Pictured Rocks – Hiawatha Water Trail

Grand Marais – Pictured Rocks – Grand Island
6 days (64 miles)

Runs May, June and Sept. minimum paddlers 4

This 6 day adventure covers the most scenic areas of the Hiawatha Water Trail and lots of folks claim it to be the most scenic kayaking trip you can take in the United States, certainly in the Midwest.

It is not a trip for a novice and although we have to respect the conditions that Lake Superior gives us, we try to keep somewhat on a schedule to complete the 58 mile distance in the days planned. It is best to plan for at least one day and possibly two ashore due to weather. But on the good paddling days we try to make up some distance lost. Best time of the year is mid June thru mid August.


On this trip we will paddle first along the Grand Sable Dunes. . Five square miles of Grand Sable Dunes are perched atop the 300-foot high Grand Sable Banks.  Left by enormous glaciers, the Grand Sable Dunes dwarf comprehension.

Au Sable Point lighthouse was built to help navigate sailors in their dreaded journey, along the eighty miles of dark shoreline that stretch from Grand Island Lighthouse to the famed light on Whitefish Point.  An eighty-seven foot brick tower was built on a rise, placing the light about 107 feet above the lake service. The attached, two-story brick keeper’s dwelling was spacious, but also one of the most remote mainland stations in America.

Rounding the Au Sable Point we can paddle into shore to get out and explore the lighthouse. Also, once we have rounded the point and are continuing westbound the shoreline changes from sand to rocks and the Pictured Rocks begin. This area is called the “Shipwreck Coast” because of the ships that have gone aground on the Au Sable Reef. Their debris fields are scattered to the southwest along the shore here.

Off the Hurricane River we are searching in about 40 feet of water for the Kiowa, a World War I Laker that went down in November of 1929. About 80% of her debris field remains.  Paddling along a rocky shoreline we pass over  a debris field from the Mary Jarecki,  a 200 ft. Steamer that ran aground in a storm in 1883 and the Sitka, another 272ft Steamer that ran aground on the Au Sable Reef but was scattered 2miles southwest off the Hurricane River. The Gales Staples a 277 ft. wooden steamer lies scattered in 20 feet of water off the Au Sable Point.

The Twelvemile Beach area lies on a northeast/southwest orientation of beautiful sand and rock beaches backed by sandy bluffs slowly changing to small sandstone outcroppings that grow into the massive 200 foot cliffs known as the Pictured Rocks.

The beautiful Spray Falls is the first prominent landmark in this area followed by Chapel Rock and the Chapel Beach. The Caves of the Bloody Chiefs and the great rock arch at the Grand Portal Point both show the awesome power of the ice and wave action of thousands of years on the sandstone. Paddling thru the Great Portal Arch, past Indian Head and Sail Rock we

continue southwest and feel so minute along these towering cliffs. The image is reminiscent of a masters painting: a palette of nature’s colors, shapes, and textures creates the scene that is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Mosquito Beach, Shipwreck Point, Miners Beach and Miners Castle all follow in sequence as we paddle further southwest to Sand Point for our crossing over to Grand Island.

Grand Island is shaped much like the continent of Africa and has a circumference of 27 miles. Its north and eastern faces show the erosion of the ice and waves from the lake and are very similar to the Pictures Rocks. Trout Bay has a beautiful beach and the cliffs on the north end of the island tower 300 feet above the lake. Grand Island Lighthouse at the top of these cliffs serves as a beacon in the night to mariners. The west side of the island has several beautiful sand beaches. Grand Island was the summer campsite for Native Americans for thousands of years where they fished and gathered blueberries. In the middle and later 19th century it was a fuel stop to get wood for the steam fired ships carrying goods in and lumber and iron ore out of this area. Many shipwrecks also are found around the island namely the Bermuda in Murray Bay, the Herman Hettler off Trout Point, and the Mary M. Scott off Sand Point.

There are many things to see on this trip, magnificent rock formations, shipwrecks, and deep forests of emerald, black and gold, vibrant blue and crystal clear water, wildlife such as eagles, loons, and black bears on Grand Island. One of the most awe aspiring sights is the night sky, especially from the campsite at the tip of Grand Island on a crystal clear night. Hope for a cloudless night there.

On this trip you will also gain confidence in sea kayaking as our guide and instructors teach you about the lake, and the weather up here, we’ll do some navigation problems, we’ll practice some rescues, and we’ll give you some pointers on your strokes. They aren’t bad cooks either.

We try to operate on a schedule but don’t wind your clock to tight. Remember you are on vacation. We want a safe trip and we want to have a great experience.

Trip overview:  Grand Marais-Pictured Rocks – Grand Island
Dates: June 15- August 15 Best Time Period
Departure: Woodland Park Grand Marais, Mi.
Price: Adults $999- 4 person minimum-6 person maximum
Level: Intermediate – Experienced
Distance: 58 Miles
Duration: 6 Days- Paddling , 5 overnights
Included: All inclusive of , wilderness camping gear, kayaks, kayak equipment, meals, fees
Not Included: Personal gear, sleeping bags
Note: Allow 1-2 extra days for weather delays



Day 1 – Meet at 8:00 AM at the Woodland Park Campground in Grand Marais. Briefing, equipment check, and packing kayaks. We may elect to do this the evening prior if you are in the area or staying at the campground.
10:00 AM- Paddle to Hurricane River Campground

Day 2 – 10:00 AM Paddle to Chapel Beach Campground

Day 3 – 10:00 AM Paddle to Mosquito Beach Campground

Day 4 – 10:00 AM Paddle to Trout Point Campground on Grand Island

Day 5 – 10:00 AM Paddle to Northeast Point Campground on Grand Island

Day 6 – 10:00 AM Paddle to Grand Island Ferry Dock
This Trip Itinerary is a plan and an estimate. In perfect weather conditions it is easily done as scheduled. Murphy’s Law says there will probably be some adjustments to it. Evenings will be spent relaxing, hiking, swimming, and eating. Our guides carry communication equipment for nightly position reports to base of operations.


Clothing: It may appear from the following list that you will be preparing for an arctic adventure! However, these clothes should keep you comfortable under poor weather conditions: warm jacket (i.e., for fall conditions) or windbreaker with pile/fleece (e.g. Polartec) liner or wool sweater, long-sleeved shirt, t-shirt, warm wool or synthetic socks, one pair of pants, shorts, swim suit, undergarments, small towel.Paddling gear: Cap, sun glasses, paddling jacket (synthetic windbreaker or rain-suit, preferably with elasticized cuffs), short pants of synthetic material, neoprene booties or water sandals (e.g. Tevas) or running shoes, synthetic long underwear (top and bottom), plastic water bottle, head strap for glasses. A “Farmer John/Jane” wet suit will be supplied by Paddling Michigan; however, to guarantee a good fit, a wet-suit can be purchased at many outdoor stores.

Hand-held sighting compass.

Paddling clothes should be synthetic, or with minimal cotton.

Personal Gear:
Sunscreen, chap stick, bug dope, toilet paper, matches or lighter, soap, etc. On day trips, we will have enough “river” bags to accommodate most clothing, but bring ziploc bags for snacks and small articles. Sleeping Bag


Kayaks and Accessories: Kayaks, paddles, PFD’s,  Tow lines, Dry BagsWet suits are provided. Please indicate your lifejacket size and wet suit size when you send deposit or trip balance.

Camping Equipment: One tent for each couple or individual, thermarest, camp grill, coffee pot, water purifier, 19 ft. shelter tarp, camp saw, cook stoves, fuel, camp cookery, dishes, two large dry bags for your sleeping bag and bulky clothing, and smaller dry bags as required.

Safety Equipment: First aid kit, marine radio, compass, tow line.