doable in a non 4×4 but with bad conditions be weary.
Pictured Rocks Hiking Arrival & Amenities
The parking here is limited but not terribly small. There’s about 30 spots so just keep that in mind on busier weekends. There is also a bathroom here and postage about the trail at the trail head.
One of the most frustrating aspects of hiking can be finding the trail head. Who wants to be out in the middle of nowhere and know if they are on the right trail? Luckily, the trail head is very well marked and causes no confusion. If you are doing the mosquito loop, go left. If you are only doing Chapel, go right.
Pictured Rocks Hiking
The beginning of the 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 making your way to Chapel Falls you’ll hit a sign for Chapel Lake overlook and chapel falls. We didn’t go to the lake but it’s only .6 miles from the trail.
Welcome to Chapel Falls. This first lookout isn’t all that special but it’s a nice spot to stop for a picture and sip of water. Making your way here isn’t challenging but you may be out of breathe from all the photo opportunities that surround you!
Bridge Crossing to Chapel Falls Lookout
The bridge crossing is shortly after the first lookout point. This bridge links you to the next part of the trail and to the better and way more memorable view of Chapel Falls. At this point you will come to the fork in the road. Either way will get you too Chapel Beach but we took the route to the right.
Fork to Chapel Beach Lookout
The trail from here to the lookout over Chapel Beach is once again, 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.
Lookout to Beach
The glorious lookout that everyone made this hike for! Take your picture, revel in the beauty and get on to the beach. Although short, about 5 minutes, this was one of my favorite parts of the hike. You get the scenery of the roots of the tree, gorgeous ridge walk, cross over a river, and eventually arrive to pristine shores of Lake Superior
This beach is gorgeous. I could spend a day here or at least an afternoon soaking in the scenery and relaxing. To your right you get your views of a rushing river into the lake and to your left a pristine view of Pictured Rocks Seashore. The beach is loaded with rocks, so if you’re looking for a keeper take a peek below.
Departing the Beach
For those who aren’t doing the full loop (Chapel Falls and Mosquito) take the same route back as you did in OR take another path behind the beach that will eventually lead you too the Chapel Falls overlook. From there take it back to the parking lot
Pictured Rocks Hiking Round Up
- Length: 7 Miles RT
- 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
- Coffee Stops – Falling Rock Cafe
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 hikes in the UP? Take a peek at some of these below:
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 the UP?
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