Hiking Chapel Basin Loop along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of our favorite hikes we have ever completed. This hike gives you amazing views of the Pictured Rocks along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The North Country Trail (part of the Chapel Basin Loop), between Chapel Beach and Mosquito Beach, is the only place you can see these unique multicolored Pictured Rock cliffs from land. This hike will also take you past two waterfalls (Chapel Falls and Mostiquo Falls), to a unique rock formation (Chapel Rock) and to two beaches (Mostiquo Beach and Chapel Beach). With so much pretty and varied scenery on this hike, the Chapel Basin Loop Trail will not disappoint anyone up to hiking it. Here is our complete guide on hiking the Chapel Basin Loop.
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FYI This post is written based off two different hikes both completed in early September
How long is the Chapel Basin Loop Hike? How much elevation gain on the Chapel Basin Loop Hike?
This trail is approximately 10 miles with 750 feet of elevation gain and is a loop trail. However, that being said, we have hiked this trail twice and have recorded a longer distance both times. With walking down to the beaches (Mosquito and Chapel beach), we have recorded this hike to be a little over 12 miles both times. We recommend budgeting enough time (and mentally preparing yourself) to hike 12 miles before starting.
Which way should I hike the Chapel Basin Loop?
You have the option to start this loop hike towards Mosquito Falls/Beach (clockwise) or Chapel Falls/Beach (counter-clockwise). See map above for a visual. We have hiked both ways and recommend starting toward Mosquito Falls/Beach. The Mosquito part of the trail involves more elevation and is more uneven/rocky than the start/end of the Chapel Falls part of the loop. It is best to do this Mosquito part of the trail when your legs are fresh and save the relatively flat/smooth Chapel Falls part of the loop for when you are more fatigued at the end of your hike.
What are the Chapel Basin Loop Logistics?
This hike starts at the Chapel Falls Trailhead in Shingleton, Michigan (easy to find by typing into Google Maps).
Start Towards Hiking Mosquito Falls/Beach
Starting towards Mosquito Falls at the trailhead, you will hike about a mile on a rocky/root covered path before arriving at these pretty flowing falls. Mosquito Falls is the less impressive of the two waterfalls you will see on this trail but nonetheless pretty.
After hiking to Mosquito Falls on the Chapel Basin Loop, you will make your way towards Mosquito beach. This will take you about another 1.5 miles. This path is rocky and root covered as well. When you reach the Mosquito area, be sure to look for signage pointing you down to the beach. It is easy to pass it by as it is not easily visible from the main path and you do have to walk down to it. Mosquito Beach is extremely scenic, peaceful and not crowded, especially early in the morning (when we had it to ourselves).
Hike Along the Pictured Rocks
After stopping at Mosquito Beach on the Chapel Basin Loop hike, you will now hike about 4.5 miles parallel to the Lake Superior Shore along the famous Pictured Rocks. This is the best part of the hike! Soak in the views of all the rock formations including Indian Head and Grand Portal Point (our favorite). The views along this part of the path are why we love this hike so much.
Hike Through the Chapel Beach/Falls Area
After you hike along the Pictured Rocks on the Lake Superior Shoreline, you will arrive at Chapel Beach. This is a nice sandy beach. It is more crowded than Mosquito Beach but is a nice place to stop and take a break. You then can hike parallel to Chapel Beach before you reach Chapel Rock. Chapel Rock is a super unique rock formation with a large tree growing on top of it jutting out of the shoreline.
After seeing Chapel Rock, you will turn right and start your hike back towards the parking lot. On the way, you will pass Chapel Falls (after about 1.9 miles). This waterfall is the bigger of the two on this loop. Be careful to not get off the trail here as it can be a bit confusing which path is correct – there are several sections that look like trails to take. You will need to cross a bridge after you see the initial Chapel Falls viewing platform to continue on the trail back towards the parking lot (approximately 1.2 miles away). The trail after this point is relatively flat and smooth before you reach the parking lot.
How long will it take to complete the Chapel Basin Loop Trail?
Budget 5-6 hours when hiking Chapel Basin Loop at Pictured Rocks. You may be able to hike it much faster but it took us between 5 and 6 hours (including breaks) when hiking the first time with only our newborn daughter and then the second time with our newborn son as well as our 2 year old daughter (both carried). For tips on hiking with an infant, see our How to Hike with a Baby post.
Are dogs allowed on the Chapel Basin Loop?
No, dogs are not allowed on the Chapel Basin Loop. There is a large fine for bringing them as well so best to leave fido at home. Many of the shorter hikes in the area, covered in our Complete What to do Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Guide, are dog friendly though so be sure to check those out if you will have your dog in tow.
Is the Chapel Basin Loop Hike Busy?
Yes, it is highly trafficked. Arrive early as the trail is less busy earlier in the day. The Chapel Falls/Basin side of the loop tends to be busier because many people only hike out to Chapel Falls and/or Chapel Rock/Beach.
Also, hiking it on a predicted or questionably rainy day helps negate some of the crowds too (just be prepared with the right gear). Here are links to the rain gear we use and love:
- Men’s North Face Waterproof Hiking Pants
- Women’s North Face Waterproof Hiking Pants
- Men’s North Face Waterproof Rain Jacket
- Women’s Waterproof North Face Rain Jacket
- Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Baby Rain Suit
We hiked the trail the second time on a questionably rainy and overcast day. We loved how we had the trail mostly to ourselves and luckily we never actually got rained on.
Anything else I need to know about hiking the Chapel Basin Loop?
The road to access the trailhead is in rough conditions and 4WD is preferred to access it. However, you likely could navigate with 2WD if you go slow and carefully. We were easily able to drive the road with an AWD small SUV.
We hope this guide helps you plan hiking the Chapel Basin Loop. See our Complete What to do Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Guide for more information on this area. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
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