Hike Superior's Pictured Rocks Shore to Au Sable Lighthouse

Michigan N. County Trail (Miner's Castle)

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:


  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    26 Miles

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area

Take in scenic views of the painted cliffs overlooking Lake Superior. This 26-mile hike can be shortened to 4 miles from the Twelvemile Beach Parking Lot. This adventure is perfect if split into two days, and mixed with Kayaking from Miner's Beach.

This trip works best with two cars where the first is dropped off at the Twelvemile Beach Parking Lot), and carpooled over to the Miner's Castle Parking Lot. Both lots can be easily found in the Pictured Rocks National Seashore Map, or on Google Maps.

Start your day at Miner's Castle by checking out both the Upper Overlook and Lower Overlooks. In the morning around Golden Hour, the cliffs across the bay look spectacular. Head East on the Lakeshore - North County Trail through from the parking lot. The trail is wide, marked, and well maintained. In the first few miles, you will cover some beautiful woodland scenery in the rocks before spilling out onto Miner's Creek and the beach. You can either walk the beach here or stick to the trail, they head the same direction and merge at the east end.

The best section of painted rocks is next to the trail here, although they are best viewed from the water. The further you hike, the more opportunities for outcroppings and overlooks. Be careful here!

6 miles in, you will be going through the most rugged and picturesque. The trail dumps out onto Chapel Beach, where you can look back and see the cliffs, and check out the very surreal looking Chapel Rock. Spend the next two hours walking until you get to Beaver Creek, and Beaver Creek Beach. This is an excellent place to break for lunch. a half mile up Beaver Creek is Beaver Lake, an excellent spot for quiet fishing.

If you're really adventurous, you can try swimming. Keep in mind, Lake Superior has only been warming up to 45ºF in late August, as ice doesn't disappear until July. Bring a towel and extra clothing if you plan on trying it. I did, and it was refreshing!

After lunch, continue heading up the long, flat trail. The elevation is closer to the lake, and there are more birch trees to walk through. This area is not walked a lot by hikers and offers good chances to see wildlife and birds as long as you keep the noise down. The waves can be heard crashing on the shore, and help mask your sounds. After about 2.5 hours from Beaver Creek, you will be at Twelvemile Campground. There are some rapids here, facilities, and water.

A 2 miles hike will take you to Au Sable Lighthouse, which sits on a scenic point in Lake Superior. Watch a sunset amongst the wild blueberries. Further up you can see the sandy cliffs that were used to dump logs into the lake. The truly adventurous can make this last few mile loop to get incredible views of the lighthouse.

When you're done, head back to Twelvemile Parking Lot, and go back to collect your other vehicle. You might as well head back into Munising to Sydney's Restaurant. You'll be at an Australian bar in the Yooper. Wash that hike down with an excellent Keweenaw Brewing Co. beer, you've walked a marathon, and have earned it!

Pack List

  • Ultralight Pack
  • Pacemaker Hiking Poles
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Water
  • Bug Spray (the mosquitos are NASTY)
  • Extra Layer to keep warm when you rest
  • A great lunch
  • Fishing Gear
  • Camera
  • Keweenaw Brewing Co. Beer (I prefer the Widow Maker)
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Overall rating: 

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This review gives some great advice on the trip. I hiked the trail in the opposite direction but either direction gives you ample opportunity to take in the views of Lake Superior and enjoy the solitude. Hit the trail in the spring or fall to avoid the bugs that are prevalent in the middle of the summer.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

This is a beautiful hike with lots of hidden gems along the forested parts of the trail. It's not as exciting as many excursions, but the easy pace and chance to focus closer on small things is a nice change of pace. I agree that Au Sable Light Station is a beautiful point for a sunset, but we particularly enjoyed the view from Miners Beach on a clear night--during the summer the sun sets behind Grand Island and outlines Miners Castle Point, which rises above the beach to the west. It's a gorgeous spot for some uninterrupted night time photography, and most visitors seem to clear off the beach as soon as the sun sets so you can enjoy the scenery in solitude.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Michael WigleExplorer

Exploring this incredible world with Film / Photography / Stories

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