Backpack from Chapel Basin to Beaver Creek

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This overnight trip is an extension of the famous Chapel Loop hike to include Spray Falls, and multiple hidden coves and beaches. 

This two day (easily extended if you want more time to explore) hike offers some of the best views in all 40 miles of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The days are split up into a 8.8 mile day and a 12.6 mile day and can be done in either direction but since I did the 8.8 mile day first I will explain the hike that way. 

Day 1 

The hike begins at the Chapel Basin Parking Lot, which is located at the end of a gravel road and the trailhead has pit toilets. Once you are ready to begin the hike, take the trail that heads left. The hike starts at a level grade through a beautiful forest, sunbeams piercing the canopy and lighting the forest floor. After 0.3 miles you will reach a 3-way intersection, follow the sign that points right, towards Chapel Beach. For another 2.9 miles you will follow the trail through the woodland until the trees finally break and you find yourself on the shore of Chapel Beach. The turquoise hue may give the water of Lake Superior a tropical feeling but don't be fooled, the water is ice cold for most of the summer months.

From Chapel Beach continue east on the trail. A sign indicates the Beaver Creek backcountry site, the final destination for the evening, is 5.6 miles away. From Chapel Beach the trail meanders through the forest with plenty of breaks in the trees that allow you to appreciate the stunning shoreline. 

1.6 scenic miles from Chapel Beach the trail passes Spray Creek and Spray Falls, a stunning 70' cascade pouring off the sandstone cliffs into Lake Superior. A quarter mile east of the waterfall is an outcrop that gives an unobscured view of the waterfall.

From Spray Falls it is another 4 miles to Beaver Creek. The trail is easy to follow and relatively flat with gradual inclines and declines and a few steep sections that are made easier by stairs the park service installed. 

There are 6 sites at the Beaver Creek backcountry camp and a beautiful beach just down a hill from the campsites. There is also a community fire ring and bear locker that you can use.

Day 2

The first 5.6 miles of the trail you will be retracing your steps from the day previous until you reach Chapel Beach, where you will begin following the Chapel Loop in a counter clockwise direction. 

The 4.4 mile segment from Chapel Beach to Mosquito Beach is arguably the most beautiful segment of shoreline in Pictured Rocks. On the route you will pass Grand Portal Point, a large protrusion of sandstone with a large arch carved out from under it, and Indian Head, a cliff formation vaguely resembling the profile of a man's noggin. Again, there are many outcrops that give sweeping views of the shoreline in both directions on this segment. 

From Mosquito Beach turn left, heading into the forest, following a sign that points towards Mosquito Falls. From Mosquito Beach it is a 1.6 mile hike through the forest to Mosquito Falls, a small falls cascading over rocks and logs. From Mosquito Falls follow the trail another 0.6 miles until you reach the 3-way intersection you turned right at the day earlier. At this intersection turn right again, following the sign that points towards the trailhead. 0.3 more miles and you will find yourself at the trailhead and parking lot! 

Special notes: from mid-June through mid-August the flies can be bad, so it is best to plan a trip outside these dates if you can.

Pack List

  • Backcountry permit - you can pick them up in person at the Munising Falls Visitor Center for $10 or reserve at least 2 weeks ahead of time by filling out this form to Backcountry Office/Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, P .O. Box 40, Munising, MI 49862
  • Ten Essentials
  • Camera
  • Water and food
  • Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow
  • Bug spray
  • Trekking poles or a walking stick (there are many sticks that fellow hikers leave at the trailhead)
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How to Get There

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Added by Sonja Saxe

Seattle, WA based, adventuring everywhere. I'm on an endless journey to explore and photograph the national parks' scenic backcountry!

Activities:

Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

21.4 Miles

Features:

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall

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