The Best Way to see Spray Falls at Pictured Rocks

Nestled within the scenic Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising, Michigan, you will find Spray Falls. This secluded waterfall plunges about 70 feet over the Pictured Rocks cliffs directly into Lake Superior's cold, clear waters.

The falls are an impressive sight, especially when viewed from the water, where the full scale of the cascading water against the backdrop of multi-colored sandstone cliffs can be truly appreciated. Land-based viewpoints are limited.

Accessing Spray Falls requires a bit of adventure on your part. You can witness this natural wonder by hiking along the North Country Trail or taking a boat or kayak tour exploring the Lake Superior shoreline.

Regardless of how you get to see the falls, the journey provides a view of the falls and an opportunity to experience the diverse ecosystem and the geological features of the national lakeshore. 

The boat tours are a lot of fun and provide a unique way to see the area. If you prefer solitude, hiking might be a better option if you like solitude.

There are plenty of things to do in Munising, but if you love waterfalls, check out these seven waterfalls within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

waterfall flowing over limestone cliff into clear aqua waters of Lake Superior

Where is Spray Falls?

Spray Falls is nestled within the boundaries of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, USA. You can find the falls on the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula, overlooking Lake Superior at GPS coordinates 46.5370° N and 86.4231° W

This waterfall is separate from Spray Falls at Mount Rainier National Park! It's so odd that two National Park Service Sites have waterfalls with the same name! I've yet to visit the Mount Rainier location, but it's much larger based on photos.

Hiking to the Falls

To reach Spray Falls, you have two primary paths: hiking trails that lead to the falls or viewpoints that offer a glimpse from afar. Pets are NOT permitted on the North Country Scenic Trail or in the Little Beaver Wilderness area.

Both of these paths provide a moderately challenging hike, but you will be rewarded with glimpses of the area's natural splendor and Spray Falls! Use caution when near the edge of the cliffs.

Remember to pack water and snacks, wear sturdy footwear, and, as always, check the weather before you set out. The trails can be muddy and slippery, especially after rain.

The best time to hike to the picturesque waterfall is between April and October. Try to avoid early Summer, as black flies will be biting. 

North Country Trail wooden sign on post

North Country Trail via Chapel Falls Trailhead

The hike to Spray Falls is a segment of the longer North Country Scenic Trail. If you start from the Chapel trailhead, it's approximately 9.6 miles round trip. Dense forests and picturesque views of the coastline surround the trail. 

The parking lot for the Chapel Falls area also shares the area with Mosquito Falls. This lot gets VERY crowded, which is surprising since the road to get there is VERY rough. Expect about 5 miles of deep potholes and washouts.

Parking is at the end of Chapel Road. Chapel Road is about 15 miles east of Munising via Alger County Road H-58.

As you start on the trail toward Chapel Falls, expect a smooth, wide, and flat path. After about 1.2 miles, you will reach Chapel Falls.

Chapel Falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a picturesque waterfall flowing down a rocky cliff amidst a vibrant green forest, capturing the tranquil beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

This 60-foot high waterfall is incredibly picturesque in spring with surrounding wildflowers and in fall when the leaves change to yellow and orange. There will be two vantage points: a head-on perspective and a side view of the falls. 

About 1.9 miles further along the trail, you will reach Chapel Rock. Chapel Rock is special because of its unique appearance: a large rock formation with a solitary tree on top, connected to the mainland by its roots alone.

It's really cool to see in person and should be on your bucket list of places to visit at Pictured Rocks.  There is a viewing platform and some stairs for another view of the rock.

A distinctive tree with exposed roots stands atop Chapel Rock, overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, with a backdrop of rugged cliffs and dense forest

Once you are done making googly eyes at Chapel Rock, turn right along the North Country Trail to head towards Spray Falls… but before you make that turn, you should check out Chapel Beach!

The sandy beach has some high bluffs and is located at the mouth of the Chapel River. There are multiple staircases providing access to the beach. The beach is a great spot for some photos of Chapel Rock!

Okay, now that you're back on track towards Spray Falls, it will be a 1.9-mile hike along the North Country Trail. 

The round trip should take around four hours for an average hiker.

