pictured rocks, tahquamenon falls & campfire burrito bowls

Grand Portal Point of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Grand Portal Point of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

You may have noticed on my instagram that I recently made a trip up to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This trip was, in a way, a commemorative Michigan adventure before I move out to Colorado. Which is happening in 3 DAYS folks. 3 days - yikes.

I have been to both Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls with my family growing up, but I wanted to go again, this time with my boyfriend Mason. We had been in Pictured Rocks this past winter for an ice climbing trip with a group from church (less intense than it sounds) and we both wanted to come back and see it in the summer.

Originally we had planned to go backpacking just in Pictured Rocks, but with the craziness that July brought, logistically it was too much work and preparation. So we car camped instead and threw Tahquamenon Falls into the itinerary. It was a great trip and while camping and adventuring doesn't necessarily leave you feeling physically rejuvenated, it does refresh your mind and your spirit even if you feel exhausted by the end of the trip. I've included a map of Pictured Rocks for your reference as I mention different hikes and places that we went.

Make sure to scroll all the way down to get the details on how to make campfire burrito bowls- yum!

Map of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Map of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

the trip

We took a 3 day, 3 night excursion: 2 nights in Picture Rocks National Lakeshore and 1 night in Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

After an excessively long car ride (traffic and construction, yuck) up to Pictured Rocks, we arrived at the park only to find that all of the campsites in the National Lakeshore were full. Luckily, we were able to snag one of the last campsites in a small state campground called Ross Lake, about 30 minutes away from Munising (the town on the western side of the park). Since we only had the evening to explore, we did about a 3 mile hike round trip out Lake Superior in the Beaver Basin area. We walked along the beach and climbed around on some rocks for awhile before heading back to the campground for the night. We had a delicious dinner (scroll all the way down to learn more!) and a relaxing fire to finish off our first day.

The next morning we got up and had a leisurely breakfast of coffee and camp-stove oatmeal before heading out for a full day of hiking and exploration. We started with checking out Munising Falls and Miners Falls before beginning our long day hike of about 9 miles.

Miners Falls

Miners Falls

The main portion of our day was devoted to hiking the Chapel Rock & Mosquito Beach loop. This was by far my favorite part of the whole trip. The first leg of the hike was spent in the woods, passing by Chapel Lake and Chapel Falls. Once we reached Lake Superior, we saw Chapel Rock. which is a remnant of Cambrian age sandstone. The archway between the rock and the mainland collapsed in the 1940s, leaving a single tree on top of the rock with its roots connected to the mainland- pretty neat.

View of Chapel Rock

View of Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock from a different angle

Chapel Rock from a different angle

The next leg of the hike took us along part of the cliffs section of the lakeshore- it was stunning. Every turn brought into sight another breathtaking view of the cliffs. We hiked along this segment for about 4 miles before reaching Mosquito Beach and turning inland to make our way back to the car. 

The view of the cliffs looking back on our hike from Chapel Rock to Mosquito Beach

The view of the cliffs looking back on our hike from Chapel Rock to Mosquito Beach

The next morning was less leisurely, as we had to tear down camp and get to Tahquamenon Falls in time to do the 8 mile hike round trip between the lower and upper falls. We woke up at about 6:00am, broke camp and as soon as we were about to eat some breakfast, it began to rain so we quickly finished packing up and ate our oatmeal in the car.

We arrived in Tahquamenon around 10 am, had second breakfast and hit the trail. This hike was much more technically difficult than the hikes we did in Pictured Rocks. There a lot of ups and downs, roots, and exposed rocks, with several muddy areas that we had to pick our way around, which made it slow going. Once we reached the upper falls, it began to pour so our hike back to the car was a little less pleasant. Fortunately, I had a rain jacket and rain pants that kept me dry. Unfortunately, my gortex merrell's had been sent back for a replacement pair so I only had my L.L. Bean hiking boots that I got in the 6th grade. They are not waterproof and my feet were soaked in minutes.

Upper Falls in Tahquamenon State Park

Upper Falls in Tahquamenon State Park

That night, we camped at the Lower Falls Portage campground in the state park. Both Mason and I desperately wanted a warm fire to eat our dinner by, but with the dampness from the rain, we had little luck. We ended up eating our meal under a pavilion and pretty much called it a night afterwards. Not the cozy post-hike experience that we wanted, but hey that's the nature of the game. I was thankful to be returning home the next morning because a lot of our gear had gotten wet and once things get wet it's gameover (in my opinion). We woke up early again the next morning, packed up, and headed home.

No camping trip is complete without good food. continue reading to hear about the insane burrito bowls we made for dinner at the campsite!

the food

Despite our dreary last night of camping in Tahquamenon falls, we did manage to have to delicious camp food while we were in Pictured Rocks. The first night of our trip, we planned to have tacos...but the corn tortillas fell apart and were honestly just a little too messy/complicated for camping. So our tacos turned into burrito bowls, still delicious or even more so. Overall, they turned out great, so I thought I'd share this "no-recipe" recipe with you all!


campfire burrito bowls 

ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Cumin, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste
  • Cubed sweet potatoes, par-boiled
  • Pre-cooked brown rice
  • 1 can of black beans
  • Avocado, quartered with peel on
  • Spinach
  • Salsa

 

directions:

Toss precooked sweet potatoes in olive oil & spices. Once your fire gets a good amount of coals, place sweet potato cubes on a roasting stick and hold over the fire, rotating occasionally to evenly cook! While your sweet potatoes are roasting, use the left over spices & oil to brush the open faces of the avocados. If available, place avocados on the grate of your campfire pit. If you don't have a grate, just place them on a roasting stick and cook them over the fire like the sweet potatoes. On the camp stove, heat the rice and beans together, adding a little water if needed so not to burn the bottom of the pan. Once the sweet potato and avocado are nicely browned/blacked, serve in bowls with spinach on the bottom so it wilts, rice and beans, sweet potato, and salsa. Pair with tortilla chips or corn tortillas (be careful they're messy!) - enjoy.