You will find me frequently writing about the Lake Superior South Shore. I am lucky that my family had a cabin on the shining Big-Sea-Water. It was a glorious place to grow up, with an expansive quartz sand beach and crystal clear water. There is a creek on the western side of the property where we would catch minnows and leeches with our fingers. In late summer, blueberries grow everywhere; my mom would make blueberry pancakes with pure maple syrup. My fondest memories stem from this place.
So yesterday, my friend Dani and decided to hike the trail above the Mawikwe Sea Caves. This last summer we took our kids up to Cornucopia (locals call it Corny) to kayak the caves, and Dani had never been on the trail above. Normally you would park your car at Meyers Beach, but we parked at my super-secret location because my ankle doesn’t like long hikes. This would shorten the hike 1.5 miles so the total was less than 4 miles. Perfect for my arthritic ankle! The terrain on this trail can be considered a little rough, you will travel up and down about 10 ravines, the first probably the worst. Large steps, reinforced with logs were 2-3 feet high. But the views are well worth it. This was out first view of Gitche-Gumee.
As we approached the caves, you could hear the swells crashing against the Devils Island Formation, a thinly bedded series of fine to medium-grained sandstone deposited over one billion years ago. From the water, you can see amazing cross-bedding and ripple marks, uncovered from centuries of erosion.
The most fascinating erosional remnant on this hike is a large crevice in the bedrock jutting out into the lake, with two land bridges that you can walk over. One has a bridge over land for the faint of heart, while the smaller and definitely more scary, does not. I chose to take the bridge. I am guessing that this crack was created by thousands of years of frost wedging where water gets into joints in the rock, freezes, expands and cracks the rock. After time, Mother Nature wins, the rock breaks and mass wasting occurs.
As you follow the trail in an northeasterly direction, the views of the caves are astounding. Some portions of the path take you to dangerously breathtaking vistas. There is a life float back by the crevice should someone fall off the cliff, although it would be a long, cold mile long swim back to the beach! If you bring children, keep them close to you.
I did this same hike last winter with my daughter on a beautiful March day. My ankle did not like that hike; it was a warm day that became cold when the sun went down and my snowshoes froze up. My ankle didn’t like that! I enjoyed this late fall hike immensely. I was able to access areas I couldn’t in the winter, allowing for better views of the caves. I highly recommend this hike, and would urge you to do it in the spring or fall when it’s cool and the bug population is low. There is a fun geocache in the area too!