Miners Castle is looking less like a castle these days. Natural erosions and harsh storms off the lake have shaved off a portion of the outcropping, with a significant "collapse" of a portion of the "structure" just last year.
Lake Superior fogs can be as thick at San Francisco Bay fogs. Ten minutes after I took the second photo, the entire rock outcropping had disappeared behind a wall of mist.
Hike 1.4 miles (one way) to 60 foot tall Chapel Falls. Then continue another 1.8 miles to Chapel Rock and beach. The trailhead is located about 15 miles east of Munising off Alger County Road H-58, then about 5 miles north to the end of Chapel Road.
This picturesque old lighthouse, once guided ships into Munising Harbor. It is on private property and inaccessible by land, however it is easily viewed from the tour boats to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Completed in 1870, the unusual wooden structure was originally painted white. It is now in a poor state of repair, however efforts are being made to prevent the lighthouse from totally succumbing to the elements.
Grand Island is a National Recreation area on an island that is part of the Hiawatha National Forest. MoBOCo, Inc. operates the passenger ferry to and from Grand Island. The boats will leave from the Grand Island Landing dock west of Munising and arrive at Williams Landing on Grand Island. Here you will find camping, hiking, and the possibility of spotting black bears in the wild.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, www.nps.gov/piro begins 5 miles N.E. of Munising and runs 40 miles along Lake Superior from Munising to Grand Marais. This lakeshore was memorialized in Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha". Here you will see flat-faced cliffs that raise 200 feet above the lake. Pictured Rocks are notable for their rich color and interesting formations. You will view some arches and grottos that have been carved out of colorful soft sandstone by the actions of wind, waves, and ice. The colors, stripes of reds, oranges, blues, greens, white, and black can be vibrant, and even shiny in places where water may be running down the sheer cliffs. Be aware that the mid-day sun tends to wash the colors out, so to get the most beautiful view visit this area late afternoon. (I have also heard that early morning is a good time, although I have not visited them myself at this time of the day.) Except for Miners Castle, the cliffs and formations are only accessible by boat or on foot. Of these two you will see more of the lakeshore and experience your best views by boat. We use our dinghy to take a slow late afternoon trip along the base of the cliffs. If you own a touring kayak this is another popular way to explore the lakeshore. The Grand Sable Dunes are also part of this National Lakeshore. If you do not have your own boat, Pictured Rocks Cruises, has a 2 1/2 to 3 hour boat tour that follows the National Lakeshore for thirty-seven miles. These boat tours leave the Municipal Pier in Munising from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day weekend, with a few additional tours through October 10, weather permitting. Just follow signs on M28 along Lake Superior shoreline to the City Pier in Munising.
For more photos of Picture Rocks see my travelogue, Visiting Pictured Rocks by dinghy. (For a hikers view of Picture Rocks visit "Kaloz" Munising pages.)
It wasn't easy to find, despite the traditional "Episcopal Church Welcomes You" directional signs, but eventually my father and I stumbled into St. John's Church for the 10:00 service. There were only a handful of people in the church, but what a lovely spirit in the place! I could see immediately why the death of Bishop Jim Kelsey was such a particular disaster -- he had worked hard to build ecumenical bridges in the U.P., which has many small congregations in all denominations. There was an excellent sermon by a lay woman; it was a bit surprising to hear the organ keep playing all by itself when the organist joined the rest of us for the Eucharist. But so be it! When you're in the area, drop by and make yourself at home.
I have not done this yet, but I intend to next time I am in the area. Shipwreck Tours take passengers on a 60’ glass-bottom boat tour of three of the shipwrecks in the area. These two-hour tours are fully narrated and run from June through Oct. 8th. While anchored in the protection of Grand Island this tour boat came into our anchorage and spent quite a period of time over a marked, nearby wreck explaining what one was able to still see of the remaining ship as well as the known history of the wreck. From watching this activity I would expect this to be an interesting tour. Note that if you are into snorkeling or skin diving, there are a number of shipwrecks in the area that divers enjoy exploring.
This was a nice side-trip. The falls are located in a residential area off highway 2 heading towards downtown Munising. Upon pulling up to what appears to be a log cabin/gift shop, it costs approximately $5 per person to walk through the back area of the shop where you will see a brook with a water wheel, a pond with rainbow trout and ducks (food is available in a dispenser for a quarter), and the falls; along with a wishing well, totem pole, sundial and giant trees. Just another small enjoyable thing to see while touring the upper peninsula of Michigan.
The best way to view the Pictured Rocks is to take a boat tour. Unfortunately we didn't do this, but were able to hike through the forest and get a few good photos from the shore. For a boat tour, go to Munising, MI home page, or do a yahoo search of Pictured Rocks to find several different boat tours. They will usually range in the $30 price area.
We first hiked to the Miners Falls, which was a little over a mile. After that, we continued on to Miners Castle, where we got the best views of the rocks along the lakeshore.
From spring till fall, you can take a tour boat out past Lake Superior's Grand Island and view 3 sunken ships from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. At $25 a person, you get a 2 hour narrated tour on a glass bottomed boat. Ticket office and gift shop is conveniently located right on the water in downtown Munising.
The way to see and appreciate the Pictured Rocks is by water. So take your yacht up through the Soo Locks and navigate your way to the laekshore between Grand Marais and Munising for an unforgettable cruise.
What? You don't have a yacht?
Oh, then bring your kayak to Munising. Drive out to the Chapel Falls beach, carry your kayak down to the water, and start exploring!
Don't tell me you don't kayak!
Well, if you don't have a boat of your own, and you don't kayak, you can still see the grandeur of Pictured Rocks by taking one of the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises that leaves from Munising Harbor. The trips cost around $27 a person, but I thought that they were well worth the money. The boats take you up the shoreline for almost 20 miles; the entire trip lasts nearly three hours. The boat captain provides interesting commentary which is only occasionally irritating. During the peak summer months, there are departures every hour.
Check out my Pictured Rocks travelogue for more photos.
When I took this photo in the early 1990s, the National Park Service still allowed visitors to Munising Falls to walk on the rock ledge _behind_ the falls. Erosion issues and liability issues have since caused the Park Service to close off this path.
Munising is a very popular falls, although the amount of water flowing over it is not the greatest. The falls are in a very pretty setting, plunging 50 ft. at the end of a narrow canyon. The short, 800 ft. trail to the falls is wheelchair accessible.
This formation of two towering rock spires is a favorite of visitors to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There are hiking trails and a beautiful picnic area near the rock where we enjoyed a great lunch. A steep hike down from the picnic area leads to a popular beach at the base of the rock.
The best views of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are from the water, so boat tours are very popular in the warmer months. We booked passage on such a boat and were more about half way through the tour when we encountered a thick fog bank formed by the cool waters of Lake Superior clashing with the warmer air along the coast. This was on a beautiful sunny afternoon in August, and the fog was still so thick that the tour was cancelled in mid-course. Our Captain turned the boat back and offered all the passengers on board a full refund of our $25 ticket price. We got about almost three quarters of a tour for free. Nice people!