Having seen Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from the water side twice but never from the interior, we opted for a hiking day within the park boundaries. There are several different hikes to choose from, Day Hikes, some quite short, others a few hours long. Overnight & weekend long hikes are popular, & then there’s the North Country Trail hike that courses through the park & beyond. This one’s not for the faint of heart.
We scan over the list of day hikes & choose 5. The park information on these hikes tells you how long of a trek it will be, distance wise. It neglects to state whether the trail is easy, moderate or rugged. So we guess. Well don’t always assume that a short hike is an easy hike. AND, don’t assume that distance means walking, it could also include steps. Lots & lots of wooden steps. Gazillions of wooden steps. Beginning to get the picture?
1st Hike- Munising Falls
Walk the paved quarter mile trail to the cool, shaded sandstone canyon along Munising Creek to the falls the guide says. 2 sets of stairs lead to platforms it says. Sounds easy enough & it is. The first hundred steps are always the easiest.
2nd Hike- Miners Falls
This trail is a mere 1.2 miles long. We add on another 77 of those wonderful wooden steps. Going down is a piece of cake, coming back up gets the old ticker working. Tack on a short stroll on paved walking paths to vantage viewing platforms to & on top of Miners Castle. The view is worth it! It’s a scene we’ve seen a million times in photos of the park but one you never tire of. Icing on the cake, a bald eagle soared over our heads.
3rd Hike- Sand Point Marsh Trail
It’s only a half mile. An easy walk. No stairs here. We do spend quite a bit of time here as it comes out on a secluded sandy beach & Tucker enjoys running along the shoreline with forays into the water then up onto the sand to roll around in it. Just being a dog.
4th Hike- Sable Falls
The trail is only 3/4 of a mile of tripping over tree limbs every few steps, Oh! & LO & BEHOLD, just a few hundred more of those get your heart pounding steps. Now the thighs are quivering along with the racing of my heart.
But there is just one more sight I long to see……….
5th Hike- Grand Sable Dunes Trail
The park literature states that this hike is only a mile long. THEY LIE. That 1 mile only gets you to the low grassy portion of the dunes. To view Lake Superior from the top is another strenuous uphill trek. I’ll be damned if I’m leaving here without seeing the lake. It’s easier to hike the dunes with your shoes off but those tiny little granules of sand can sure get hot when they’ve been baking under the Summer sun all day.
We eventually arrive in Grand Marais
Don was looking forward to this part of our daylong trip. Memories of a delicious fried whitefish basket dinner from the Sportsman Restaurant dancing in his head. And believe or not, I was having visions of an ice cold beer in mine. We’d last eaten here 25 years ago. We share a fond memory of our youngest daughter coming here with us when she was 3 & falling asleep, THUNK, face down in her meal. Suffice it to say, the food nor the service is at all like we remember. At least the beer was cold.
What did I learn today
1) That the national park service MUST have plenty of carpenters in its employ.
2) That it doesn’t make for good advertisement to tell park visitors that all of the hikes climb upward, coming & going.
3) Restaurants aren’t always as you remember them.
4) That a hot shower makes you feel human again after washing all the sweat & bug spray off.
5) That liniment works wonders on tired achy muscles.
6) I’d do it all over again in a “pounding” heartbeat.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid………………….