Submitted by: Laura Niemiec
The day after I visited Tahquamenon Falls, Crisp Point Light and Whitefish Point I traveled west from Paradise, Michigan to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to check another lighthouse off of my list, the Au Sable Light Station at Au Sable Point. I checked out of the hotel before dawn and made the drive to Grand Marais, about an hour and a half drive, by daybreak.
Once you’ve made it to Grand Marais there are a couple of stops you can make prior to arriving at the trailhead to the lighthouse. My first stop was a visit to Sable Falls, one of the dozens of waterfalls in the UP. It’s a short hike from the parking lot to the 75-foot falls but keep in mind there are lots of stairs to traverse. If you’re up for another quick hike, it’s only about half mile down the Sable Falls Trail from the falls to the shoreline of Lake Superior.
After you leave the Sable Falls, just down the road you can pull over to take in the view of Grand Sable Lake, or just past the lake, you can stop at the Log Slide Overlook. Though I didn’t stop on this trip, it’s a beautiful vista where, in the late 1800’s, logs were hauled by horse teams and slid down chutes to LakeSuperior where they would be loaded onto rafts and then towed to sawmills. If you’re feeling adventurous you can scramble down 500 feet to the shoreline and have fun trying to climb back up to the top. If you are not into waterfalls, or scenic stops, just keep winding west down the road to the Hurricane River Campground where the trailhead to the lighthouse begins.
Once you’ve arrived at the campground be sure to park in the day use lot. To get to the lighthouse, it is a 1.5-mile hike (that’s 3 miles round trip) on a stretch of the North Country Trail with woods to your right and part of the stretch of the Lake Superior shoreline to your left that is known as the “Shipwreck Coast”. (Side Note: If you’re not familiar with the North County Trail, it’s a trail whose full length runs 4600 miles from New York to North Dakota).
There are signs along the way to the light prompting you to veer off of the trail walk the beach to check out the remains of shipwrecks from over a century ago. I recommend stepping off of the trail and take a peek.
As you approach your destination you may think you’re seeing a mirage but as you get closer you’ll realize it’s the lighthouse, perfectly framed by the trees, ready for you to take its photograph.
The original building construction, in 1874, on the grounds of the Au Sable Point consisted of the white and black lighthouse tower and the brick keepers’ quarters. Later a boat house, fog signal building, a second keepers’ house, along with a few other out buildings were added, most of which still stand to this day – including one of two brick outhouses. Taking advantage of the warm October day up north I spent a good two hours wandering the property and shoreline below before heading back towards the campground and continuing on to Munising to do more exploring.
You can take a guided tour the keepers’ quarters and lighthouse at Au Sable Point mid-June through September for a $3 fee.
Au Sable Light Station: https://www.nps.gov/piro/learn/historyculture/ausablelightstation.htm
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: https://www.nps.gov/piro/index.htm
A Girl + Her Photographs: http://www.agirlandherphotographs.com
You can read about Laura’s trip to Crisp Point, here.
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