Today we take a short hike in the sandy woods with beautiful views of Stable Falls and Lake Superior. Stable Falls is located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI. This park is massive. The normal method of exploring this park is starting in a town called Munising. However, I’m not normal so I woke up in Grand Marais, MI. This is a peaceful town with two hotels, a gas station, and a couple of restaurants. We headed North on M-77 which is essentially main street through Grand Marais. There is a sign for the park that directs you left on H-58 (Carlson St.). Take this road for a short distance up a hill heading West. The area is well marked and look for Stable Falls Road on right hand side. Find a place to park and enjoy nature! More information and maps can be found at the National Forest Parks website: NPS Pictured Rocks
During the summer I’d imagine this half mile trail to be an easy hike. I hiked this trail the first week of May. Left over ice and snow from the harsh winters still remained scattered about the trail. Occasional jumps onto ice blocks was a bit exhilarating and well worth the risk. The above video was taken at the end of the falls but the trail will continue out towards the lake. The falls itself is fairly long and you wouldn’t want to end up in Stable Creek for sure. Mother nature provides conveniently located wooden stairs, railings and platforms for your safety. How those park engineers managed to build such platforms and stairs is beyond my comprehension! The soil is sandy with lose dirt, with the snow melt water this was perfect conditions to create landslides. Yet the trail was unaffected and in good condition aside from the ice and snow.
Sunrise at Lake Superior and Stable Creek
Combine stops for pictures, jumping over ice, pulling boots out of snow we made it to the shore in 25 minutes. Just in time to snag this beautiful picture of the sun rising over Lake Superior. It was a peaceful, brisk morning on the lake. Offering my first glance down the shore of Pictured Rocks, making for a memorable experience. The mouth of Stable Creek connecting the falls and lake blends with a beautiful beach, edged with huge sand dunes that tower the entire shore.
- 4/5 Amenities: Many amenities such as bathrooms, trail information and more exist in the parking lot area. I did not come here during tourist season, but it looks as it was built for a higher capacity of people and buses that come through during the summer. This trail lost one point because the trash cans were locked!
- 5/5 Trail: The trail was perfect. Designed and engineered to give the best vantage points of the falls and lake shore. It’s a straight to the point kind of trail. It isn’t meant for a long challenging hike, rather just a quick view of the falls and shore. If starting the park from Grand Marais, this is a great introduction to Pictured rocks.
- 0/5 Backpacking: This trail is not designed/intended for backpacking.
- 5/5 Maps: There is information at the trail head. This is an out and back trial well marked and easily visible. Map for this trail isn’t a necessity.
- 3/5 Wilderness: While this is in the north woods, civilization is always at the trail head. It is a short hike and you are never far from help and amenities. You can also easily walk to Grand Marais along the shore.
- 4/5 Enjoyment: I very much enjoyed this trail especially within my time frame. I visited before tourist season and we had the trial to ourselves. The falls were gorgeous and the shoreline was beautiful.
Let’s take an adventure to see a portion of Wisconsin’s beautiful forests. I started my day in Rhinelander, WI, which is the largest city in the area. Start your day early and take a beautiful drive up route 17 North out of Rhinelander. Take County road A to the East over to the city of Three Lakes. Drive past town and take a left onto route 32. Drive down 32 and keep your eyes open for Military road (Forest road 2178). Drive slow and watch out for wildlife running out. In about 4 miles you will need to pay close attention where Old Military road (Forest road 2207) branches from Military road, it’s easy to miss. Not to far North you will pass Sam Campbell road and just over the hill on the left is a small turn off to park at the trail head. More details can be found at the Forest Service website by clicking here.
Trail map near trail head.
This trail is well marked and they provide a very nice wooden map frequently along the trail. The screw indicates where you are located. Unless you are hiking with snow cover, hiking this trail without a map is fine. At various locations are signs that describe the forest and notes from Sam Campbell. They are worth the read. Allow 2 hours to take in this gorgeous forest trail. Some of the trees along this trail are matured, tall, and left for us to enjoy. I suggest starting off by taking a right on the first trail split (which is just a loop).
Tall red oak trees.
You will read, and discover the fauna and flora of the area. This trail does skirt along some swampy areas, although hiking after a slew of storms ended we did not encounter any issues with the trail being difficult or too muddy. Now I did this hike in early may however, any later I would imagine mosquitoes being an issue here. As with any North Woods trail, bring deep woods bug spray just in case. The informative signs are only along the first portion and within the main trail loop. However, it is worth following the signs to Four Mile Lake.
Four Mile Lake
Very quite, such a peaceful lake. A log cabin here would put you in your own world. Once you have reached the end of the trail sit down and watch the world go by. No media or distractions, just you and nature. Perhaps a couple of ducks, and hopefully not a bear. After you have soaked in the view, you can head back and continue through the trail loop, taking the portion that was not taken when you diverted to Four Mile Lake. If you followed my original suggestion to start on the right side of the loop, stay on the right hand branching trail.
- 3/5 Amenities: There are no bathrooms or shelters at the trail. However given the length of the trail it’s not really needed. If you need to use the bathroom, I’m sure the grass can use some watering.
- 5/5 Trails: Trail takes you to the great features of the area. They are well marked, and many informative signs are along the path.
- 1/5 Backpacking: This would not be the trail to backpack. However near Four Mile lake it appears some people have camped by a clearing. This trail is meant for a short day hike.
- 5/5 Maps: The map provided from the Forest Service online and on the trail is sufficient and frequent enough. It would be difficult to get lost.
- 3/5 Wilderness: With the well marked trail, informative signs, and nearby cabins on Four Mile Lake this isn’t exactly wilderness. However it is far enough from the masses that the woods are very quiet and pristine.
- 4/5 Enjoyment: This hike has a lot to offer. Plenty of information and beauty to it. If I’m ever in the area again I would come back to this trail. It’s a great, shorter day hike.