|Vanhoose cruising along the lakeshore|
More or less on a whim, Ben Vanhoose and I decided to head way Up North and run trail for 5 days. We found a campsite at Little Beaver Lake (luckily) and were good to go. This particular campsite/trailhead allowed for excellent access to nearby trails and Lake Superior. From here we launched most of our daily runs. I'll write about our destination runs, as some of our shorter trips were just to wake up in the morning without the aid of coffee and loosen up the legs a little.
Run 1: An exploratory jaunt to get an idea of where we were in relation to the lake, other trails, and to shake out the legs. The section from the campground out to the lake is fairly technical, but once we made it to the lakeshore the trails were moderately packed sand. We continued East on the North Country Trail (NCT), until we saw signs for Trappers Lake Campground and turned South. After some guesswork, we found the trail that took us along the side of Beaver Lake. All in all a very cool run, with a crossing of Beaver Creek on a super wooden bridge. Total of about 9 miles. The trails other than the NCT were hardly traveled, and quite overgrown.
|Vanhoose Crossing Beaver Creek|
|You can just see where the dunes begin at the point where we turned around|
|Atop a dune|
Run 3: This was our biggest day. And the most spectacular. The park ranger we spoke to described this section of the park as the Gem of the Lakeshore. Needless to say, we stopped for a lot of photos. Even cooler, we were able to launch this trip right from our campsite. Starting at Little Beaver Lake trailhead, we ran to the NCT, then turned West and proceeded to run along the sandy/grassy shoreline that slowly climbed to the tops of magnificent cliffs. We were also reworded with a great view of Spray Falls (I think this was my single most favorite visual), a waterfall that cascades off the top of a clif and into Lake Superior. Continuing Westward, we reached Chapel Beach (again we were the only two souls on the beach) and took some pictures, checked out Chapel Rock and then continued down the NCT towards Mosquito campground. On the way to the campground, we passed Grand Portal Point, an exposed area on top of the Pictured Rocks that offered some stunning views. Upon reaching Mosquito River, we found a bridge across, and luckily chose the right trail to take us to Mosquito Falls, then to Chapel parking lot (no water) and then headed past Chapel Falls down to Chapel Beach again and back to our campsite via the NCT, essentially making a lollipop-style loop. Total Distance, just shy of 23 miles. Terrain went from technical with roots, to flat out fast buffed out trail.
|Just an awesome route|
|Spray Falls behind me|
|Vanhoose thinking about going for a swim|
|View from Chapel Beach|
|At Grand Portal Point|
|Pictured Rocks namesake|
|Along the Lakeshore with Grand Island just off the coast|
|Miner's Castle (photo Ben Vanhoose)|
Overall, the experience was tremendous. It was somewhat surreal that there were so few people on the trails. That being said, it was peak season! I can't wait to go back, hopefully show some more people some of these amazing views, its so spectacular you just want to share it with people. Much credit to Ben Vanhoose for dreaming up this trip.
|A few roots (photo Ben Vanhoose)|
There are a few more runs that I still want to do. I am curious what the NCT is like from Mosquito River to Miners Castle - the cliffs and trails in this area occasionally fall into the lake, so who knows what the trail is like. I also would love to explore Beaver Basin Wilderness area more. Lastly, being so close to Grand Island, its tempting to take the Ferry to the island and explore some of the trails that are used by the Grand Island Marathon (Great Lakes Endurance). I think another trip is in order!