If you’re up for a good day hike, or a very leisurely two-day backpacking adventure, Chapel Loop is an excellent way to see Pictured Rocks from above. I especially recommend it if you don’t have the chance to see the rocks from the water.
According to this book the hike is 9.7 miles. We hike closer to 11 miles, because we wander off a few times, which happens with my camera and I. Also, Matt stops periodically to do some fishing.
We park at the Chapel trailhead, apply massive amounts of bug spray and sunscreen (gross, but it works), and take the trail towards Chapel Falls. It can be a bit busy around the trailhead because there are short and easy hikes to waterfalls in both directions. We hike fast through the first mile and a half to speed right by Chapel Falls (that is, get past all the people).
About three miles into the hike, we hit the shoreline of Lake Superior, and turn left at the Lakeshore Trail and Chapel Rock. We cross the bridge over the stream that drains into Lake Superior. Matt takes off to fish, so I go to the beach to take pictures.
This is what Chapel Rock looks like from the beach. Chapel Beach would be a good spot to break for a swim or for lunch, but it’s pretty busy, and we didn’t bring lunch, so Matt and I continue walking along the beach (and skip a few rocks).
Then we head back up the steps to the trail.
And here is where we sloooow way down because the views are gorgeous and the water is an unbelievable shade of green.
Though it’s hard to look away from the water, I’m also keeping an eye on the trail because… Lady Slippers!
Right around the 5 mile mark is where we hit this view of Grand Portal Point, and stop for a break. This is the point where we wish we would’ve brought a beer because this spot needs to be fully appreciated. And there is plenty of room to spread out off the trail, so we sit and eat a granola bar instead. Matt finds a Bell’s Two Hearted beer coozie which makes his day.
Back on the trail, I continue to go down every single overgrown little path to look out at these views that just won’t quit. Matt holds aside branches so I can snap away unobstructed. He doesn’t mind all the stops, because, you know, the coozie.
Not too far down the trail is Indian Head Point. We hang out here for a bit even though it’s hot and exposed, it’s just so beautiful.
Further down the trail, we get a nice view of the other side of Indian Head Point.
A little after 9 miles, there is a junction to head back to the Chapel trailhead, but we decide to go a little further to check out Mosquito Beach. We kayaked and camped here over 13 years ago, there is so much more beach than I remember.
From here, we take the trail to Mosquito Falls so Matt can see if the fish are biting, and they are, like crazy. At this point, my camera is put away because my bug spray wore off and I need my hands for swatting. The bugs are also biting like crazy. So we quickly hike to the car and head back to Munising for a well deserved beer (and pizza too!).
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