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Munising Michigan – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Suppose you find yourself in the Upper Penninsula, the northern part of Michigan, which is more casually known as “The U.P.”. In that case, you’ll definitely want to head to Munising, Michigan, pronounced MEW-ni-sing, and explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stretches approximately 40 miles along the southeastern shore of Lake Superior, so there are many access points.

However, the quaint charm of Munising, Michigan, as well as the robust and tasteful but not overwhelming tourist infrastructure in the area, makes this one of the best ways to enjoy the lakeshore and more.

During our week-long stay in the area, we enjoyed daily outdoor family adventures.

And…

When we reluctantly had to leave, we still had a laundry list of experiences that we are still very eager to check out the next time we’re in the area.

So…

Whether you have a few days or even a few months, Munising, Michigan, is undoubtedly a place where you’ll be able to have epic outdoor adventures year-round!

If you have any questions about our experience up in this special part of the U.P., feel free to leave us a comment below. And in the meantime, here is what we got into when we were in Munising.

Where To Stay In Munising

There are many places to stay in and around Munising. From value-oriented chain hotels to cute beachside inns to Airbnb‘s and campgrounds, just about any type of accommodation you’d like is available in the area.

Bay Furnace Campground

Given that we live in our RV full-time, we stayed at a campground, and in particular the Bay Furnace Campground.

boys playing on the beach of Lake Superior near Munising Michigan and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
We only had to walk 5-minutes from our campsite to the shore of Lake Superior.

As a national forest service campground, we couldn’t find a place that offered better value.

Moreover, we were right on Lake Superior (a mere 5-minute walk from our campsite), a few minutes driving from the center of Munising, and a few more from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

All things considered, the Bay Furnace Campground worked out really well for us.

Boys playing on a sand bar in Lake Superior near Munising Michigan and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Peri and Kai loved playing on this sandbar.

Suffice it to say, we did a lot of swimming here.

mother and two children playing in Lake Superior near Munising Michigan
The overcast weather didn’t stop us. After all, we were wet anyway!

And…

If you also stay in the Bay Furnace Campground sometime around mid-August, you’ll likely be able to enjoy the bounty of blueberries that naturally grow throughout the campground.

boys picking blueberries at the Bay Furnace Campground in Munising Michigan
Peri and Kai never biked far in the campground, as they liked to take blueberry breaks!
blueberry bushes
The bushes were heavy with sweet berries.

Keep in mind, The Bay Furnace Campground does not offer any hookups, but there are water spigots and pit toilets sprinkled throughout the campground. And again, the location is prime.

There are a few campsites that are directly on the lake, think waterfront property. However, the camp host (the person who volunteers to tend to the camp and in exchange gets to stay for free) said many of those spots are booked months in advance. So if you want one of those waterfront spots, plan ahead!

NOTE: There are also a number of first come first served campsites at the Bay Furnace Campground. However, the safest bet for snagging a spot here is to make a reservation in advance online at recreation.gov. We arrived on a busy summer Saturday, and we got lucky to find a campsite, but we saw a number of other folks circling around the sites that seemingly weren’t as lucky as we were.

Pasties

Not to be confused with the decorative nipple covering, these delicious meat pies, pronounced PASS-tees, are a tradition in Munising that started way back in the mid-1800s. And even today, you’ll definitely want to taste one for yourself!

In short, a whole bunch of Cornish miners immigrated to the UP, and with them, they brought their baking tradition. Practically speaking, the meat pies were easy for them to bring down into the mines, and ever since, Pasties have been a hallmark of UP cuisine.

We tried the Yooper at Miners Pasties.

A pastie at Miners Pasties in the Upper Peninsula in Munising Michigan
Flaky pastry and delicious filling make this a must-try UP treat! (Photo Credit)

But…

We’d love to know if there are any other UP pastie spots you’d recommend. So if you have any suggestions, leave us a comment below.

Boat Bike And UTV Rentals

If you have decided to indulge in a pastie or two, you’ll probably want to burn a few calories. Or maybe you just like the great outdoors.

Fortunately, in Munising, you can rent bikes (road and mountain), boats (motorized and non-motorized), and UTVs.

In and around the area there are plenty of places to use your toys, so if you don’t have your own gear, or you don’t care to bring it, the many rental shops in town have you covered.

Guided Tours

Quite naturally, many of the rental shops offer guided tours. So, if you’re looking to simply enjoy the natural beauty in and around the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, consider hiring a local guide. They’ll take care of all the logistics, and you’ll be able to focus on simply having a good time.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Minutes From Munising Michigan

Technically, Munising is not inside Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but it is a mere 5-minute drive to the lakeshore boundary. So, if you’re in Munising, you’ll nearly be in the lakeshore area.

