The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore’s Geology Field Notes page has this barely comprehensible stuff to say about Miner’s Castle:
The Miners Castle Member is a soft, crumbly, quartz sandstone (with abundant garnet content) about 140 feet thick; its complete section is exposed in the Pictured Rocks Cliffs between Sand Point and Miners Castle. Sediments of this member are generally poorly sorted.
Capping the easily eroded Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation in the western half of Pictured Rocks, is the resistant Early Ordovician (480-500 million years old) Au Train formation. The Au Train Formation is a light brown to white dolomitic sandstone that forms the resistant cap to the underlying softer sandstones. The numerous falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are the result of this caprock.
Read on for much more about the geology of Pictured Rocks. Erosion is indeed a factor with one of the most visible instances being April 13, 2006, when one of the pillars of Miner’s Castle collapsed.
August 24, 2013
Miners Falls is located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. To reach the Falls, take H58 west from Munising. Take H13 north 3.5 miles towards Miners Castle. There is a dirt road on the right that leads to falls. There is a sign marking the road. The dirt road is less than a mile and leads to a parking area. The walk through the woods to the falls is about 20 minutes. There are stairs at the end. The viewing area is a little frustrating. I do not know if there is an easy way into the gorge.
Little Miners Falls is about a mile downstream but you would have to bushwack to reach it. Chapel Falls, Spray Falls and Sable Falls are also in Pictured Rocks. Wagner Falls, Munising Falls, and others are in nearby Munising.
Many more Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures!
July 12, 2012
Chapel Rock deservedly gets a lot of attention, but the beach that it’s on is one of Michigan’s coolest, with the rushing chapel river, a lot of great rock formations along a secluded, sandy beach and even a great backcountry camping area. As a bonus, the trail in passes Chapel Falls.
In Wednesday Waterfall: Spray Falls on his blog Aaron writes:
Remote Spray Creek bubbles up somewhere in the middle of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, meanders through miles of maple and beech forest—then flies foam-first over a 50-foot cliff into Lake Superior. Seeing the creek upstream, you’d never guess the little guy had it in him to become one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the region.
Due to its remote location and precipitous drop, visitors to Spray Falls will have to decide ahead of time how they’d like to view it: from land, or from water. Each gives an amazing perspective and a good workout (3 miles by foot, 12 miles by float). Either way, you can contemplate gravity and the world’s largest lake in peace, because the park’s tour boats usually turn around a couple miles short of this fascinating feature. Scan the water at the base of the falls for the rusting remnants of a boiler from an 1856 shipwreck.
Read on for directions and another stunning shot of this amazing waterfall. Click to see this photo bigger and check out some more shots by Aaron of Spray Falls and view a lot more of his photography of the Upper Peninsula and the Lake Superior region on his website.
Many more Pictured Rocks photos on Michigan in Pictures.
April 12, 2012
The Michigan DNR says (in part from this PDF) that Grand Sable Lake:
…is a scenic undeveloped lake located in Alger County, about 6 miles southwest of Grand Marais. The 630 acre lake lies within the boundaries of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (PRNL). The shoreline is mostly wooded with mixed hardwoods, conifers, and cedar species. Most of the surrounding soils are sandy. Sand dunes 200 ft high are located on the north end. Grand Sable Lake has a maximum depth of 85 feet, but averages around 35-40 feet. The banks drop off quite rapidly. Even so, the shoreline at the public access site on the northeast shoreline remains shallow for over 200 feet, dropping quickly into deep water…
Access to the lake before the area became part of the PRNL was from the small park on the north end. At that time, the park was managed by the village of Grand Marais. A 1949 fisheries survey documented the presence of rock bass, northern pike, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, white suckers, and minnow species. Past stocking efforts included rainbow trout, splake, smelt, smallmouth, largemouth, pike, bluegills, and lake trout.
Much (much) more from the awesomely amazing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan in Pictures!
July 9, 2011
Go Waterfalling’s page on Spray Falls says that:
Spray Falls is the remotest, and perhaps the most impressive of the several waterfalls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The 70′ waterfall plunges over the cliffs at Pictured Rocks and lands directly in Lake Superior.
The falls is right on the edge of the cliffs, and the creek has not cut back into the cliffs at all, so it is impossible to view the falls from the front unless you are on the water. The cliffs are sheer for miles in both directions, so there is no way to get near the base of the falls without a watercraft. Lake Superior is too cold for swimming. :)
The Lakeshore Trail passes right over the top of the falls, and you can get right to the brink of the falls.
