Backpacking Michigan's
National Lakeshores
Pictured Rocks Beach on North Manitou Island

Michigan's nearly 3,000 miles of shoreline include two national lakeshores which attract thousands of tourists, boaters, beachcombers and backpackers every year.

Pictured Rocks, along the Upper Peninsula's Lake Superior shore, is a 43-mile-long geological marvel ranging from tall sand dunes to massive colorful sandstone cliffs. Backcountry and regular camping abound, and many campers travel along the lakeshore in kayaks.

Sleeping Bear Dunes includes 35 miles of shore in the northwest lower peninsula and two islands in Lake Michigan. Some camping and hiking are available in the mainland areas of the lakeshore, but North and South Manitou islands are the destinations of backpackers.

While Pictured Rocks edges the islands for pure scenery, the islands offer more solitude and room to roam, especially the larger and less-visited North Manitou. Dunes tower over the islands' windblown western shores while smooth, sandy beaches line the leeward eastern shores. Wildlife-viewing opportunities include the occasional glimpse of a bald eagle or two and a large whitetail deer herd on North Manitou. The islands were settled during the late 1800s, and remnants of those settlers and their descendants dot both islands.

This site is intended to offer a detailed look at backpacking Michigan's national lakeshores, and to point prospective visitors to other resources for planning a trip.

Photos © Mark Whitney (top) and Steve Thorpe

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