Chapel Loop Trail- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you are searching for a wonderful day hike I would highly recommend the Chapel Loop Hike- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. This is a 10 mile loop with breathtaking views along the gorgeous lakeshore bluffs of Lake Michigan.

This was our first time hiking this trail and I am extremely thrilled to say #1 we made the entire 10 miles and #2 it will be repeated again! Here is what we did, where we stayed, and advice for anyone thinking about attempted this hike.

We drove from our home in WI and stayed the night in Munising, MI which is about 20 minutes from the trail head. Before leaving home, I contacted the park ranger and we discussed the black fly problem and bear precautions. He informed me that the black flies are normally gone by September but could linger depending on the weather. We purchased headnets to wear in the instance that these were still lingering although we never needed them. The only place we encounter them was when we were on the beach and they were not too horrible. As for bear precautions, as much as I hated spending $50 on a can of bear spray, I did it anyhow. My husband wore this the entire hike on the outside of his pack for easy access if needed. Thankfully, the only bear we saw was in the backyard of our hotel and I was safely inside our room looking out at this fine creature. I will say, however, that along the trail we did run into a few other hikers and backcountry campers whom all had their bear spray visible and ready also, so I felt a little safer knowing that we had ours too. Now, as for the trail….we arrived just before 8am Saturday morning and the parking lot only had a few cars in it. We used the bathroom facility, took a look at the maps, warnings, and such on the board and decided to head the direction of Chapel Falls.

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The first part of this trail was wide and went through big, beautiful forest.

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Not far in we heard Chapel Falls.

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Then we headed further towards Chapel Rock. This was really amazing.

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IMG_2533After Chapel Rock you will continue down the trail to Chapel Beach. This is also the location of the first campsite area for back country campers.  IMG_2547

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And an area that had restrooms. I was very thankful for this and I must say, this was one of the nicest signs I saw along the trail.

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When I came out I found my husband had stripped of his pack, shoes, and socks and was enjoying the cool waters of the lake.

IMG_2562 IMG_2559 After a nice break here we headed up further to Grand Portal Point. These few miles went by so quickly because the views we saw as we hiked the bluffs edge were just spectacular.  IMG_2568  IMG_2594

IMG_2589As you round the back side of Grand Portal Point you come to a very nice area for a break. At this point you are about half way finished.  IMG_2631

If you decide to sit and have a snack, watch your packs, critters are very friendly on this trail. We met this little fella begging for one of our almonds.

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As you make your way further you will see beautiful blue water, rock ledges, and what is known as Lover’s Leap Arch.  IMG_2522

IMG_2520This is all while hiking along the lakeshore on, at times, a very narrow path near the edge, caution is needed.Your next big stop will be at Mosquito Beach/Camp which is also camp area #2 for campers.We found this much more busy with tourists and moved pretty quickly through this area toward Mosquito Falls.  IMG_2650

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By this time we were getting pretty tired. The trail had turned from packed dirt, to sand, and these last few miles were loose rocks and tree roots causing huge tripping hazards it seemed. We slowed our pace to not injure ourselves and upon arriving at the falls my husband actually took his shoe off again to soak his foot for a bit. (Remember, he is recovering from a herniated disc that has left him with nerve damage in that leg/foot and ice cold water helps)  IMG_2661

While he did this I explored the area.

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IMG_2628All that was left after this was the parking lot. Which seemed to be miles from where we were but was actually only about another mile. When we arrived back at the parking lot I was completely speechless……….there were so many cars that they had started parking up both sides of the dirt road for almost an entire mile. My advice is if you plan to do any part of this hike arrive early. Very early.

We accomplished this 10 mile hike is just over 6 hrs, with two breaks for a snack and two rest periods in the water. After finishing for the day we returned to our hotel, ate dinner, and were both in bed by 7pm exhausted but extremely grateful for accomplishing this hike. It was wonderful!

My personal thoughts: I loved this hike, however, I am one that loves rock, bluffs, and waterfalls. If you are the same, then you should also enjoy this hike. There is a lot of different terrain here, nothing severe, but different throughout. Roots and rocks can be detrimental to toes so sandals would not be your best choice of footwear here. I thought the trails were very well marked until the last few miles. From Mosquito Campground until the parking lot they can be somewhat confusing so remember your trail map. And one last thing, because I know every female will appreciate this, yes you will find restrooms at the start, at Chapel Beach Campground, and at Mosquito Beach Campground HOWEVER bring your own TP!

NOTE: We did run into one trail hazard along the route and it was well marked and a detour has been made by the park dept. It only brings you off trail a few yards at most. Be careful.  IMG_2626

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Weekend Snapshots: A Lazy Saturday and A Trial Hike With Photography Equipment

This weekend was all about relaxing and getting some last minute organizing done before our vacation beings.

Saturday, I think I may have left my couch for a total of three hours all day. I am not quite sure what came over me but I really felt like doing nothing. So strange but I actually enjoyed the leisure time. I did manage a 3 mile walk with my hubby and a nice dinner out together. I was craving guacamole and he loves fajitas so mexican it was.

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That pretty much was our Saturday. We spent the rest of the day lounging around doing absolutely nothing.

Sunday we woke up with a lot more energy. My husband has been waiting for a calm wind day to try out his fly fishing technique and our son has been working on a better way to carry all is camera gear while hiking. So that meant I was going along for the trial hike with our son since I have no idea how to fly fish.

After a big hiking trip to the Porcupine Mountains a few weeks ago our son found that his original photography bag was not made for hiking in any way. He was miserable, sore and just plain disappointed with his entire setup. Which meant he was scrambling to figure out something for our vacation which also includes hiking great distances with elevation. The biggest dilemma was money. He has bought three camera bags already and one at a pretty hefty price. None of them have served him well on the trail yet, so he did not want to spend more money on a plan that did not work. So with some quick thinking we came up with a good solution. He will be using my husbands old backpack and stuffing one of his smaller, padded camera backpacks inside for organization and protection.

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This way he can still carry a water bladder, which no camera bag has ever allowed him to do, and snacks along with the gear he feels he will need on the trail. Here is a look at what the inside looks like.

IMG_1925 For now we zip tied the smaller camera backpack straps down into a smaller size near the top so they would not take up space. After our trip, if this seems to work out, he plans to either cut them off permanently or purchase just the padded organizer that would be needed for his gear. He did find this system to be much more well balanced on his hips during todays trial hike. He also thought it was great to have water along which is huge where we are headed on vacation. So this seems to be the setup he is going to try and we all hope it works out to be better.

As for the trail we hiked today, lets just say I was a very happy hiker today. I saw only frogs and no snakes. Just the way I like it:)  IMG_1926  IMG_1922