There’s more information on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore waterfalls page and I can add from personal experience that if you’re not up to the 1.5 mile hike from Chapel Beach, the Pictured Rocks Boat Tours from Munising can give you a great view as well! (one note – they can’t make it all the way there if it’s wavy though!)
More of the Pictured Rocks on Michigan in Pictures!
This was supposed to run on Saturday but I guess I didn’t hit the right buttons. One thing that I did so right was pick a time to visit the Pictured Rocks. Almost everywhere we went, we were the only people. Late November is definitely a time to visit if you want to experience the Lakeshore more or less by yourself!
Aaron has done an amazing job capturing the magic of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
See it bigger in his Michigan slideshow.
November 16, 2010
If you follow this blog, you know that one of my favorite places in Michigan is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I am pretty excited to be heading up there this weekend and am therefore declaring the rest of this week “Pictured Rocks Week” on Michigan in Pictures. ;)
The waterfall page from the Lakeshore says that Sable Falls is located about one mile west of Grand Marais on Alger County Road H-58 and that the fall…
…tumbles 75 feet over several cliffs of Munising and Jacobsville sandstone formations on its way to Lake Superior. The first viewing platform is down a staircase with 169 steps. The hike from the parking area to this staircase steps is short.
The trail continues past the falls and down the canyon. It is about a half-mile to the beach as Sable Creek as it winds its way to Lake Superior.
It’s just one of many waterfalls in the Lakeshore (map of Alger County waterfalls). Why so many?
Most of the waterfalls in this area are the result of water running over a shelf or cliffs of limey sandstone called the Munising Formation. This formation of rock extends from Tahquamenon Falls, some 75 east of the Lakeshore, to Laughing Whitefish Falls, about 30 miles west of the Lakeshore. The Munising formation is also called the Northern Michigan cuesta or escarpment.
Lots more Pictured Rocks on Michigan in Pictures!
October 26, 2010
The Au Sable Light Station is located in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and I think that it is the most peaceful setting of any lighthouse I’ve ever visited. Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light page on Au Sable Point Lighthouse agrees, saying that the Lake Superior coastline between Whitefish Point and Grand Island attracts tons of tourists & stands as one of the most beautiful stretches of shoreline in all of the Midwest. However:
It is difficult to imagine that during the 1800’s this stretch of seemingly bucolic coastline was known to mariners as “The Shipwreck Coast,” with the hulks of innumerable vessels pushed onto the rocks by violent storms out of the north, or lost in the pea soup fogs which frequently enveloped the area.
While a Light at Whitefish Point had marked the eastern end of this stretch since 1849 and the western limit had been marked by the North Light on Grand Island since 1856, the 1860’s found mariners forced to blindly navigate the intervening 80 miles through some of the most treacherous waters in all of the Great Lakes. Bowing to increasing pressure from the maritime community, the Lighthouse Board finally took up the mariners call in its 1867 annual report, requesting a Congressional appropriation of $40,000 for the construction of a new coast light at a point between the Grand Island and Whitefish Point Lights.
It took five years for Congress to appropriate funds for the light. Pepper notes that in 1910 official government documents stopped referring to the station as “Big Sable,” and began listing it as “Au Sable,” likely to eliminate confusion with Big Sable Point on Lake Michigan. Definitely click through to Seeing the Light for much more about this lighthouse including old photos!
More Michigan lighthouses from Michigan in Pictures!
September 22, 2010
Here’s a beautiful shot of the amazing colors of the rock at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, likely taken from the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise. GORP’s page on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore says:
The name “pictured rocks” comes from the streaks of mineral stain that decorate the face of the sculpted cliffs. The ramparts of the cliffs are composed of 500-million-year-old Cambrian sandstone of the Munising Formation. The Munising Formation makes up much of the angled slopes and formations, such as Miners Castle. Closest to lake level is the Jacobsville Formation, a late-Precambrian mottled red sandstone that is the oldest exposed rock in the park. Covering all is the 400-million-year-old Ordovician Au Train Formation, a harder, limy sandstone that serves as a capstone and protects the underlying sandstone from rapid erosion. The streaks on the cliffs occur when groundwater oozes out of cracks. The dripping water contains iron, manganese, limonite, copper, and other minerals that leave behind a colorful stain as water trickles down the cliff face.
Check it out bigger in Brent’s slideshow.
More Pictured Rocks from Michigan in Pictures!