Great Lakes Road Trip Day 19: hiking the Chapel-Mosquito trail

We’d always planned to do some hiking while we were up here in the Upper Peninsula, and we chose the Chapel-Mosquito Trail.

Hike route

Getting there was an ordeal: first, a drive of about 30 miles, then 5 miles down a dirt-track road which really requires an off-road vehicle (not our Nissan Versa, taxed to its extreme by the potholes and stones as everyone else’s 4x4s whizzed on by). Finally, we reached our starting point. But was it worth while? You be the judge…

It took us five hours in all to cover about 10 miles of the trail. Of course, we had to stop for some photo-opportunities, and occasionally to pick our jaws up off the floor. The dunnies are made for outdoorsy types. Like flies and sloths. But that aside, it’s a walk in the park. Hiawatha National Park, to be precise.


First, there’s a pleasant stroll through densely wooded forest, skirting the Chapel Lake and ending at the Chapel Falls viewpoints. This is relatively easy-going, and for anyone pressed for time, about a 3m round trip, rewarded with these views:

But we ploughed on as the terrain got more rugged, weaving up and down with many tree roots and fallen trunks crossing the path. Nothing treacherous or arduous, but a good workout, making us feel that we’d earned our lunch when we stopped at Chapel Beach.

What can we say? Look at the turquoise water. No crowds, not an ice-cream vendor in sight. And at one corner of the cove, the extraordinary Chapel Rock – given its name in 1840 by the earliest Westerners to survey the southern landscape of Lake Superior.


From here, the hike hugs the coastline, giving ample views of what are known as the Pictured Rocks, sheer sandstone formations that have been layered with different colours as the height of water has changed over time. It reminded us of some of the rock formations in Death Valley, particularly the Artists Palette.



After about four miles, the hike crosses over the Mosquito River and heads inland once again, this time to the Mosquito Falls, by now around 9 miles into our trek, and – we were relieved to know – only another mile or so back to the parking lot.

Wowzers! This was the best day. Loved it – and when the blisters have gone down, we’ll definitely be back for more.