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TRAIL GUIDE by larry rice


Sheer Beauty Superior adventures in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


WHY GO: With more than 100 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a spectacular environment for backcountry hiking and camping along Lake Superior. Located between the communities of Munising (west) and Grand Marais (east) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the park hugs the south shore of Lake Superior for 42 miles. The 73,000-acre national lakeshore contains an impressive variety of striking features, including the “Pictured Rocks”—15 miles of richly colored sandstone cliffs that rise abruptly from the Big Lake.


WHERE TO START: Go big and tackle the 42.8-mile Lakeshore Trail or hike segments of it. Your best bet is to start from the west at Sand Point, location of the park headquarters, and head east. This 39.5-mile section skirts the lake for about four miles before coming upon the Pictured Rocks that gave the national lakeshore its name.


BACKPACKING DETAILS: Hiking along the Pictured Rocks, you’ll often


stand—but not too close—near the edge of 50- to 200-foot-high cliffs with dramatic vistas of the largest body of fresh water on the planet. Waves rolling in from the Big Lake crash and reverberate off the sheer walls, which have been sculpted by wind, ice, and pounding waves into caves, columns, arches, and great jutting headlands. To the Ojibway Native Americans who hunted these forests and fished these waters, the weather-worn cliffs were the dwelling places of the Gods of Thunder and Lightning. On a windy day, you’ll under- stand why. Thunderous claps and booms reverberate off the steadfast buttresses as swollen whitecaps slam against it. Take time to enjoy what


lies inland, too. There are lakes and streams, wispy waterfalls, and forests of hardwoods and conifers


46 S COUTING ¿ MAY•JUNE 2013


where you’ll find abundant wildlife— including the occasional black bear. The Pictured Rocks eventually trail off into the broad sand-and-pebble Twelvemile Beach, in the center of the park. After traversing the isolated beach, spend a night near the Grand Sable Dunes in the eastern section of the national lakeshore. Created by an exposed glacial deposit that extends five miles along the Superior shore- line, the shifting dunes rise 300 feet above the lake and cover an area of five square miles. End your journey at Grand Sable Visitor Center, on the outskirts of Grand Marais.


DAY-HIKING DETAILS: Be sure to dawdle a bit on Twelvemile Beach. It’s an ideal spot for a treasure hunt. As you prowl the beach, look for agates—lustrous,


EXPLORE MORE TRAILS using the adventure guides featured at scoutingmagazine.org/trailguide.


JOHN MCCORMICK/GETTY IMAGES


STEVE SANFORD


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