There is nothing like waking up to the sounds of the waves just feet from your door and birds chirping outside your window! No time to waste – there were bike trails calling and our friends Beth and Chad were going to be in town today! We were on a mission to get in our bike ride before they arrived in town, so that we could spend time with them, sharing our adventures and favorite spots in the area!
After a quick breakfast in our motel room, it was off to the Valley Spur Bike trails, just south of town. The Valley Spur trails include 4 loops, of varying distances and expertise levels. We opted for the longer loop (12 miles) that was calling our name. According to the maps, aside from the hill at the beginning of the trail, this was a fairly level trial. This sounded like just what we were looking for!
Ok, a hill at the beginning? I knew we were in trouble when this “hill” was named “Stairway to Heaven”!! This was no little hill! The incline was steep, winding and decorated nicely with rocks, tree branches and other random features. I was determined to make it to the top without having to stop and walk my bike! After the first turn, I lost Darrin in the trees behind me… there was only one way up the hill so the sooner I got to the top, the longer break I could get while I waited for him!! After what seemed like forever, the crest of the hill was finally in front of me – and I was ready for a short rest. From a quick look at my phone, that first part of the trail was less that 3/4 of a mile. I would swear that it was more like 2 miles – at least that is what it felt like! But I made it all the way to the top without having to walk! Once we got past that hill, the rest of the trail was a piece of cake. At one point, where the ATV trail crossed the bike trail, which crossed the horse trail, I think we ended up getting turned around and found ourselves on a gravel road instead of the bike trail. We knew which direction we were heading, so we kept going. Eventually, if this road didn’t bring us back to the trail (Which Darrin was pretty sure it would from when he was studying the map at the motel) we knew that eventually we would come back out to the main highway, which would get us back to the car. Darrin was right, we made our way back to the trail right where he thought that we would. Before long we were back at the car, completing our biking adventure. As a result of our missed turn in the trail, we didn’t hit the 12 miles that the loop should have been, but we did hit right about 10.5 miles. Excellent morning ride!
|Beth and Bill from Uncle Ducky’s with her new kayak!|
Perfect timing to finish our ride too. Just after we arrived back at the car, Beth called to say they were about 30 miles from Munising. Just enough time for us to head to the motel, take showers and meet them at Uncle Ducky’s to pick up their kayak! People say those goofy contests on facebook to like and share this post are just a scam to get you to a certain website or page… Beth will proudly tell you that they are not! Thanks to Uncle Ducky and his contest, she is the proud owner of this new kayak! Oh the places she and Chad will be going now! So happy for you my friend!!
Once we had her kayak securely strapped to the top of her car, it was time to find lunch! Where were we heading for lunch? Why Johnny Dogs of course! Unfortunately, we pulled into their parking lost to find that they were closed for the day!!!! Closed for private parties/events… What to do next? So, second best… it was off to try Muldoon’s Pasty shop. Voted best pasties in the entire UP, they must be good. The wonderful smell of fresh baked pasties really can wake up a person’s senses! The small pasty and gift shop is located in a small house right on the main highway heading out of town. You can’t miss the quaint little house with the huge sign out front advertising their award winning pasties. This was the first time that Beth was actually having a fresh pasty! The few times she had them before was when we brought frozen ones home and shared with them. Reheating them is ok, but nothing beats one fresh out of the oven!
|Summer fun with old friends, sharing adventures!|
Muldoon’s Party’s go into the oven weighing just over a pound each, filled with beef (or chicken if you so choose), potatoes, carrots and rutabaga, wrapped neatly into that beloved flaky crust! These were definitely worth the stop for lunch! We enjoyed our tasty treats outside in the perfect afternoon sun, planning our plan of attack for the rest of the day. It would be an adventure, taking Beth and Chad to some of our favorite places that we have found over the last 2 years!
After a quick stop at the motel to drop off Beth’s car and get some water, we were off! First destination for the afternoon was Miners Falls and Miners Castle, just a short drive from our motel! When we arrived at the parking are to Miners Falls, we were disappointed to see a sign that read no pets beyond this point… Beth and Chad were traveling with their dog today and she loves to hike! She would not be able to join us on this one. Beth offered to stay behind with Maya in the parking area while we make a quick run down to the falls so Chad could at least get some pictures. A short time after hitting the trail, we saw at least 3 groups with their dogs… I guess the sign didn’t pertain to them. oh well, we were not the ones that were breaking the rules, we were just out to have a fun afternoon!
Miners Falls never disappoints. The viewing platforms at the top, as well as the bottom give you the complete feeling of the power behind this tall but fast moving wall of water! This is one of those local hot spots that we have stopped at each and every summer we have been here – it is always just as remarkable as the times before.
From Miners Falls, it was on the Miners Castle, just down the road a little further! Along the way to Miners Castle, you will also find the turn off to Miners Beach. This is one of the most popular beaches in the area and you will always find a a crowd here! It doesn’t matter if you reason for heading there is relaxing on the beach, swimming orto launching a kayak, Miners Beach is truly a destination!