Of the many things you can do in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area such as skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, boating, sailing, and birdwatching, if you know us at all, you know we usually tend towards hiking.

So, while we were in the area we hiked our butts off and found some real gems ranging from trails that are suitable for beginner hikers and others that might be best left for more experienced hikers.

Below are the details on all the hikes we did as well as a few that we’ve bookmarked for the next time we visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Our Favorite Munising Michigan Hike – Chapel Rock Trail To Chapel Beach Trail

The Chapel Rock Trail to the Chapel Beach Trail is about 6 miles, round trip, on flat non-technical terrain. Given the length, and especially if you’re hiking with kids that might need to be carried for a portion of the way, we consider this trail suitable for intermediate/advanced hikers.

Chapel Rock Trail to the Chapel Beach Trail map
We hiked the purple line in a counterclockwise direction.

With that said, this was hands down our favorite hike of the ones we did, though the Sand Point Marsh Trail, detailed below, was a close second.

In any case, we hiked this loop trail in a counterclockwise fashion, and we suggest you do the same, as that’ll allow you to see Chapel Falls before you spend time relaxing on Chapel Beach.

Chapel Falls

The trail starts by cutting through an old-growth maple forest.

two young boys hiking on the Chapel Rock Trail in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Peri and Kai are in their happy place when they’re hiking, most of the time.

Eventually, you get to chapel falls.

Chapel Falls
Chapel Falls

While you can’t easily get down to the bottom of the falls, the top is great for a quick snack or picnic.

family picnic at the top of Chapel Falls near Munising Michigan

And of course, it’s a nice spot for a family photo too.

ShySki family photo at Chapel Falls
We’re happy when we’re hiking!

Chapel Beach

Eventually, through the forest, you’ll get your first glimpse of Chapel Beach. The color of the water reminded me of Ko Yao Yai, Thailand.

Chapel Beach on Lake Superior
The water was brilliantly turquoise and crystal clear.

Then, you’ll arrive at the beach itself.

boys and Mom playying on Chapel Beach
A stream was flowing onto the beach which made for a fun play place.

Lake Superior is so large that it looks like an ocean.

people kayaking on Lake Superior near Chapel Beach
There were a number of folks on a guided kayak tour.

Of course, you’ll be able to enjoy the famous Chapel Rock.

Chapel Rock
Chapel Rock

If you’re inclined as we were, take a selfie to remember the beach vibes, the turquoise water, and the lovely sunny beach!

happy couple taking selfie on chapel beach
Sunshine and sand make us happy!

Chapel Lake

If you’ve hiked The Chapel Rock Trail to the Chapel Beach Trail (i.e. if you’ve gone counterclockwise as we’ve suggested above), you’ll pass Chapel Lake on your way back to your car. We didn’t spend much time here, but Chapel Lake could be a destination in and of itself.

Chapel Lake in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Chapel Lake

Eventually, you’ll do a small climb back to the parking lot, and your Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach adventure will come to a close.

Other Great Hikes Near Munising Michigan

While the Chapel Rock to the Chapel Beach trail was our favorite hike in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, if 6 miles round trip is a bit too much for you, the next few are shorter, easier, and still engaging and scenic options.

Sand Point Marsh Trail

Sand Point Marsh Trail map
We hiked from the Sand Point Marsh Trail to the Connector Trail to the North Country Trail.

The Sand Point Marsh Trail is handicapped accessible. And, at about 0.5 miles round trip, this is a great option if you’re looking for a scenic yet beginner-friendly hike.

Mother and two young boys standing next to the Sand Point Marsh Trail sign
The Sand Point Marsh Trail trailhead.

Nearly the entire trail follows a wooden boardwalk throughout the marsh. If you go at either dusk or dawn, you’ll be able to see all kinds of wildlife.

Sand Point Marsh
One of the many views you’ll get while winding your way through the marsh.

At both the beginning and end of the loop, if you are in the area in late summer, you can find a bounty of fresh wild blueberries. We let Peri and Kai enjoy a few, but we made sure to leave the majority for the animals.

toddler picking blueberries on the Sand Marsh Trail in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Kai was thrilled to be able to pick and eat his own blueberries!

If you’re tuckered out by the end of the 0.5-mile loop, it’ll be time to head home.

Alternatively, if you still have some pep left in your step, consider continuing on to the intersection with the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) via the Sand Point North Country Connector Trail.

We carried on up to the NCT, and we very much enjoy the small section of NCT that we experienced.

