Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

White Beaches Vie With Centuries-Old Rock Cliffs


THE 200-foot-high Pictured Rocks stand in stark contrast to the miles of white sand beaches passed driving the 40 miles east from Marquette to Munising on state road M28.The Pictured Rocks National Shoreline national park extends for 47 miles east from Munising along Lake Superior to Grand Marais and includes a 13,500 acre island. You can view these multicolored cliffs that rise up to 200 feet out of the lake from hiking trails on top, or take a cruise boat from Munising and view the layers of colored rock from below. The sandstone cliffs are millions of years old. The different concentrations of feldspar, copper, manganese, calcium, and iron cause rainbow-like colors. There are trails for hiking along the lake shore, backpacking, and camping. You can take a ferry to Grand Island for backpacking and primitive camping. On shorter hikes you can find observation points, beaches, rivers, natural waterfalls as well as spectacular wildflowers, forests, and wildlife. "It's so pretty, and there's not many people here. We do this trip every year - fish brook trout in [novelist Ernest] Hemingway's stomping grounds - the Fox and the Two-Hearted rivers," says Dave McCann, a 22-year-old University of Michigan graduate school student. Mr. McCann and his pal Mike Beckert, a senior at Michigan Technological University, were among tourists visiting the Munising Falls, one of the side hikes at the park. The two-mile hike is uphill on hard-packed earth trails, with benches for resting along the way. The scent from the surrounding tall cedars is so intense, it smells as though you're inside a cedar chest. Wildflowers are scattered alongside the path - Queen Anne's Lace, blue and purple Chicory, Clover, blue and purple Thistle, Black-eyed Susans, Goldenrod, Thimbleberries, and yellow Cowslips. Wild watercress borders the stream as well as the entire south wall of the waterfall. The water drops about 50 feet from the top of the cliff to the bottom of the stream. There's a ledge behind where you can walk and look through the falls; it's like looking through a heavy rain to sunlit forest and stream beyond. ROY SATHER, from Elmhurst, Ill., says he and his wife have come here every summer for 27 years. "There are the most breathtaking sunsets here I've ever seen - the clouds are lit up by the sun and it causes a brilliant variation in colors," says Mr. Sather. "Tourism is the second largest industry in this county," says Ray Berg, director of the Munising Chamber of Commerce. "We don't have any empty store fronts now, motels are virtually full, restaurants are filled and doing good business, gift shops are doing well, and all the parks are full, so the grocery stores are doing a good business, too."

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.