North Country Trail via Little Beaver Trailhead

Alternatively, the trek from the Little Beaver Lake trailhead is slightly shorter, covering just under 8 miles round trip. Many day hike options exist in the Beaver Lake area, and a walk-in campground is nearby. Permits are required for camping.

Near the end of Little Beaver Lake Road, you can find the day-use parking area and the trailhead nearby.  The dirt road and narrow can is about 18 miles east of Munising via Alger County Road H-58.

After stepping out for the hike, you will reach a nice view of Little Beaver Lake at about the one-mile mark.

You will also be entering the Beaver Basin Wilderness at about that time. President Obama signed into law the wilderness area to protect 11,740 acres from future development. It covers 13 miles of the Lake Superior Shoreline through the park – from Spray Falls to Sevenmile Creek to the east.

The hike will offer fabulous views of inland rock formations – similar to those in other park areas.

About 0.6 miles past Little Beaver Lake, you want to take the North Country Trail junction to the left towards the area known as the Coves area. The Coves hike-in campground is popular for those hiking the North Country Trail.

Continue along the main trail until an outcrop offers a stunning vantage point. On a clear day, look west (about 2.5 miles), and you should be able to spot a picturesque view of Grand Portal Point. 

The round trip should take just less than three hours for an average hiker.

Fall time image of Grand Portal in the distance. Cliffs against Lake Superior.

Viewing the Falls from the Lake

Boat Tours

Boat tours to Spray Falls offer a comfortable and scenic journey, perfect for those who prefer a relaxed and guided sightseeing experience.  

The tours depart from the Munising Harbor and provide expansive views of the Pictured Rocks cliffs and the falls. Commentary about the area's history and geology will likely be provided during the tour.

Some operators offer specialized tours that focus on Spray Falls, allowing for a more detailed appreciation of this natural wonder.

While on a boat tour, you will likely hear about the 1856 shipwreck of the “Superior.” The wreckage rests at the base of the falls in about 20 feet of water.

Pictured Rocks Cruises is the preferred boat touring company for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which offers non-stop narrated boat tours.

Trees changing colors in fall with a waterfall flowing over limestone cliff into clear aqua waters of Lake Superior

Kayak Tours

For a more adventurous and intimate view of Spray Falls, kayak tours are an excellent choice. Paddling close to the cliff face, you get an up-close perspective of the falls.

This option is ideal for active travelers who enjoy connecting with nature quietly and personally, and guided tours are available for novice and experienced kayakers.

Double kayaks are used for the tours, and the length of the tours typically ranges from three to eight hours in length. Click here for a list of NPS-approved vendors.

Two people in Kayak in aqua blue waters against rock cliff

FAQs: Spray Falls

What is the best way to access Spray Falls in Pictured Rocks?

To best access Spray Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, most visitors opt for the route that starts at the Little Beaver Lake Campground. The trail offers scenic vistas and leads directly to the falls area.

What are the hiking trail options to see Spray Falls, Michigan?

There are two main trails to reach Spray Falls: the Chapel Loop, which is a longer trek and includes the Mosquito and Chapel beaches, and the North Country Scenic Trail, a more direct route from the Little Beaver Lake Campground.

Can you reach Spray Falls by boat, and are there tours available?

Yes, you can reach Spray Falls by boat. Pictured Rocks Cruises offers narrated tours that provide views of the falls from Lake Superior. Private boat rentals are also an option for those who wish to explore at their own pace.

Final Thoughts: Spray Falls

As you reflect upon your visit to Spray Falls, you will likely find yourself deeply appreciating the raw beauty and serene landscapes, not just of Spray Falls but of Pictured Rocks as a whole.

Whether it's an impressive waterfall, the striking cliffs, or the peaceful forests, the routes offer an unforgettable experience. 

I've been to the park multiple times and always find something new to explore, so whether you only have a day to spend in the park or a week, it is always a great trip all year round!  The Pictured Rocks in the winter is fascinating!

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waterfall flowing over limestone cliff into clear aqua waters of Lake Superior  in the fall as leaves are changing color
3 images: waterfall flowing over limestone cliff into clear aqua waters of Lake Superior, two people in a kayak paddling in water, tour boat passing a limestone cliff
waterfall flowing over limestone cliff into clear aqua waters of Lake Superior

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