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Pictured Rocks - Chapel Basin Loop

Trail Details

County
Alger
Regions
Eastern Upper Peninsula
Latitude
N 46° 31' 10.56"
Longitude
W 086° 27' 43.92"
Distance
10.4 miles
Trail Type
Foot path
Terrain
Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior
Difficulty
Moderate
Nearest City or Town
Munising
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The Lakeshore Trail is one of Michigan's classic backpacking treks, a 42.4-mile walk from Grand Marais to Munising. But if you don't have four to five days to spare or the desire to haul a backpack for 40-plus miles, the Chapel Basin Loop is the perfect alternative. The hike begins and, more importantly, ends at Chapel trailhead parking lot, 14 miles east of Munising. The entire loop is a 10.4-mile walk over generally level terrain, making it either a long dayhike or an easy overnight outing. There are also several ways to shorten this trek, but in doing so you'll miss the extraordinary scenery that has made this national park so famous and the loop such an exceptional walk. The first ...
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Description
The Lakeshore Trail is one of Michigan's classic backpacking treks, a 42.4-mile walk from Grand Marais to Munising. But if you don't have four to five days to spare or the desire to haul a backpack for 40-plus miles, the Chapel Basin Loop is the perfect alternative.

The hike begins and, more importantly, ends at Chapel trailhead parking lot, 14 miles east of Munising. The entire loop is a 10.4-mile walk over generally level terrain, making it either a long dayhike or an easy overnight outing. There are also several ways to shorten this trek, but in doing so you'll miss the extraordinary scenery that has made this national park so famous and the loop such an exceptional walk.

The first leg of the loop is a hike to Lake Superior followed by a 4.7-mile segment of the Lakeshore Trail. You complete the loop and return to your vehicle via Mosquito Falls. Along the way you enjoy the most stunning stretches of the Pictured Rocks and pass five waterfalls.

There are also two backcountry campgrounds along this route to set up camp for the night. If you arrive in the morning, you can easily hike to the Mosquito River campsites, a trek of 7.8 miles. If you arrive in the afternoon or even the early evening, you can stop at Chapel Beach campsites, making the first day a walk of only 3.4 miles.
Amenities & Services
Camping
Difficulty - Moderate
Foot Path
Trail Guide

From the trailhead parking area you have a choice on how to reach Lake Superior and the Lakeshore Trail; Chapel Falls Trail or Chapel Lake Trail.  The vast majority of people chose the trail that passes the falls.

Chapel Falls Trail begins as an old road that heads north into the woods and makes a gentle but steady half-mile climb through a dense woods. In less than a mile from the trailhead you reach an overlook where you can gaze at Chapel Lake below and at Mile 1.3 you arrive at Chapel Falls, one of the most impressive in the park.

From the second observation deck at the falls, the trail swings north as a narrow path that uses planking to cross wet areas.  In less than 2 miles from the falls or at Mile 3.1, you descend sharply to Chapel Rock and a view of Lake Superior. The sandstone pillar is impressive while just 0.2 mile to the west are the Chapel Beach campsites.

For backpackers arriving late in the afternoon at the trailhead, this is the ideal place to camp. The 15 campsites are located on a wooded bluff above Chapel Beach, a half mile of beautiful sand with colorful sandstone cliffs at one end and a waterfall leaping into Lake Superior at the other.

From Chapel Beach it is a 1.6-mile walk to Grand Portal Point and from there another 2.9 miles to Mosquito River. Along the way you pass some of the most stunning scenery in the park. Don't rush this segment. You reach Mosquito River backcountry campground at Mile 7.8 where there are 10 sites in the woods above the reddish rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. This is a beautiful place to spend the night as you can view towering Pictured Rocks in both directions of the shoreline.

There are two routes back to the Chapel parking lot with Mosquito River Trail being the shortest, a walk of less than 2 miles. Mosquito Falls Trail, one of the newest trails in the park, is longer at 2.7 miles but the extra mileage is worth it. This trail is much more interesting as it passes three cascades along the way, including its namesake waterfall.

From the campsites descend to cross the foot bridge over Mosquito River and to the well-posted junction of the Mosquito Falls Trail. Head south (left). The trail begins with a steady climb as you gain more than 150 feet in the first half mile. When you top off, the trail swings east for a spell and then resumes heading south.

At Mile 9.4, the trail descends a small ravine to cross a branch of the Mosquito River, climbs out.and then quickly reaches the main branch. You actually hike south past Mosquito Falls to cross the river further upstream and then hike north past them again. The main cascade is where the river slides and drops 10 feet over layers of black rock. Continue along the trail and you’ll spot two more smaller falls in the next 200 yards.

The trail continues north but eventually swings away from the river and at Mile 10 arrives at a junction with Mosquito River Trail. Head east (right) and within 200 yards you’ll arrive at a junction with Chapel Lake Trail. Head south (right) here and you’ll be back at your vehicle in a third of a mile.

Facilities

Both campgrounds have backcountry toilets and bear poles but neither has safe drinking water. Bring a filter. These are also two of the most popular backcountry camping areas in the park. Reserve your site well in advance during the summer.

Hours & Fees

A backcountry camping permit is required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. The permit is only for the dates, locations, and party size specified and must be obtained via www.recreation.gov or by calling: 1-877-444-6777 (international callers: 1-518-885-3635).

There is a $15 reservation fee, and a $5 user fee per person, per night. Changes will result in an additional $15 fee. There are no refunds after your permit has been printed off. After you print the permit, no changes can be made. Permits can be printed as early as 14 days prior to your trip. You can print your permit the day of your trip as well, if you do not print your permit by 4:30 the start of your trip, you will be considered a "no show" and your sites will be given up.

Directions

From the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore/Hiawatha National Forest Visitor Center in Munising head east on County Road H-58 for 14 miles and then turn north on Chapel Road. The trailhead parking lot is at the end of Chapel Road, reached in 6 miles from H-58.

Transportation from Munising Falls to the Chapel Road trailhead is available through Pictured Rocks Shuttle Service and Alger County Transit-ALTRAN (906-387-4845). Shuttle service should be reserved during the peak months of July and August.

Information

The best source of information while planning a trip is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore website or the Interagency Visitor Center (906-387-3700) in Munising.

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