From the stunning Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks’ vast Lake Superior views, a journey along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will take you on an unforgettable adventure.
Get ready to explore one of the most beautiful regions in the country and discover what makes it so unique. From breathtaking waterfalls, snowshoeing adventures, and kayaking excursions, to majestic sandstone cliffs, historic lighthouses, and legendary beach-side trails, this trip is sure to be an unforgettable experience!
Overview of the Trip
So, you’ve decided to take the trip from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks! You’re in for a treat!
The journey will take you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Upper Peninsula. From cascading waterfalls to snowshoeing trails, kayaking excursions, and hiking trails, there is so much outdoor space to explore.
Along the way, you can investigate historic lighthouses, magnificent sandstone cliffs, and some of the most iconic beach-side trails in the state.
The distance between the two parks varies depending on your destination within Pictured Rocks. Grand Marais is about 60 miles from Tahquamenon Falls and Munising at the other end of the lakeshore is about 85 miles away.
You won’t be spending more than an hour and a half driving on a direct route, no matter where you plan to go.
Whether you’re planning a longer road trip around the Upper Peninsula or just checking out these two spots, the journey from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks is sure to be an unforgettable adventure!
Make sure to bring your camera – you won’t want to miss out on capturing all these amazing sights! It will be an unforgettable experience.
What to Expect Along the Way
As you make your way from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks, expect a journey of beauty and discovery. The trip will take you through some rural landscapes with ample opportunities for outdoor activities.
Keep your eye out for some of the 300+ waterfalls that are scattered across the UP. You’ll see some of the most well-known in both Tahquamenon and Pictured Rocks, but there are many more to explore between the two parks.
Along the way, you can also learn more about Michigan’s history while exploring some of its oldest and most iconic landmarks. With so much to see and do, this is definitely an experience that you won’t want to miss out on!
Begin: Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a natural wonder that should be on everyone’s bucket list! Home to the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi, this park offers amazing views and plenty of outdoor activities.
The Upper Tahquamenon Falls are accessible on a paved path that provides stunning views from the top of its 50-foot drop. You’ll have to navigate lots of stairs to get down to the lowest viewpoints next to the falls.
Hike around the area to explore all its beauty or follow one of the trails that run along the river. You can use the trail to hike all the way to the Lower Tahquamenon Fall to see all the natural beauty that this Upper Peninsula State Park has to offer.
After you’re done exploring the falls trail, and before you leave the park, stop at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Restaurant. There is plenty of outdoor seating, and you can refuel before you continue your adventure.
These waterfalls at Tahquamenon definitely attract lots of visitors, so don’t expect to be the only visitors on summer weekends. There are some hiking trails and spaces to explore away from the falls, so plan to check these out during busier times of the day.
Visit Both Upper and Lower Falls
The Upper Falls are the larger of the two and can be seen from a stunning overlook at the top of their 50-foot drop.
The Lower Falls are just as impressive but in a different way. They’re smaller than the Upper Falls, but cover a series of 5 drops instead of just one.
There are parking lots at the trailheads for each, even though the two waterfalls are separated by a few miles. You won’t have to hike as far by driving between the two, and you can save yourself some time if you’re looking to cram more sights into a short amount of time.
Explore Other Hiking Trails
If you have some extra time, check out some of the other hiking trails. Miles of trails range from easy to difficult.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or an all-day adventure, Tahquamenon Falls has a trail that won’t disappoint.
Spend the Night at One of Many Camp Sites
Are you looking for the perfect spot to pitch a tent? With plenty of camping sites scattered throughout the park, you can sleep not far away from the cascading waterfalls. Modern campsites with electric hookups are conveniently located for those looking for these amenities.
For a little more seclusion, head over to the Rivermouth where you’ll find both modern and rustic sites tucked away within walking distance of Whitefish Bay.
If all the sites at these two locations are booked in advance, there is often availability at primitive sites in the nearby state and national forests.
Route 1: to Grand Marais along Lake Superior
Driving this route covers about 60 miles and should take you about 1 hour and 20 minutes. These stops are not far from the route, so stop at as many or as few as you’d like!
Newberry State Forest Area
The sprawling Newberry State Forest Area is the perfect place to begin your journey along from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks. It’s a natural wonderland, full of wildflowers, birds, and breathtaking forests.
You can explore miles of trails, take advantage of rustic camp spots, spend time fishing in the waterways, or just enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
If you’re an avid photographer or just want to take in the stunning scenery, the small lakes are especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves change colors.
