History’s Gem of the Month: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal Part 4

October 2008

Access and Circulation

A scenic road would make accessible much of the now remote shoreline and permit visitors to tour the entire length of the park. In places, this road would run along the rim of the uplands overlooking the important natural and scenic areas, leaving them road-free yet visible. Associated trails would lead into these areas (Minors, Chapel and Beaver Basins). Spurs to the main road would take the visitor to other superb vistas, important features, and within a short walking distance of waterfalls.

A trail system, complementing the interpretive road, would provide unlimited opportunities for exploring the lakeshore. This system would traverse the area from east to west, but shorter loop trails would also be provided. In most cases, the trails would be completely away from roads, particularly in the Miners Basin, along with the Pictured Rocks from Mosquito Harbor to Chapel Beach, the Beaver Basin, Au Sable Point and the Grand Sable Dunes.

An important means of viewing the scenic features of the shoreline would be by excursion boats plying the offshore waters of Lake Superior.

Camping and Picnicking

Visitors could enjoy the national lakeshore through camping and picnicking experiences. Three campgrounds available by road are proposed, the major one along Pine Bluff Beach. Here, vegetation, substratum, exposure, and proximity to Lake Superior are favorable factors. Other campgrounds are proposed for Grand Sable Dunes and Miners Basin. Four primitive campgrounds containing Appalachian-type shelters are planned to serve hikers. Tentative, these sites would be at Mosquito Harbor, Beaver Lake, Pine Bluff Beach and Au Sable Point.

Beach Use

Swimming in the cold (54 degrees) water of Lake Superior is never likely to be a popular pastime for any but the hardiest. Nevertheless, swimming is possible in several places. The shallow waters along the sandy west shore of Sand Point are currently used by swimmers. The small beach at the north end of Grand Sable Lake is and could continue to be, used for swimming in conjunction with a proposed contact station; picnic ground and dunes access point.

The wealth of sandy beaches in the proposed Lakeshore provides space for several beach uses. Twelve miles of undeveloped beach stretch between the east end of the Pictured Rocks and Au Sable Point, and would be available for beachcombing, hiking and sunbathing.

Boating and Canoeing

The open waters of Lake Superior are too dangerous for small boats but some of the inland lakes should be excellent for boating and canoeing. Water skiing and boating on Grand Sable Lake and canoeing in some of the more remote lakes could be popular activities for lakeshore visitors.

Hunting and Fishing

Fishermen now seek the streams and lakes in the Pictured Rocks Region because the combination of cool climate and good supply of pure water makes them excellent for trout and pike. Fishing is especially popular when the steelhead trout swim up the streams in the spring to spawn. Hunting for rugged grouse, whitetail deer and other game in season would be permitted in designate areas in accordance with Federal and state laws, except in zones which the Secretary of the Interior may designate for reasons of public safety, administration, or public use and enjoyment.

Winter Use

People would visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the winter to participate in a variety of recreational activities. Some of the inland lakes are ideal for ice boating and fishing. The Beaver Basin area could provide opportunities for tobogganing and downhill and cross-country skiing. Also, wildlife can be observed throughout the winter season. Another recreational activity that could occur is winter camping. Many people also would probably visit the lakeshore to view the northwoods winter landscape from the scenic drive.


The quality of the visitor’s experience depends upon the degree and depth to which he understands the various aspects and interplay of all the values within the lakeshore. To assist the visitor’s enjoyment of recreational opportunities and in recognizing and understanding the region’s natural values, the National Park Service would conduct an interpretive program on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Such a program should result in a rewarding experience for all lakeshore visitors.

In initiating an active interpretive and educational program, the National Park Service would employ various techniques — information centers, contact stations, interpretive drives, nature trail’s, signs and slide talks. The interpretive drive would introduce the visitor to the entire range of large-scale features. Specific aspects of the lakeshore could be interpreted by nature trails, conducted walks, slide talks, and campfire programs. Plants, birds, animals — or any other topic that is diffused throughout the lakeshore — would be identified and described in slide talks. Biological units and groups of features in place, which could include geology, plants or animals, would be displayed and interpreted by nature trails. Initially, two nature trails are proposed: one on Sand Point with its combined features of bluffs, ponds, and sandy pineland, and the other south of Pine Beach in an unusually interesting pineland bog. Eventually, two more could be provided — one in a mature hardwood stand and the other in the forested part of Grand Sable Dunes.

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