Thursday, July 2, 2020

Miner's Beach (Pictured Rocks NL)

Miner's Castle
Trailhead Elevation: 771 ft.
Beach Elevation: 606 ft.
Distance: 3.06 mi. (my Forerunner 235)
Elevation Gain: 433 ft. (my Forerunner 235)
Start Time: 12:56pm
End Time: 2:35pm

Trip Report:
The Miner's Castle area is a great place to take in some of the best that Pictured Rocks has to offer when you're stuck on land. For most, taking the Pictured Rocks boat cruises to see the amazing cliffs up close from the water will really be the most jaw-dropping way to go. Our family did this cruise back in 2016 on a trip to Michigan's UP and loved it. This year on a return trip we decided to try something different and check things out from the land. It didn't disappoint.
At the lower overlook with the Miner's Castle 
to the right of center

We started this day at Sand Point and briefly explored the beautiful beach areas. We also took in the relatively short Marsh Trail that loops on boardwalks just off of the North Country Trail. It was all easy enjoyment to begin the day.

The Miner's Cliffs area was our next stop. We drove to the Overlooks parking and started off with a picnic at one of the open picnic tables. After lunch we geared up for a hike down to the beach area which looked to be roughly a one-mile hike by our estimates on the map. We started off by hitting the upper overlook which is right there at the buildings and facilities and the parking lot. We continued on down the hill and a steep section of paved trail to get down to the lower overlook. This took a bit more effort to descend to but well worth it.

At the lower overlook, eyeing the
Lake Superior coast to the east

From the lower overlook it was a hike back up the hill to where we followed signage to gain the North Country Trail. I knew from the maps that this was the trail to follow to get down to the beach area. It was a flat meandering path through the woods at first. Most of this part of the NCT was very rooted and rocky. For the less experienced hiker it was one to truly watch your footing. In the middle of this hike was a steep section where pretty much all of the elevation loss took place.

At the bottom of the hill the NCT then follows the Miners River. We were pleased to find that the mosquitos weren't too overwhelming. They were certainly around but if you kept moving you could, for the most part, avoid them.

Miner's River with the dark mineral color
typical of many U.P. rivers

My baby daughter Anya joined us on this family hike and I carried her most of the way. At a few spots she wanted down and walked. I held her hands to keep her from face-planting into the rooty trail.

Anya and me on the trail

As the trail nears the beach it crosses a nice wooden bridge and then quickly hits a junction. There were basic signs pointing that the NCT would go to the right. It seemed implied the beach was to the left. We took that leftward shortcut to the beach and it followed the river all the way out.

Beautiful single track

When we gained the beach I left the family there to enjoy the water and the sand. As had been planned, I turned around and made my way back up the hill to get our car at the upper parking lot. This made for a great family hike and a nice way to shuttle everyone from Point A to Point B without overwhelming the younger hikers.

On Miner's Beach to the west

On Miner's Beach to the east


I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).  

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