I spend a lot of my time hiking in Wisconsin but sometimes I leave it and hike elsewhere. (Not all that often, though.) It’s fast becoming a tradition in my newly formed family (est. 2019) to take a week long trip each summer for a week of hiking and camping mixed with leisure and indoor sleeping. This year the trip was to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Munising in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP).
The Pictured Rocks is one of only three national lakeshores in the US. One is in Wisconsin, and two are in Michigan. The Pictured Rocks are named for their, well, pictured rocks. These sandstone formations stretch for 15 miles on Lake Superior and range from 50 to 200 feet high. (Enjoy the teaser photo below.) Aside from the lakeshore, the rest of the park offers numerous waterfalls, sand dunes, and other scenic natural formations.
In this post, I’m focusing on one of the hikes we did, the Mosquito Falls Trail.
This hike began in the park’s Chapel Basin area, which contains the trailhead for several hikes, including two with waterfalls and one longer loop that is the only hike allowing the cliffs to be seen by land. The park’s website says this, but I will confirm it, this area fills up fast. Get there early so you aren’t forced to wait for someone to leave or park illegally (as many were opting to do.)
Choosing not to complete the longer 10 mile loop for a variety of reasons, we decided to see both falls in this area. We began with Mosquito Falls.
Length: 2.2 miles round trip (there and back)
Description: This sometimes rugged trail brings hikers from the Chapel Basin parking area to the Mosquito Falls overlook
The trail itself changes a lot on the short journey to the falls. At times it is gravel, dirt, sand, mud, tree roots, or manmade. Here you can see some sandy steps that lead to a wooden path and bridge.
A section of the trail was very muddy, but that is to be expected when you’re hiking through an area with so many creeks and waterfalls.
After beginning relatively flat with a few ups and downs, the trail starts to rise and fall more dramatically. One section had a steep decline before immediately switching to a steep incline. This trail is a bit of a leg workout!
This section of the trail was a staircase of tree roots.
After a mile of hiking, you arrive at Mosquito Falls. This small waterfall flows over three rock shelves, the tallest being 8 feet.
It’s hard to get a great view from the trail, but this area seems great for exploring.
I’m going to do something I rarely do on this blog; borrow a photo from somewhere else. The weather was unusual during our hike, upper 80’s and humid away from the lakeshore. I’m telling you this because I don’t do well in heat, and I do very poorly exercising in heat and humidity. That’s all to say that upon arriving at the waterfall, I was ready to be done. I didn’t climb down to take the photos I should have. So because of that, I’m borrowing this photo from Michigan Tourism to show you a better view of the falls.
After seeing the falls, hikers either turn around and backtrack to the parking area or continue on their 10 mile journey.
If you have to skip a waterfall, skip this one. The waterfall is nice (it’s always cool to see a waterfall) but it’s not the most scenic or impressive in the park or the area. It’s like being at the Grand Canyon and having “impressive view overload.” Even the worst scenic overlook at the Grand Canyon would be, by itself, stunning any other time but because you’re surrounded by breath taking views, the slightly less scenic ones become trash. That’s what this felt like and I apologize to mosquito falls. In my opinion, the trail on the way to the falls was neater than the destination.