Chapel Falls, set within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, is a slide waterfall that offers an impressive natural display, especially in the spring when the water flows peak.
The falls stand about 60 feet tall and give way to a tranquil pool below, surrounded by the dense forest of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
This waterfall is slightly more remote than some other waterfalls at Pictured Rocks, but it still gets many visitors. Plan to get to the parking area early, before 9 am, to get a parking space during peak season.
Tip: Pets are not allowed in this area of the park
Getting There: Travel Directions
From Munising, travel east on Alger County Road H-58 for about 15 miles and turn onto Chapel Road. Chapel Road is a dirt road, often in rough condition.
The parking lot serves as a starting point for Chapel Falls and trails leading to Mosquito Falls and Chapel Beach.
There is a seasonal vault toilet near the parking area.
Tip: You must have a park pass to park in these parking lots. The National Park Annual Pass will work. You must pick up a pass at the visitors center or order online.
Hiking to Chapel Falls
The trek starts at the Chapel Basin parking lot, where the Chapel Falls Trail invites you to enter a world where nature reigns supreme. Pick up a map at a visitor center or save the map to your phone.
The trail is an easy-to-follow old roadbed that meanders up and down small hills through an upland maple forest. At the 1.2-mile mark, you will be greeted with a view of the 60-foot-high waterfall as it cascades toward Chapel Lake.
The viewing platform offers the perfect vantage point of the falls. You may need to play peek-a-boo with the trees to get the best views of this beautiful waterfall.
Two viewing platforms provide views of the Chapel Basin along the route.
Tip: The best time of year to view this slide waterfall is spring when snowmelt occurs.
Exploring Beyond the Falls
The Chapel Area is just one of the jewels in this area of Pictured Rocks. Consider extending your hike with a visit to Chapel Rock, Chapel Beach, and Lake Superior. Chapel Rock is 1.8 miles past the Falls.
Once you get to Chapel Rock, head down to Chapel Beach for extra memorable photos of Chapel Rock and check how cold Lake Superior is.
From that point, you can either head east along the Lakeshore Trail 1.7 miles to Spray Falls for a side trip adventure to extend your hiking mileage or continue on the Chapel Loop Trail.
If you complete the loop, instead of going the way you came, it will be a 2.7-mile hike until you reach a short 0.3-mile junction, where you must head south to get back to the parking lot.
The entire loop trail is a great hike that will take four to five hours to complete.
The most challenging portion of the trail is along the west side of Chapel Lake. Expect the trail to have many roots and be muddy if it's rained recently.
At that fork, it is 0.3 miles from the parking lot I mentioned earlier. Well, that takes you to Mosquito Falls. It would be 0.7 miles, one way to add that to your trek. As you can tell, a full-day hike is possible in the area.
There are backcountry campgrounds in the area, but you must make a reservation to set up camp.
Tip: Cell service is not likely in this Pictured Rocks area. Be sure to have a trail map and let someone know where you plan to go before heading out and exploring.
FAQs: Chapel Falls
What is the best time of year to visit Chapel Falls?
The ideal time to visit Chapel Falls is in the spring when the snowmelt increases the water flow, offering a more dramatic view. However, the waterfall is a beautiful sight throughout the year.
How long is the hike to Chapel Falls, and what are the trail conditions?
The hike to Chapel Falls is approximately 1.2 miles one way from the parking lot. The trail, an old roadbed, has some hills and can be muddy after rain, but it's generally easy for hikers of all levels.
Are there any facilities at the Chapel Falls trailhead?
Yes, the parking area at the Chapel Falls trailhead includes a seasonal vault toilet. Remember to obtain a National Park pass, which is required for parking, at the visitor center or online.
Final Thoughts: Chapel Falls
Chapel Falls is a rewarding destination for hikers and nature lovers.
The journey to the falls offers scenic beauty and a moderate challenge.
Whether you're just hiking to see the falls, extending your route to explore Chapel Rock, cooling off at Chapel Beach, or completing the Chapel Loop Trail, the area promises diverse experiences.
A visit to Chapel Falls is an opportunity to disconnect and immerse yourself in the beauty of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
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