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.
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.
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.
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.
Suffice it to say, we did a lot of swimming here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The trail starts by cutting through an old-growth maple forest.
Eventually, you get to 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.
And of course, it’s a nice spot for a family photo too.
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.
Then, you’ll arrive at the beach itself.
Lake Superior is so large that it looks like an ocean.
Of course, you’ll be able to enjoy the famous 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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Again, there were tons of blueberries.
And there were equally as many good spots for a snack break.
Eventually, you’ll climb up a bit in elevation to get up to the North Country Trail.
Peri and Kai did the entire climb all by themselves.
And we were all rewarded with a lovely waterfall at the top!
Eventually, we got to the intersection of the NCT, but the rewards didn’t end there.
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.
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.
Thankfully, there were a number of well-maintained bog bridges, as there was a good bit of mud beneath.
And being here in summertime meant that the forest was a burstingly verdant paradise.
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.
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.
And before you know it, you’ll be at the Miners Falls!
At a mere 1-mile round trip on very flat and non-technical terrain, this trail is an easy hike.
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!
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.
And, since you’ll be in the area, why not check out Miners Beach?
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!
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.
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.
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!