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Diggin’ the Dunes in the UP: Pictured Rocks.

Submitted by: Laura Niemiec

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore captivates its audience year round, but as summer ends and the colors begin to burst in the forests, it transforms into a wonderland of beauty everywhere you look. This year was my 5th year making the 8-hour trek to lakeshore located in the Upper Peninsula, with stops in Mackinaw and Tahquamenon en route. I usually book a hotel or rent a home for the trip but this time decided to take my chances with the weather and camp. Twelevemile Beach, located in the heart of the National Lakeshore, right on the shore of Lake Superior, was the perfect spot to set up camp.

The trail to Munising Falls

From here, adventures are limitless from the trails to waterfalls in the National Lakeshore to ones scattered just a short distance around Munising. On the Munising end of the lakeshore, if it’s your first time visiting, popular spots like Miners Castle, Miners Falls, and Miners Beach will likely be on your list. My favorite area near Miners is at the east end of the beach where there is a secret waterfall, Elliot Falls. If you’re up for a solid day of hiking, the Chapel/Mosquito Beach area is great. A 9-mile loop winds you through the thick of things allowing you to visit Chapel Falls, Chapel Rock, Chapel Beach, and Mosquito Beach.

Miners Castle

Closer to Grand Marais, you’ll find a 1.5 mile long trail that runs adjacent to Lake Superior leading you to the Au Sable Light Station. Just a short drive up the road is a short trail that leads you to the Logslide Overlook. The views are expansive and the kid in you may just want to run down the steep sand dune but be advised, it’s a long way back to the top and a sign at entrance warns that it could take up to an hour to get back to the top. Even closer yet to Grand Marais is the Sable area – Grand Sable Dunes, Grand Sable Lake, and Sable Falls – all beautiful sights that cause you to pause and just be in the moment.

Log Slide Overlook

Are you hungry after all of your exploring? Twelvemile Beach is located about 20 miles west of Grand Marais and about 28 miles east of Munising which makes it pretty central for grabbing a warm meal before or after your adventure if you’re not up for cooking over a campfire. Lake Superior Brewing Company at the Dunes Saloon in Grand Marais is a great place to stop and grab a bite or brew. They have a full menu and serve up brew from Lake Superior Brewing Company that is brewed on site. In Munising, a sprinkle bagel from Furnace Bay Bagel Co. is a must or if you’d like to start your morning at a slower pace, check out Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore for a hot beverage and a hearty breakfast. A stop by Muldoons Pasties & Gifts is always on my list. From the traditional pasties (hand pies) to desert pasties (the pumpkin and apple are both divine), to fudge and souvenirs, you’ll not walk out empty handed or with an empty belly. Also, it’s hard to pass up a photo opportunity with the tall statue of bigfoot right outside the shop.

Bigfoot at Muldoons Pasties & Gifts

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