No matter what activities you decide to do in Newberry State Forest Area- there’s plenty of space to explore! Its diverse terrain provides endless opportunities for exploration and adventure! Whether you plan a quick stop to check out a couple of trails or spend the night, you’ll enjoy this more secluded area.
Muskallonge Lake State Park
Muskallonge Lake State Park is the perfect nature spot for locals to explore and enjoy Michigan’s renowned natural beauty.
Here, the North Country Trail passes between and connects Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks, as it stretches from New York to North Dakota, linked by short trails that connect the park’s many campsites.
Whether you’re looking to commune with nature or have thrilling outdoor adventures, Muskallonge Lake State Park has great activities – in summer, you can fish, canoe, kayak, and camp; in winter, you can cross-country ski and hop on a snowmobile!
Lake Superior Overlook
Continuing along the Lake Superior shoreline from Muskallonge Lake State Park, take a detour along Grand Marais Truck Trail Road. Along a curve, you’ll come across a small pull-off where you’ll find easy access to Lake Superior with an overlook and a beautiful rocky beach.
You could spend 10 minutes here taking in the views of the lake or a few hours enjoying the beach.
This is a great spot no matter what amount of time you have to spare while traveling from Tahquamenon Falls State Park to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Superior Pines Disc Golf Course
The Superior Pines Disc Golf Course is a gem located on the south shore of Lake Superior between Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks, on the way to Grand Marais. It’s the only course for miles, and the holes feature various terrains for an added challenge, even though there isn’t a lot of distance to the course.
Disc golfers of all levels can enjoy this course, so if you’re looking for a challenging yet enjoyable way to break up your drive from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, then definitely check out Superior Pines Disc Golf Course!
Bring your own discs. If you don’t have a set, the Crown Me Starter Set of discs is a great affordable option that comes with a storage bag that you can both keep in your car and carry with you along the course.
Pickle Barrel Museum
We’ve finally made it to Grand Marais! The Pickle Barrel Museum is a quirky stop for travelers who are making the trek from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks. It’s a unique museum restored to its original condition in the 1920s after being moved from the shores of Sable Lake.
The museum has been an information center for the town and an ice cream shop in the past. Now, you’ll have to stop at the Sherpa Shack in town instead if you’re looking for a frozen treat.
While it can be a quick stop, the quirky vintage charm of the Pickle Barrel Museum makes it worth a visit.
Agatelady Rock Shop
Replacing the Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum beginning summer of 2023, the Agatelady Rock Shop is an incredible destination located just a short drive from the east side of Pictured Rocks.
Inside, visitors can explore some rock and mineral displays operated by the local resident-owner who loves to share her passion for agates with others.
Not only can you explore a variety of rocks and minerals, but classes and lectures are also hosted at the site.
You’ll be able to purchase rocks and minerals to take home as a souvenir as well so that you can start your own unique collection!
Light Keeper’s House Museum
The last of the stops along a scenic drive from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is the Light Keeper’s House Museum. Situated on the shore of Lake Superior, the museum features a spectacular exhibit of over 100 years of history of the keepers of the Grand Marais Range Lights.
The intriguing exhibits will take you back in time, allowing you to explore and appreciate the iconic height, function, and structure of this historic lighthouse.
Within the museum, visitors can tour the interior of the keeper’s house, including a room decorated with actual buoys used by Great Lakes shipping vessels. Visitors can also visit the original keeper’s quarters with displays that include stained glass lamps, replicas of uniforms worn by light keepers, and tools they used while working at Crisp Point Lighthouse.
The Museum is beautifully situated overlooking Lake Superior and offers breathtaking views to match its enlightening exhibits. While it’s a quick stop, you should make a point to visit before settling into Grand Marais.
Route 2: to Munising via M-123 and M-28
This route to Munising is about 80 miles long. The estimated time for driving this route is also about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Newberry State Forest Area
An exploration awaits at the Newberry State Forest Area, a mere 20 minutes from Tahquamenon Falls. Marvel at breathtaking wildflower meadows, vibrant birds in flight, and captivating forests – an enchanting adventure to Pictured Rocks.
Photographers and sightseers alike can appreciate the beauty of small lakes in autumn when the leaves change colors.
Hiking trails and rustic camping spots are available, as well as opportunities to fish in the waterways or simply appreciate nature.
Newberry State Forest Area offers a range of activities and plenty of space for exploration. The varied landscape provides countless possibilities for exploration and adventure. If you have time, this area also has a secluded experience with some trails for exploration.
