Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls
My husband and I had talked about going to the U.P. for a while (the Upper Peninsula for you non-Michigan folk). It's a bit of a trek so you really have to make it a point to get there. There is some beautiful scenery (that's an understatement) and going to Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls has been on my list of places to visit. Thank goodness we had some friends ask us to join them on a trip to said places recently. We don't always make having fun a priority, work usually comes first. This actually forced us to wrap up our work week and take off for the weekend.
If you haven't gone to the U.P., you shouldn't go. It's not beautiful or peaceful or relaxing...just kidding. I had to see if you were paying attention. You should go! It's amazing. We hiked, and hiked some more, and saw what looked like the ocean (Lake Superior), but more beautiful, dare I say? There were many camera-worthy waterfalls and beach scenes. Plus, in most areas, you didn't have cell service. It was glorious being forced to power down. We were not glued to our phones (except when there was a brief moment of 3G or LTE, then we all hopped on and used those few minutes very wisely).
The car ride up was pretty easy, being with friends made it go quick. We stopped at a place for lunch right before the Mackinac Bridge (which takes you into the U.P.) at a Mexican BBQ joint (check out my instagram stories on my profile for more photos of the trip). It was delish and I would go back.
Before checking into our AirBnb, we first stopped at Tahquamenon Falls. We started at the lower falls, which is a great place to hang out and walk through the water. On a hot day, this is where you would want to be. I would recommend exploring the lower falls; if you walk away from the busy area, there is a trail that takes you to a more quiet part of the falls.
The upper falls was next and it was amazing. But going there is mainly to watch the large waterfall and take some photos. We stayed there for a bit, but there wasn't anything to do per se. This was very easy to do on the same day. We fit this all in in about 2-3 hours.
Saturday was the day we explored. We hiked, and found waterfalls, and looked over the dunes on the most beautiful views of Lake Superior. We managed to hike over 10 miles that day, getting in over 26,000 steps. Our itinerary as follows:
Sable Falls was our first stop of the day. We took a short walk (with a few stairs involved) to the waterfall. It felt like a hidden gem in the woods. I really liked this stop for some reason. It was peaceful and so lush and green (but mostly everything was).
We drove next to Log Slide Overlook. The walk to the dunes was short and the view was incredible. I highly recommend stopping here. From Log Slide, you can see the Au Sable Lighthouse. You can hike from Log Slide to the lighthouse, but we wanted to have our vehicle, so we drove to the trail and hiked to the lighthouse, which was over a mile to get there. We sat down and had lunch here. You can tour the lighthouse, but we opted to keep moving.
Next up was the Chapel Basin Trail. This trailhead gives you a few different hiking options. You can hike what's called Chapel Loop, and take the trail all the way around, in a big loop. It's quite a long hike (better to reserve this hike for it’s own day) so we opted for something different. We first hiked to Mosquito Falls (cue the laughter and tears). This hike was fun, but it was a lot of up and down and around trees and roots. At the end was a small waterfall/river. It was beautiful, but I might not choose to take that trail again. Once and done kind of thing. If you need to burn some extra calories, do it.
After we finished that hike, it brought us back to the trailhead. Then we went in the opposite direction of Mosquito Falls and hiked to Chapel Falls. This was a perfect walk through the woods. The bugs weren't bad for us, but definitely bring some bug spray.
Miners Castle was next on the list. This wasn't really a hike, more just an overlook of Pictured Rocks. This was really the first time we could see the rocks. There is an upper and lower overlook. We first stopped at the upper overlook and then took the short walk down to the lower (my legs were feeling the miles at this point!). And lastly, Miners Falls rounded out our day. This took us to another amazing waterfall. It was a nice walk to finish our day.
And now we come to our last day. We intended to take a boat trip/kayak tour of Pictured Rocks. That morning we showed up and our trip was canceled due to the weather, we would not have made it if we were in kayaks. The waves were pretty intense. Instead we booked a boat tour with Pictured Rocks Cruises. The tour took you along the shoreline, giving you great views of the rocks. You also learn some fun facts about the rocks and Lake Superior. It was a very smooth ride even in the choppy waves.