Our camping trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – August 21-28, 2010
We left fairly early Saturday morning for our end of summer camping trip to the upper peninsula. Everyone was ready for a break by the time we reached Mackinaw City so we walked around the town and had some lunch at a little deli. The girls had some money to spend from helping work at Mac Boat House during the summer so we also had to stop at the toy store. They had trouble making up their mind so we talked them into a “rocket balloon” set that ended up being very fun. Then we headed over the bridge and on to Indian Lake State Park in Manistique.
Indian Lake State Park, Manistique Michigan
We finally made it to Indian Lake and had camp setup by late afternoon. We stayed at site #71 which was right on the lake and of course across from the bathhouse. The wind was blowing very strong right off the lake and we ended up having to eat dinner inside. Since it was our first night we decided that we should still try and have a fire. Just as we were starting to setup the wood a nice family from Charelviox invited us over to share their fire that was already blazing in the wind.
We spent the rest of the night trying to stay warm by our neighbors fire and watching the sunset over Indian Lake. The cool weather actually felt good for a change after all the hot and humid 90 degree days that we had this summer.
The campground at Indian Lake was in a fairly open and grassy area. Like most state parks their was not much privacy. The bathhouses were the older style but were well maintained. The only bad thing was that they only had one shower so if you went in the morning their was a wait. While we were there most of the sites on the lake were filled but the rest of the campground was open. There was not a beach area by the campgrounds, the lake access had stairs that just ended right into the lake. The day use area had a small beach and swimming area and nice paved path that ran from the campgrounds to the boat launch along the lake.
Visiting Kitch-Iti-Kpi (The Big Spring) at Palms Brook State Park.
The next morning we visited Kitch-Iti-Kpi (The Big Springs) at Palms Brook State Park. You take a hand operated observation raft over the 40 foot deep spring. It gushes 10,000 gallons per minutes and is Michigan’s largest spring.
Looking down through the hole in the center of the observation raft.
This is one of my favorite pictures with the clear aqua blue water and the reflection of the morning sun off the trees.
After visiting the springs we had a picnic lunch near the beach in Manistique.
After lunch we walked the 2 mile path along the lake and out on the pier to the lighthouse. On the way back to the campground we stopped at the Thompson Sate fish hatchery, but it was a little disappointing. About the only place that you could get close enough to see any fish was the pond in the back. We were told that some of the other hatcheries in the state are more visitor friendly.
In the afternoon dad went for a bike ride. The Michigan Trail Atlas said that The Indian River Pathway was open to mountain biking in the summer so he thought he would check it out. The trails were pretty overgrown and it looked like they are mainly used for cross country skiing in the winter. After going in a little ways it was decided that doing some riding on the road was a better choice. We also rode through the Indian Lake Sate Park rustic campground on the other side of lake. There were only a few people camping here. The sites were a long way from the water in a heavily forested area and very close together for a rustic campgrounds.
Grand Marais, Michigan
The Grand Marais Harbor.
After 2 nights we decided to move on to Grand Marais where we spent the rest of the week.
Woodland Park in Grand Marais is probably one of our favorite campgrounds to stay at. The campsites are just average, they are in an open area with a few large shade trees and have little privacy. The fire pit in the back of site was only about 15 feet from the neighbors pit. Luckily when we had some neighbors later in the week they had friends at another site and used their fire pit or it would have seemed at little strange to be so close. However, it is hard to beat being right on Lake Superior with a great beach next to the Grand Sable Dunes and Pictured Rocks. The campgrounds and the bathhouses are also very well maintained.
We stayed at site #6 which was back one row from the lake, but just a short walk to the beach access stairs. There was also a small playground across the street where the girls spent a lot of time. Behind the playground there are some rustic tent site that are away from all the big campers and look pretty nice. The campgrounds was about half full early in the week, but by Thursday afternoon campers started pulling in and by Friday it was almost full.
We spent the first afternoon on the beach. Lake Superior was actually warm enough to swim in. At this beach the kids can spend all day collecting rocks along the shore.
The next day we drove to the Hurricane River to walk on the beach and eat lunch. Just when we started eating the biting flies started eating us so we had to quickly finish our sandwiches and get out of there.
The Hurricane River flowing into Lake Superior.
Paddling the Grand Sable Dunes.
The girls spent the afternoon on the beach while dad paddled along the Grand Sable Dunes.
The clouds and the wind from the coming cold front starting to blow in.
For more on the paddling in this area see: Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Superior and Michigan: The Best Day Trips and Tours
Since it was raining we decided to go into town and have dinner at one of our favorite “up north” restaurants. The Lake Superior Brewing Company is only a few blocks from the campground. (this picture was taken on a different morning) The white fish sandwich is very good and they also have pizza for the kids.
Visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
The next morning was cool and windy, but dry. We decided that it would be a good day to drive towards Munising and see the Pictured Rocks overlooks and walk to some of the water falls. About half way to Miners Castle it started to rain again so instead of a picnic we went to Munising for lunch and then to the Pictured Rocks Visitor Center.
After lunch the rain let up and we visited Munising Falls.
Then we walked the 1/2 mile trail out to Miner’s Falls.
Then it was on to the Pictured Rocks Miner’s Castle Overlook. The sun was just starting peak through the clouds when we stopped here. The wind was still very strong and the waves were crashing into the rocks.
Watching the waves through the window at the Miner’s Castle Overlook.
Back in Grand Marais the waves were really crashing into the pier.
At night there was a double rainbow right at sunset.
The rainbow at over the beach.
It was hard to know which way to look. There was a perfect sunset and rainbow at the same time.
The sunset from up by the campgournd…we have watched some of the best sunsets at this beach.
Hiking the Chapel Loop in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
The next morning I got an early start to hike the famous Chapel Loop.
The first stop on the hike was Chapel Falls. The Chapel Falls trail was wide and flat. It was a very easy walk from parking lot to the to the intersection with the Lakeshore Trail.
Chapel Rock is just after the intersection with the Lakeshore Trail. The tree on the top has a big root that goes across the gap to the mainland and this is were it gets most of it’s water and nutrients. It is hard to believe this tree survives on top of this rock on the edge of Lake Superior.
The morning sun on the rocks near Chapel Beach.
Approaching Grand Portal Point on the Lakeshore Trail.
Grand Portal Point.
The beach on the top of Grand Portal was a good place for a short rest.
Looking back towards Indian Head from the Lakeshore Trial.
The Lakeshore Trail is fairly easy walk on a single track that is often only a few feet from the edge of the cliffs.
Darker stained rocks along the trail.
The sea arch known as Lover’s Leap on the way to Mosquito Beach.
The sand stone layers near Mosquito Beach.
The Mosquito Falls.
The 10.5 mile loop took just under 4 hours to complete, with a couple short rests at Grand Portal Point and Mosquito Beach. When starting at 7:45 am the parking area only had 3 cars left overnight by backpackers. There were only a couple people along most of the tail and they were by the back county campgrounds at Miner’s Beach and Mosquito Beach. Close to the Mosquito Falls it started to get busy and arriving back at the parking area it was completely full and cars were starting park up the road. If you plan to do this hike an early start is recommended. Many hiking books rate this as one of the top loops in Michigan and it does not disappoint.
For more on the Chapel Loop and other Pictured Rocks Hikes see: Hiking Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: A Guide to the Area’s Greatest Hikes
Paddling Around Au Sable Point – A morning paddle from the Hurricane River out past the Au Sable Point Lighthouse.
The morning sun reflecting off the top of the Au Sable Point Lighthouse.
Landing at Au Sable Point.
There are the remains of 3 shipwrecks on shore near Au Sable Point. Above is the remains of the Sitka a 272 foot wooden steamer that went down in 1904. It is hard to believe it is still here after over 100 years on the beach.
Paddling to Sable Falls
Paddling the tandem kayak from the Woodland Park beach to the mouth of the Sable River.
From the beach it is about a 0.25 mile walk up to the falls.
Happy to be at the falls.
The cray fish that we found in the lake near the mouth of the Sable River was much more exciting than the falls.
Rocks at the mouth of the Sable River.
The Log Slide Overlook
Late evening is the best time to view the Grand Sable Dunes from the Log Slide Overlook. It is just a short walk from the parking.
Painting the side of the popup. We had a great week in da U.P.
Our family doesn’t mind walking a little further than the average person to find the perfect spot on the beach. That’s why the Wonder Wheeler comes with us on every trip, we use it all summer long! It can handle up to 100 lbs. and we don’t need to leave anything behind- beach chairs, boogie boards, 2 umbrellas, cooler of food and drinks, books, towels, everything you need to enjoy a long day at the beach. On sidewalks, boardwalks and hard packed trails the Wonder Wheeler pushes with very little effort. When you get to the soft sand, just turn it around and drag it behind you. The oversized wheels can handle the sand, no problem.
It also comes in handy when a picnic lunch is needed and so is the huge cooler full of food. The Wonder Wheeler makes going to the beach a breeze. The kids aren’t complaining about the walk because their hands are free and they can skip ahead and enjoy the day- and so can you. – MMT Mom
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