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.

Great Lakes Road Trip Day 18: canoeing the Au Train River

The Au Train river winds its way lazily from Lake Au Train to Lake Superior. Although the distance as the crow flies is only a couple of miles, the river meanders such a lot that a trip by canoe takes well over four hours, negotiating the shallowest of waters, hairpin turns, and – literally – thousands of logs and fallen tree trunks blocking the route.


But it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

And to our delight, along with the stunning views of the riverbank, we see all manner of birds and animals – including freshwater terrapins, water voles, and the ubiquitous ducks.




Great Lakes Road Trip Day 17: Three miles west of Christmas

Today we move into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) – sandwiched between three of the lakes. First, we cross the Mackinaw suspension bridge with Lake Michigan on our left and Lake Huron on our right. We’re saying goodbye to Huron, which we have enjoyed immensely – and we’ll be returning to Lake Michigan in a few days time. But our destination today is actually the smaller Lake Au Train, just a stone’s throw away from Lake Superior.

We drive for about three hours through Hiawatha National Forest, before coming to the vicinity of Au Train, and to our surprise…. look what we find:



It’s a reminder of what the winter months can be like out here – along with the signs for snowmobile speed limits and ski runs. However, it’s also a bit spooky for Dominic who has just finished writing this year’s LPAC Christmas show, Rapunzel. It’s like Christmas is chasing us…. but we’re keen to get to our base for the next few days, from which we hope to enjoy the outdoor life of the UP in the summer.

Well, we arrive: and Karen gets straight out onto the lake.

This is idyllic. Look at the view from our cabin’s sofa. We’re going to be happy here!