Tahquamenon Falls Logging Museum
Next along the way from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks, the Tahquamenon Falls Logging Museum is a must-visit. It’s just a few minutes from Newberry State Forest.
Dedicated to the history of lumberjacks, the museum boasts a range of interesting exhibits and antique equipment used by early lumberjacks.
It also features an informative nature trail that winds its way along the banks of the Tahquamenon River and through parts of the Tahquamenon Forest.
As you wander along, keep your eyes peeled for ducks, blue herons, and other birds and wildlife. Whether it’s history or nature that you seek, this unique museum has something to offer everyone!
This would be a great spot to explore for a couple of hours if you need to stretch your legs.
Hamilton Lake Natural Area
Only a few miles further on your journey, the Hamilton Lake Natural Area provides another pitstop. The Hamilton Lake Natural Area is a one-of-a-kind outdoor space in the Upper Peninsula.
It’s here that you can explore scenic trails, kayak, fish in the lake, or just enjoy the serene atmosphere as you travel from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
It’s an ideal spot for a picnic lunch or a day hike. The trailhead is easy to access and provides immediate immersive experiences with forested sections along the small lake. This is perfect for a quick stop traveling between the two main parks.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge
30-45 minutes down the road, the Seney National Wildlife Refuge is a must-see while traveling from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks.
Located in the middle of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the refuge covers 95,212 acres and is a great place for wildlife viewing. A wide variety of animals call this refuge home, including beavers, otters, moose, timber wolves, and more. The refuge also boasts over 200 species of birds, including bald eagles, that are seen regularly throughout the year.
Hiking in these woods gives photographers an excellent opportunity to capture some amazing wildlife shots! Additionally, there are several points along the St. Mary’s River where you can fish or launch canoe trips or other small craft boating ventures.
The Seney National Wildlife Refuge also features exhibits on natural history and ranger-led programs to help point out some of its special features such as the lush marshlands represented within its borders.
Wagner Falls Scenic Site
Another 40 minutes along the journey from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, we’re almost to Munising!
Just outside of town, The Wagner Falls scenic site is truly a sight to behold! Sitting surrounded by pine and hemlock trees, this waterfall cascades over dolomite, which gives it an incredible resistance to erosion and maintains the consistent look of the waterfall.
This magnificent cascade is easily accessible by parking your car in the small parking area provided and walking along a half-mile trail to the observation deck which overlooks the falls.
You’ll only have to navigate about 8 stairs to reach the viewing platform, which is much less than some of the other waterfalls we’ve already mentioned, including the Upper Falls at Tahquamenon.
If you would continue along Wagner Creek, it empties out into a shallow gorge containing the Anna River, before the flow finally empties into Lake Superior.
If you’re looking for a beautiful spot to visit and capture nature’s beauty, then Wagner Falls is definitely one you can’t miss!
Alger Falls is less than 0.5 miles from Wagner Falls, and it is viewable directly from M-28. Be careful because it is easy to drive right by!
The Alger Falls cascade over multiple tiers, ultimately about 15 feet high. It’s much more than just their size that makes these falls impressive; the drops and the water patterns between them are picturesque.
The water flow supplying these falls can vary significantly, even day to day, depending on rain, snow melt, and drought conditions. While it only takes a few minutes to stop and see this waterfall, it is most worth a stop after heavy rain.
Be careful with traffic along the road. The pull-off is small and the road can be very busy.
One more mile up the road, we’ve made it to the edge of the town of Munising. The last stop to explore is Horseshoe Falls, where in addition to the waterfall, a small gift shop and a hiking trail are all available for your exploration.
This waterfall has also earned the nickname the “enchanted waterfall!”
The Horseshoe Falls does require a fee to visit which can be a little steep at $10 per adult and $7 for kids 3-12. However, it’s accessible from the parking area via a short boardwalk. The two tiers of the falls drop about 30 feet and provide an impressive sight to behold! There are plenty of spots to sit and take in the beauty and peacefulness of this area.
Other experiences at the park around Horseshoe Falls include a spot to feed trout and ducks and a scavenger hunt involving gnomes. The whole family will have fun enjoying this space.
End: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Marvel at the majestic beauty of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! Get ready to be mesmerized by 40 miles of Lake Superior’s rugged coast, with high cliffs, sandstone formations, glittering beaches, and majestic waterfalls as you’ve never seen before!
