10 Nov
Posted in: travel
By    Comments Off on Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

sandstone arches at Pictured Rocks

All outdoor enthusiasts or lovers of beautiful landscapes should place Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan on a must-see list of places to visit. The foliage-covered sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks rise above the aquamarine water of Lake Superior lending itself to picturesque views around every bend. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape.

tree at Chapel Hill Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

While the view was truly mesmerizing, our nemesis on the trip, stable flies, were in full-force. Stable flies are quite possibly the worst insect we’ve encountered in our many adventures. They are relentless, annoying and deplorable. Stable flies are similar to house flies but bite like they’re harboring small fangs. They will not leave you alone unless you’re in the water and land in swarms on bare legs as soon as you’re near the sandy shoreline of Lake Superior.

woman's legs being bitten by stable flies

I’ve heard we were unlucky enough to visit Lake Superior during peak stable fly season. We were attacked by the flies at several stops around Lake Superior, but Pictured Rocks was the worst. Signs warned visitors there was nothing you could do to stop the pesky flies. Bug spray doesn’t work. Only covering your skin can thwart the flies. My legs were covered in bloody bites by the end of the day. We would violently swat flies away and try to enjoy the sand of Chapel Beach, but didn’t last very long before we gave up on the beach in favor of enjoying Pictured Rocks from the cliffs.

children playing at Chapel Beach Pictured Rocks

family hiking through a forest at Pictured Rocks

The cliff faces are sculpted by the incredible power of water. There are arches and alcoves along the shoreline. Water seeping through cracks in the rock leaves colorful streaks on the faces of the cliffs giving the name Pictured Rocks. The common theme of our summer vacation was water and vegetation. Pictured Rocks had towering trees and smelled of rotting leaves and dirt, but not in a bad way. It was the rich, primal smell of outdoors.

tiny frog sitting in a child's palm

We hiked through a section of trail with hundreds of jumping frogs the size of a fingernail camouflaged in the mud and undergrowth. We had to prod the kids to get through frog land. They wanted to catch every frog they spotted, which was drastically slowing any progress on our return hike from Chapel Beach.

Miners Castle overlook at Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks was busier than Voyageurs National Park and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore combined. A steady flow of people were on the trail we hiked, and the Miners Castle information center and overlook was crowded. While the crowds at Miners Castle were large, it’s worth fighting them for a view at the overlook. It’s one of the most iconic at Pictured Rocks.

children playing under a waterfall in Michigan

The question we always ask park rangers is where they like to hike or their favorite overlook. At Pictured Rocks, a ranger pointed us to land at a nearby National Forest that had two waterfalls and the promise of fewer people. It was as advertised. There were two other families on the trail connecting two waterfalls. There wasn’t much water flowing in the waterfalls in July, but the kids enjoyed walking behind one of the falls and cooling off in the late afternoon heat.

Next up on our summer 2016 road trip: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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