Sand Point North Country Connector Trail

The short connector trail was STUNNING and paralleled Lake Superior. There were many spots where the boys “bushwhacked” out to the lake itself.

toddlers climbing on downed trees on the Sand Point North Country Connector Trail
Natural playgrounds are Peri and Kai’s favorites.

Again, there were tons of blueberries.

boy picking blueberries on the Sand Point North Country Connector Trail
Kai couldn’t get enough.

And there were equally as many good spots for a snack break.

family take a snack break while hiking in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
We’re fine sitting on the ground because as the boys like to say, “A little dirt don’t hurt.”

Eventually, you’ll climb up a bit in elevation to get up to the North Country Trail.

Mother and toddler hiking up to the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Julia spotted Kai on the stairs.

Peri and Kai did the entire climb all by themselves.

Hiking up stairs to get to the North Country National Scenic Trail
Still going up!

And we were all rewarded with a lovely waterfall at the top!

family looking at a waterfall on the North Country National Scenic Trail
This small waterfall seemed to be a seasonal treat. We were glad to get to see it!

Eventually, we got to the intersection of the NCT, but the rewards didn’t end there.

the intersection of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).
We eventually arrived at the intersection of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).
North Country National Scenic Trail

In Brief, the North Country National Scenic Trail is a 4,800-mile trail that stretches between Middlebury, VT, and Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota.

North Country National Scenic Trail marker sign
These signs mark the way for 4,800 miles!

As I mentioned, the NCT in this area parallels Lake Superior a few hundred feet up in elevation, so there are LOTS of waterfalls you’ll get to see along the way.

Peri was eager to look over one, so we carefully let him get right to the edge. Don’t worry though, the camera angle makes it look like he’s closer than he really is.

boy looking over the edge of a waterfall on the North Country National Scenic Trail
Peri peering over the edge of a waterfall.

Thankfully, there were a number of well-maintained bog bridges, as there was a good bit of mud beneath.

toddler walking on a bog bridge near Munising Michigan
Kai moved slowly on the slippery bog bridges, and we were thankful he decided to do so.

And being here in summertime meant that the forest was a burstingly verdant paradise.

Mother and toddlers hiking in the Upper Penninsula
The lush green forest was a pleasure to play in.

Sand Point Beach

After you finish the Sand Point Marsh Trail, the Connector Trail, or even a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail, Sand Point Beach is a GREAT spot to sit back, relax, and rest your tired feet.

boy walking in Lake Superior near Sand Point Beach
Kai can’t stop himself when there’s water. Even when he’s in his clothing!

Miners Falls Trail

If you’re keen to see a waterfall in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area, but you’re not eager to hike too much, this will be a great easy hiking choice.

The entire trail is flat and smooth. No rocks or roots to worry about on this one.

boys running on the Miners Falls Trail
Peri and Kai ran down the flat smooth trail.

And before you know it, you’ll be at the Miners Falls!

family photo at the bottom of Miners Falls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
It was a little tricky to get down to the base of the falls, but we managed.

At a mere 1-mile round trip on very flat and non-technical terrain, this trail is an easy hike.

Boy resting on a bench on the Miners Falls Trail
Kai resting on a bench.

We weren’t sure if you’re technically allowed to go down to the falls, but we felt safe and comfortable doing so. And Kai was mesmerized by it all!

toddler standing at the bottom of Miners Falls
Kai loves rock scrambling, so this was a perfect spot for him.
Miners Falls Castle

If you don’t feel like hiking to the falls, but still want some beautiful views of Lake Superior, consider checking out Miners Castle. From our truck to the view pictured below, it took about 5 minutes of gentle walking.

Miners Castle
The view at Miners Castle
Miners Beach

And, since you’ll be in the area, why not check out Miners Beach?

the path to Miners Beach
Lots of picnic and bbq sites here!

The path to the beach is short, probably less than 500 feet, is completely flat, and has some bbq sites and picnic benches along the way. You can come here for a picnic, and then…

You can enjoy Miners Beach!

Miners Beach
There is plenty of room to enjoy Miners Beach.

Munising Falls Trail

Something we wanted to do in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was to check out Munising Falls. After all, we stayed in Munising.

Munising Falls
Munising Falls (Photo Credit)

However, the trail leading to Munising Falls had a huge sinkhole, so unfortunately it was closed.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Another spot we wanted to check out was the Au Sable Point Lighthouse located on the east end of the national lakeshore near Grand Marais. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time for this.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse
The Au Sable Point Lighthouse (Photo Credit)

Plan Your Own Outdoor Family Adventure To Munising Michigan

By now we hope you have enough information and inspiration to plan your own outdoor family adventure to Munising, Michigan and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

As always, if you have comments or questions, please leave them below, and in the meantime, happy adventuring!

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