Miners Castle is probably one of the most recognized areas of the entire Pictured Rocks lakeshore and is visited by thousands of travels each year. There was a second turret out on the point, but that was lost due to erosion back in 2006. It is interesting to look at pictures from previous years just to see how things have changed over time, mainly due to the effects of mother nature! The thing that always amazing me when we visit this area is how clear the water is down below! One day I will travel this area via kayak so that I can get that unique up close perspective of this awesome area!
Now it’s time to head to the other side of Munising for out next stop of today’s adventure! Scott Falls is just West of Christmas, about 15 minutes from Munising. This waterfall is right along the side of the highway and I don’t know how many years I drove right past it growing up before I even realized it was here! It is a small waterfall that you can walk right up to, behind, under, through, whatever your choice for the day might be! as you can see from the picture, Darrin opted for the INTO the waterfall option. Yes, the water was cold, but it actually felt very refreshing after being out in the warm summer sun all afternoon!
One of the cool features of this falls is that you can easily walk from the base of the falls to the top via a short trail just to the left of the pool at the bottom. Give you a totally different perspective of a waterfall when you can literally stand in the water right at the top, just before it makes it decent of the edge! By the time we left Scott Falls, I thing each of us had somehow found our way into the water, even if it was just walking in the cool pool at the base of the falls… including Maya! It is a good thing that we always have a tote filled with towels in the back of the car! Darrin needed to sit on one and Beth needed to try and contain Maya’s muddy paws so they didn’t get the car covered in mud!
From Scott Falls is was a short drive to Bay Furnace. A local gem that we found 2 years ago on our first trip through the area. Bay furnace is the location of a huge stone blast furnace that was was used when iron ore was smelted in the forge and melted into pig iron. The stone furnace is the only things that remains of the small town that once was in the area. One of Darrin’s favorite things to do when we visit Bay Furnace is to do a little “rock” picking. If you look carefully you can find some awesome purple “rocks” that were created years ago when the melted iron was cooled in the cold waters of Lake Superior Darrin has found several of these awesome purple treasures over the years and was having fun this year finding some for Beth.
|Beth and I at Bay Furnace|
While Darrin and Beth were carefully searching the waters for treasures, it gave Maya a chance to burn off some energy and tear up the beach. Once again, good thing we had those towels in the car, she was really going to need it now as her white fur was now caked with wet sand from the beach
Our final stop on our adventures for the afternoon was at the Munising Lookout to get a true birdseye view of Munising Bay, all the way out Pictures Rocks. This was a quick stop tho on our whirlwind tour as it was quickly approaching the dinner hour and we were very much looking forward to a cookout for dinner to complete this awesome day!
Once we made a run through the grocery store, it was back to the Sunset Motel to fire up the grill! That is one of the best perks of the motel! They have grills, charcoal, grill utensils and everything that you need for a cookout without having to haul everything with you! There is nothing better than a cookout, right on the lake to follow up an afternoon adventure with good friends! Darrin got to work right away to get the coals just right for our feast of burgers and hot dogs, along with some cold beer and chips! Everything was cooked to perfection and Darrin was now referred to by the hotel staff as the weekend grill master! Pure perfections!
After we got everything cleaned up from dinner, we had one last adventure for Beth and Chad before they headed home… the true hidden gem of Munising! Tannery Falls is virtually just across the road from the motel, up a short trail. This, in my mind is the coolest waterfall in the area. It is not well advertised so there is rarely anyone else at the falls when we have been there. I have heard tho that you do need to make sure NOT to park on the main road near where the trail starts or you will be ticketed. There are areas close to the trail where you can park, so that might be your best option! 🙂 The walk back to the falls takes you right along the end of a rock cliff through a narrow cavern. The tree cover of the cavern always keeps the air temps a little cooler that what you leave from when you start the hike! Just when you are really getting into enjoying the quiet hike, you round a bend and discover a breathtaking little waterfall (i say little, but it is in actuality 40 feet high). This again, is one of those falls that you can really interact with! Today, this was where Darrin took his 3rd shower of the day, as he had to walk into the water again! This falls is right near one other waterfall (Memorial Falls) which we had not made it to yet so that was another adventure for later (later tonight as it would turn out…).
Darrin was actually not the only one that tried out the water at Tannery today. Beth and I also had to show him that we were out to have just as much fun as him! And I will tell you one thing – that water was cold. Much colder than the water at Scott Falls earlier in the day, but we were not about to let a 15 year old have all the fun!!
This afternoon spent with Beth and Chad was an amazing afternoon. It really makes you realize how much friends can make a difference! This summer I have come to realize that I have some simply awesome friends and family that I have been able to share unforgettable memories with! The summer may be winding down quickly but I am determined to make the most of the summer days that are left and start thinking out the next adventures and see where they take me!
|the quiet evening sunset over Munising Bay, Sunset Motel|