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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

3 great trails for fall color at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

MUNISING, MICH. — Fall brings out fresh layers of beauty at Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

From colorful autumn tree-topped sandstone cliffs to waterfalls surrounded by fall hues, the park’s incredible scenery shines in new ways this time of year.

One of the best ways to soak up the spectacular seasonal color is along one of the park’s many trails, which come in a range of lengths, difficulty, accessibility and pet friendliness, so there are options for all.

Here are three top picks for trails that really pop with fall color while also boasting other wonders, like old shipwrecks, waterfalls and wetlands, as suggested by Zach Gostlin, the park’s chief of interpretation & education:

Au Sable Light Station: Length: 3 miles round trip. Leaving from the park’s Hurricane River Campground, walk on the old access road (part of the North Country National Scenic Trail) back in time to this isolated Lake Superior lighthouse, where families lived and worked from 1874 to 1958. Be sure to scan the shoreline to see the exposed remains of old shipwrecks. Guided tours of the lighthouse are available until September 30, but the lighthouse grounds remain open to explore through the fall. Leashed pets are allowed on the road and light station grounds. (Note that bicycles are not allowed on this road.) More on Au Sable Light Station here

Miners Falls Trail: Length: 1.2 miles round trip. This easy, fairly level trail takes you through the forest to a viewing platform of the Miners River, where the park’s most powerful waterfall cascades 50 feet over a sandstone cliff. Take another 64 steps down to a lower platform for a different perspective of this impressive waterfall, which is especially pretty this time of year. Leashed pets are allowed. More on Miners Falls here

Sand Point Marsh Trail: Length: 0.5 mile loop. Located across from Sand Point Beach, this interpretive boardwalk trail takes you through one of the park’s most beautiful wetlands. Along the way you’ll soak up the scenery of beach ridges, a cattail marsh, small ponds, and white cedar and black spruce swamp communities. Bring your binoculars: This is one of the park’s best spots for birding, and you may see other wildlife, too. The best times for wildlife activity are early or late in the day, so plan accordingly and keep your eyes and ears open. This trail is wheelchair-accessible. Pets are not allowed on this trail. More on Sand Point Marsh Trail here

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An entrance pass is required. For more, visit nps.gov/piro and facebook.com/PicturedRocksNL.


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