Visitors can explore the area’s many hiking trails or take a boat tour to view the stunning sandstone cliffs up close.
Those looking for an adventure in Pictured Rocks will find plenty of kayaking and canoeing opportunities along with stunning vistas at sites like Miners Castle, Chapel Rock, and Grand Portal Point.
You’ll find both a peaceful retreat and adrenaline-filled adventure at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which offers a great place to end a trip exploring the UP outdoors.
Munising Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the city of Munising, Michigan. The falls are part of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This cascading waterfall is quite easily accessible via a short, paved walking trail. It’s an ideal waterfall for those who want to take in the sights without having to exert too much effort or those who need more accessibility.
The falls are well-known for their powerful flow and unique geological formation. At around 50 feet high, Munising Falls can be quite a sight to behold!
If you’re looking to see all of the waterfalls in Pictured Rocks, Munising Falls is a great place to start from the town of Munising.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the world and Sable Falls is definitely one of them. This gorgeous waterfall is located on the east side of Pictured Rocks and is a little further away from the center of it all.
Standing around 75 feet tall, this impressive waterfall is worth a stop! Visiting Sable Falls can be done year-round, though the warmer months offer the best conditions navigating the many steps down to the viewing platforms.
No matter when you visit Sable Falls, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. It’s not a long hike from the parking area, but you’ll get your heart pumping a little harder navigating the stairs.
Chapel Rock Trail: Exploring an Iconic Pictured Rocks Landmark
The Chapel Rock Trail is an iconic hike, often touted as the best hike in Michigan. The loop has some options along the route to lengthen the hike, but you’ll typically cover at least six miles along the way.
The loop takes you along the Lake Superior shoreline and up to the famous Chapel Rock formation. This picturesque trail offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding cliffs, making it a must-see for many travelers visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as songbirds and maybe even some white-tailed deer. Pay attention to black bear warnings posted at the trailheads during certain times of the year. You don’t want to get caught between a mama bear and her cubs.
As if that weren’t enough, Chapel Rock Trail navigates by multiple waterfalls and provides access to a stunning Lake Superior beach where you can take a break from your hike or enjoy a picnic lunch in one of Michigan’s most beautiful settings.
Swimming at Mosquito Beach or Miners Beach
Swimming at Mosquito Beach or Miners Beach is a must-do experience when you’re in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during later summer. Situated along the shoreline of Lake Superior, these two beaches, along with other smaller beaches in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, offer stunning views and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming.
Mosquito Beach is smaller and unique with sandstone rock formations. Miners Beach, on the other hand, is known for its sandy shore surrounded by rocky cliffs.
While the waters of Lake Superior can be quite cold, since it’s such a large and deep lake, the water can really help soothe sore, tired feet that have hiked many miles.
FAQs: Traveling from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks
Are you planning to visit these two fantastic Upper Peninsula parks? Here are a few questions that might help while you plan.
Can you do Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls in one day?
Sure, you could make it to both Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Tahquamenon Falls State Park in one day. However, we wouldn’t recommend it! You’d really be doing both parks a disservice.
We’d recommend at least 1 full day exploring Tahquamenon Falls and at least 2-3 days to get the most out of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
How much time is needed at Pictured Rocks?
When it comes to Pictured Rocks, you should plan on spending at least 2-3 days. This will give you plenty of time to explore and take in the stunning scenery from different angles!
You can start by hiking the trails around the park. There are numerous, easy-to-follow routes ranging from less than a mile to over 10 miles long. Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of Lake Superior, delightful waterfalls, hidden coves with beach access, and sometimes even a glimpse of shipwrecks just beneath the water’s surface!
We’d recommend getting out on the water and taking a Pictured Rocks Cruise or a guided kayak tour of Pictured Rocks, too.
How much time is needed at Tahquamenon Falls?
If you’re a hiker, we’d recommend at least one full day at Tahquamenon Falls to hike between Lower and Upper Falls, as well as explore other areas of the park.
Allow just a few hours to see both the waterfall areas if you’d rather just drive between the two.
Seeing this natural beauty from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks up close is an experience of a lifetime. The panoramic views of the shoreline and waterfalls will leave you breathless. Not to mention the multitude of activities available like camping, kayaking, and fishing in between these two stunning outdoor areas.
With so much stunning scenery and outdoor fun separated by less than two hours, it’s no wonder why combining and traveling from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks is a popular trip itinerary.
So whether you’re ready to take in the stunning views or camp under the stars, plan an outdoor adventure from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks!