The Inside Perspective
For years, Munising was a scenic small town you traveled through to go somewhere else. Over time, it’s become a sought-after recreational destination – by lots of people other than locals.
It’s most famous claim to fame is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There are only four National Lakeshores in the United States. They are federally designated and signify a preserved area of natural and recreational significance. This area also safeguards the Alger Underwater Preserve, a geographic area inclusive of Pictured Rocks, which houses several major shipwrecks lying within recreational diving limits.
Pictured Rocks are beautiful and well-worth seeing. Although many people hike/backpack the 40-mile sandstone-strata shoreline, many others paddle it. My favorite trip combined both pursuits, involved four people and a baby, one double kayak, one vehicle, a baby-backpack, and tents.
Pictured Rocks Cruises operates out of Munising, offers a regular cruising schedule, and a dependable way to see the lakeshore. Another approach, would be renting your own pontoon boat or kayaks. From experience, I would recommend watching for a nice south wind which tends to yield flat waters and a comfortable lake adventure.
When you’ve had enough of the water, there are marvelous mountain biking opportunities in this area. The beautiful Bruno’s Run is a ten-mile trail off of Forest Highway 13 and is easily accessed from Pete’s Lake (https://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/brunos-run.html). You can hook up with the McKeever Hills Cross Country Ski Trails from there – either on purpose, or by accident – so be on the lookout (https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hiawatha/recarea/?recid=13334). Valley Spur is another ten-mile gem whose signage has improved dramatically over the years (http://valleyspur.org/). It’s now possible to stay on their designated bike trails without endlessly straying onto the cross-country ski trails. There’s also new single-track and a bike park up on the ridge that has gotten great reviews, though I haven’t tried it out yet (https://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/water-tank-trail-11998.html).
A little east of town is Grand Island National Recreation Area (there are 18 Recreation Areas nationally) which can be reached by ferry or personal watercraft. It offers 23-miles of trail to either bike or hike with camping at 19 designated single campsites and two group campsites. The island contains 13,500 acres of forest with 35 miles of shoreline. You do need to get off the main road if you want a good view of the lake. A visit here makes a nice day-trip or weekend of camping. Be sure to make it to the scenic Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse.
These are the experiences most Munising-bound people are familiar with. However, you could also try mushing with Husky Haven Sled Dogs, swing an iron at the Pictured Rocks Golf Course, try ice-climbing at the Eben Ice Caves, snap pictures of the myriad waterfalls located close by, try your hand at slots, blackjack, or poker at the Christmas Kewadin Casino, experience Lake Superior game fishing with Kimar Resort in the summer, and try ice-fishing on the South Bay in the winter.
For a small town with 2,000 year-round residents, Munising has it going on! Start your day at the Falling Rock Café, have lunch with a Muldoon’s pasty, and finish off the adventure with dinner at The Dogpatch.