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Click to see a map of the Pictured Rocks River Trail.
Miles of colorful sandstone cliffs from 50-200 feet high rise from Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline and long stretches of white sand beach invite kayakers to explore the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, put-in points for kayaks are at Sand Point, Miners Beach, Twelve mile Beach and Hurricane River. Additional put-in points in the Munising area include Grand Island Landing, Munising City Marina, Munising/Brown’s Addition boat ramp, and the Anna River. In Grand Marais, you may launch at the Grand Marais harbor beach and marina.
Lake Superior is unpredictable! Kayakers must be prepared for cold temperatures, high winds, fog and rough seas that may occur at any time. You should constantly be alert to changing conditions and should consult the current marine forecast before starting any trip (NOAA 1-906-475-5212 or Marine Band Radio Channel 16).
Hypothermia occurs when your body’s core temperature is reduced below normal levels. Cold water conducts heat away from your body 25 times faster than cold air. Uncontrollable shaking, slurred speech, or difficulty moving are all warning signs — you must be warmed immediately. If submerged in Lake Superior, it is important to conserve body heat to increase your chances for survival. Wear your flotation device, huddle with others or pull legs together and up to your chest to help conserve heat. Do not attempt to swim long distances
Sea kayaks ride low in the water and are difficult for other boaters to see. It is best to paddle brightly colored kayaks in red, orange, or yellow.
The Pictured Rocks cliffs extend for 15 miles and include sheer walls all the way to the water line. These exposed cliffs offer no way off the water if wind and waves increase.
Be aware of boat tours that leave Munising on a regular basis during the summer months; they run fairly close to the shoreline with a turnaround point at Chapel Beach.
Most storm systems come from the northwest — you are fully exposed to the winds when paddling on Lake Superior. There are no protected anchorages at any back country or front country campgrounds.
The National Park Service recommends that kayakers use wet or dry suits due to Lake Superior’s cold water. U.S. Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) are required for each person.
Be prepared with provisions for at least one extra day. In your gear, include a first aid kit, emergency signal device, self-contained stove, an extra paddle, compass, maps, insect repellant, tow line, rain gear, waterproof matches, and dry storage containers.
Click to see a map of the Pictured Rocks Land Trail.
30 miles with 13 loops ranging in size from .25 miles to 5.4 miles.
Easy to Moderate
At the Pictured Rocks-Hiawatha National Forest Visitor Information Center in Munising you can get information, backcountry permits, maps, and publications. Rangers can help you. The center is open daily, except January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25. It is closed on Sundays in winter.
The Munising Falls Interpretive Center on Sand Point Road has brochures and exhibits. This self-serve facility is open seasonally and has exhibits on iron making, logging, wildlife, and how the cliffs were formed.
The Grand Sable Visitor Center, east of Grand Sable Lake near Grand Marais, has information, backcountry permits, exhibits, and publications. It is open summers and periodically during the rest of the year. The maritime Museum and Ranger Station in Grand Marais has information, permits, exhibits, and publications. It is open intermittently, as staffing permits. Check with a ranger or call to ensure it is open before you go.
Hiking and Walking
Here at Pictured Rocks, you will find some of the best hiking around. You can choose short trails or long, easy or vigorous. The Lakeshore Trail, a part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, and other trails provide spectacular vistas of the lake, cliffs, dunes, and waterfalls. Old logging roads take you deep into the forest. Always plan your hiking trip beforehand. Let someone know your destination, carry water and food, and be prepared for rain and sudden weather changes. Wear layered clothing and sturdy footgear. Trail maps are available at visitor centers.
Three campgrounds – Little Beaver Lake, Twelvemile Beach, and Hurricane River – may be reached by car. All have water, tables, grills, and toilets. There are NO showers. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis; there is a fee. You must register upon arrival at the campground, and stays are limited. Outside the park, camping is available in state forests and parks, private campgrounds, and in the Hiawatha National Forest.
There are 13 hike-in campgrounds and 7 group sites spaced every 2 to 5 miles along the Lakeshore Trail. Only 2 sites, Mosquito River and Chapel Beach, have toilets. Fires are prohibited at Chapel Beach and Mosquito River campgrounds – use stoves. At other sites, fires are allowed only in metal fire rings. Ground fires are prohibited. There is no potable water. Permits are required. Camping is allowed in designated sites only.
Favorite catches include smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, brook and lake trout, whitefish, steelhead, and coho salmon. Ice fishing is popular on Munising Bay and most inland lakes. A Michigan fishing license is required.
Hunting is a time-honored tradition in the park. The habitat supports many game animals, such as bear, whitetail deer, snowshoe hare, grouse, ducks, and geese. Firearms in vehicles must be unloaded and cased or in the trunk. Trapping and target practice are prohibited. Some areas of the park are closed to hunting for safety reasons. A Michigan hunting license is required; state and federal regulations apply.
Boating, Canoeing, and Sea Kayaking
Beaver Lake, Little Beaver Lake, and Grand Sable Lake are favorites for small boats and canoes. Most rivers are too shallow for canoeing. Lake Superior can be rough and small craft are easily swamped. Munising and Grand Marais have launch ramps for motor boats. Backcountry permits are required for overnight sea kayakers and boaters. Boat motors on the Beaver lakes are limited to a maximum of 10 hp.
Many private tour cruises are available. Private boats leave Munising Bay every day from June to mid-October. Air tours are available and guides can lead you on a variety of recreational opportunities. Obtain information at the Chamber of Commerce.
You can cross country ski on the many miles of groomed trails; or, if your fancy is snowmobiling, try one of the park roads that are left unplowed. Also popular are ice fishing on inland lakes and Munising Bay, snowshoeing, and winter camping. Ask a ranger for trail routes.
Weather and bugs – you can’t ignore either. Your visit will be more enjoyable if you prepare for extremes. The proximity of Lake Superior helps moderate the park’s climate; but sudden storms can develop year-round, and hypothermia is always a threat. Bring rain gear and layers of warm clothing. Black flies and mosquitoes can be aggravating from mid-May to mid-July. Stable flies are common during warm, humid weather. Wear light-colored, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Bring insect repellent.
For a Safe Visit
Don’t let your guard down when it comes to safety. Please be alert and observe these regulations.
In an emergency, call 911.
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