• Indianhead Point stands tall along the Pictured Rocks. Photo copyright Craig Blacklock

    Pictured Rocks

    National Lakeshore Michigan

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    Grand Sable Dunes are rapidly eroding into Sable Creek and Lake Superior. The area from the Ghost Forest Trail north to Lake Superior then along the shoreline to the west side of Sable Creek is temporarily closed. Follow closure signs for your safety. More »

Ice Climbing

Spectacular ice columns shine along the trees.

Ice curtains near Sand Point Road

NPS photo / Ed Lasich

Ice climbing is becoming a popular winter sport at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. With ample lake effect snow, numerous waterfalls, porous sandstone cliffs, and the water which seeps out of the rock layers, curtains and columns of ice are common.

Snow and ice are generally present by the second or third week in December and remain until late March. While ice frequently forms along the Pictured Rocks cliffs above Lake Superior, these areas are not recommended for climbing due to hazardous exposure to the lake.

The most accessible ice columns are found along the Pictured Rocks escarpment between Munising Falls and Sand Point along Sand Point Road.

Sand Point columns and blue ice curtains are 20-50 feet high. Parking is located at Sand Point Beach or at Munising Falls. The Sand Point Road is narrow with no shoulder; therefore, parking is prohibited along Sand Point Road.

Please note that Munising Falls is closed to ice climbing.

Additional columns are located at Miners Falls and on the east side of the Miners Basin.

Miners Falls is a 40 foot column. Access requires a three mile ski or snowshoe trek in from the end of the plowed road at the junction of Carmody and Miners Castle Roads.

Miners basin falls is located 1.2 miles north of Miners Falls on the east side of the escarpment. Travel to this column is over land.

Other popular areas for climbing are on Grand Island National Recreation Area, which is administered by the Hiawatha National Forest. Grand Island ice curtains are accessed from Grand Island Landing off M-28.

Travel between Sand Point and the thumb portion of Grand Island is not recommended due to frequent hazardous ice conditions caused by lake currents.

When setting belay points from above remember it is your responsibility to preserve and protect vegetation and other natural features. Secure belay ropes to trees with a diameter larger than 8 inches and growing well back from the edge.
 
For more information
Ice Climbing and Winter Camping (pdf)

 

Did You Know?

Bear claw scars on the smooth bark of an American beech tree.

Bear claw marks can be seen on the trunks of American beech trees because the bark is so smooth. Bears climb trees for safety and to eat beech nuts. The non-native beech bark disease is sweeping through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, killing many beech trees. Trees scarred with bear claw marks will be harder to find. More...