Grand Portal Point is one of the landmarks of the famous Pictured Rocks cliffs in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
It’s one of the Pictured Rocks overlooks that you’ll want to stop for to take in the vast views of Lake Superior when you are hiking the Chapel Loop Trail!
The way to see Grand Portal Point by foot
Grand Portal Point is one of the highlights on Pictured Rocks boat tours, so it’s possible to see Grand Portal Point by boat.
It’s also possible to see it by foot, and you will get a different viewpoint of it compared to seeing it when you’re on a cruise!
Seeing Grand Portal Point by foot will require a little bit of effort.
There’s a hiking trail to get there.
It’s around 4.3 miles one way from the nearest parking lot to Grand Portal Point. (That is the direction that passes by Chapel Beach first.)
To get to Grand Portal Point, you’ll be doing what’s commonly called the Chapel Loop Trail. Doing this hike as a loop will be 9-10+ miles.
And there’s much more to see than just Grand Portal Point!
Chapel Loop Trail is THE hike to do if you want to see the Pictured Rocks cliffs by foot.
So you’ll be able to see many more unique rock formations with this hike.
And, part of the loop includes waterfalls too.
Consider it one of the best hikes in Pictured Rocks!
More photos below!
Backpacking the North Country Trail
It also goes through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for around 40 miles.
The NCT also goes past Grand Portal Point, and there are backcountry campsites near the Pictured Rocks cliffs.
On one side, there’s the Chapel Beach backcountry campground that’s around 1.3 miles from Grand Portal Point.
On the other side, there’s the Mosquito River backcountry campground that’s around 2.7 miles from Grand Portal Point.
IMPORTANT: If you're going camping, read about Michigan's campfire warning!
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PHOTOS of what you’ll see on your hike to Grand Portal Point!
The sun’s lighting onto the lake isn’t the best in these pictures.
I was at Grand Portal Point at around 6pm in the middle of July.
At this time, the sunset was past 9:30pm.
So to get to Grand Portal Point, you start from the Chapel Mosquito area parking. For google maps, you can make the Chapel Basin parking lot your destination. The general area of Grand Portal Point is also on google maps.
Once you’re in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park, you’ll look for signs to the Chapel Mosquito area.
This is a popular trail and the parking lot might be full when you go.
If you see cars parked on the road before you even get to the parking lot, you can take your chances and drive all the way to the parking lot to see if anyone’s left recently, or if anyone will be leaving shortly.
Otherwise, you might have to park a bit further from the parking lot and then walk a little extra just to get to the parking lot and trailhead.
So when you’re doing this hike as a loop, you can go in either direction.
Basically, you can go from the trailhead to Chapel Beach to Mosquito Beach back to the trailhead.
Or you can go in the other direction, from the trailhead to Mosquito Beach to Chapel Beach back to the trailhead.
The Pictured Rocks cliffs are between the 2 beaches.
I went to Chapel Beach first, so that will reflect the order of what’s seen below. This is in the counter clockwise direction, and it means following the Chapel Falls Trail first.
So doing it in this direction, you’ll take the same trail to Chapel Falls.
You’ll start the trail, pass by some waterfall overlooks, and then you’ll keep walking on the trail which will take you to Lake Superior!
You’ll then pass by Chapel Rock (the rock with a tree growing on it) and Chapel Beach (a sandy beach where you can see small waterfalls flowing into Lake Superior).
From the trailhead to Chapel Beach is a little over 3 miles, maybe closer to 3.5 miles walking to the other end of the beach.
You can walk along the beach some for a bit of a beach walk, and then you can continue on with the hiking trail.
So once you leave Chapel Beach, you’ll follow the hiking trail that will generally go along the Lake Superior shoreline. There will be a number of spots where you can veer off and take a short trail to overlooks to see the Pictured Rocks cliffs!
From Chapel Beach to Grand Portal Point might be around 1.3 miles, but you might want to make a few stops along the way! So it could take a bit longer than you might expect!
And then you’ll see a sign for Grand Portal Point! (The only landmark that I saw marked along the cliff trail.)
It’s somewhat of a wide area so there are a few different small little paths that you can take to get to the overlook.
Enjoy the views at Grand Portal Point!!
And then you can continue hiking to see more Pictured Rocks cliffs!
And that’s a bit of what you’ll see with a hike to Grand Portal Point!
See more of the best hiking in Pictured Rocks!
If you’re interested in Grand Portal Point, you may also be interested in these Pictured Rocks activities:
- Chapel Rock
- Chapel Falls
- Twelvemile Beach campground
- Miners Falls
- Munising Falls
- Little Beaver Lake campground
- Grand Sable Dunes overlook
- Sable Falls
See more of Pictured Rocks:
- Pictured Rocks beaches
- Pictured Rocks waterfalls
- More things to do in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
See more of the UP:
- Lake of the Clouds overlook
- Stops to make on the drive from Munising to Marquette
- Stops to make on a circle the UP road trip
- Hiking in the Porcupine Mountains
- Hiking in Marquette
- The bubbling big spring: Kitch-iti-kipi
HAPPY HIKING TO GRAND PORTAL POINT!
Here are some ideas for an Upper Peninsula road trip!
The most important places in the UP to know about are Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and the bubbling Big Spring of Kitch-iti-kipi.
Make it a Michigan camping trip to remember by going camping near Lake Superior.
Lighthouses are also a thing, so stop by one of the Lake Superior lighthouses (or many more!), like Whitefish Point and/or Crisp Point. You can also go to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum to explore why Lake Superior has a reputation for being Shipwreck Coast and the Graveyard of the Great Lakes.
Many people don't make it over to the western part of the Upper Peninsula. But if you want to, you will want to know about Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Then, on your way back down south, you can make a detour to go to Mackinac Island (ferry required) or Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. (Or, you can do these things on your way up north!)
Read the details: Best places to visit in the Upper Peninsula
Take care when camping!
Message from the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources:
Michigan is currently experiencing unprecedented hot and dry conditions, causing extreme fire danger.
While we desperately await some much-needed rainfall, it's important to note that you could be the difference between a campfire and a wildfire.
We strongly suggest you refrain from any outdoor burning at this time.
If you do decide to have a campfire, be sure to:
- Keep a water source next to your campfire.
- Properly extinguish your campfire when you are finished by dousing with water and stirring dirt in with a shovel.
- Use the back of your hand to detect if heat is still coming from the fire or ring. If you can feel heat, the fire is not out. Douse and stir again.
- Spray down the metal ring of your campfire. The heat from that can cause dry grass to catch fire.
- Never leave your fire unattended, not even for a minute.
Read more from the State of Michigan.
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