Munising Ice Formations

Munising Michigan is located at the western end of the sandstone cliffs that dominate the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore. Every winter, water seeping over and through the sandstone freezes forming ice columns, curtains and other formations. Ice climbers flock to the area to tackle the ice, but even if you do not climb the ice formations are a fascinating sight.

Sand Point Road

The most accessible ice can be found along Sand Point road, beyond Munising falls. The road roughly parallels the cliffs of Pictured Rocks. The formations are generally not visible from the road, and there are no signs, so you will have to do some exploring. Also you cannot park along the road, so you will have to do some walking. There is a parking area at Sand Point, and from here you can walk back up the road. Take a left into the woods at any likely spot, such as a trail left by someone else, or evidence of water flowing down from the cliffs.

The cliffs are only a few hundred feet from the road, and there is a rough natural trail at the base of the cliffs, but climbing up to the cliffs may be a challenge in the snow and ice. Even when there is a trail to follow it may be quite icy, and the terrain under the snow may be uneven. There are several ice columns and ice curtains along this stretch. Below are pictured three different ice columns, two different curtains and some miscellaneous formations. The pictures were taken in either February 2003 or January 2006.

Grand Island

Grand Island sits in Munising Bay. In summer there is a ferry service that takes you to the island, but in winter the bay usually freezes over and you can walk, ski or snowmobile out to the island.

Numerous ice formations form on the sandstone cliffs shores of the island. The most accessible ice is on the east side of the island opposite Sand Point, but there is ice all around the island. All the pictures below are of the cliffs opposite Sand Point and were taken in February 2003.

Check with the locals on the ice conditions before crossing.

Beyond Sand Point

Shortly before the Sand Point parking area, Sand Point road veers away from the cliffs. A large marsh fills the area between the road and the cliffs, and reaching the cliffs now requires a hike of about 1 mile along the trail that connects to the Lakeshore/North Country Trail. Again there are many ice formations to be found along this more remote stretch of cliffs, and visiting them requires a bit of work.

All of the images are of ice found south of the junction of the stairway that climbs up to the Lakeshore/North Country Trail. There is of course ice north of here, and the really adventurous can find ice throughout Pictured Rocks.

The Munising Cross Country Ski trail's G loop travels along the cliffs above all the formations pictured below. You will not really be able to see them from above, but you can ski to the stairway on the Lakeshore trail and use that to descend to the base of the cliffs.


In the winter the waterfalls freeze forming ice columns. Even very small waterfalls can produce very impressive columns as weeks worth of water accumulate.

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 25-Mar-2008 16:04:12 MDT.