Tent Sites
Fires Allowed
Pets Unknown
Water Unknown
About Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Backcountry Sites

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore's backcountry offers opportunities for solitude, inspiration, physical challenge, and renewal. There are nearly 100 miles of trails in the park that can take you to some beautiful places. The formally named "Lakeshore Trail", now referred to as the portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail, runs 42 miles through the park. Forests, dunes, beaches, and great views can all be experienced along the trail.

If you plan to camp/spend the night in the park's backcountry, a permit is required. Permits are available in advance or in person. Reservations are not required, but are recommended. Reservation requests must be received at least 30 days before the start of the trip. Reservations are accepted beginning January 1 of each year.

Backcountry campers must stay in specific backcountry campgrounds as noted on their permit. Campsites are located at two to five mile intervals along the trail. Each campground has a specific capacity; individual campsites within each backcountry campground are identified by a numbered post.

Permit fees: $15 for a reservation. $5 per person per night. Once a reservation or permit is issued, fees are non-refundable. Changes to your reservation will result in an additional $15 fee.

There are individual campsites and group campsites. Individual campsites are available for groups of 1-6 people (2 tents or hammocks maximum). Groups of 7-20 people must camp in designated group sites. Maximum three consecutive day stay at any backcountry campground.

National Park Service
Hike In
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Alcohol Allowed
Fires Allowed
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Backcountry Sites is located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan
46.561 N
-86.324 W
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13 Reviews of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Backcountry Sites
Hike in

Was a good spot to stop asking the pictured rocks hike. Also not a bad hike from the parking lot to the west. Had a trash pole and a food locker. The fire ring was a nice little Suprise to cook food. Great view of the lake from the sand dunes but wind was blocked by trees. Tent spots were level. Got spot to Spend the night.

Ranger Review: Renogy Water Filter at Lowney Creek (Pictured Rocks)

Campground Review

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is great for backpackers. We camped at Lowney Creek and parked at the Beaver Lake Basin Overlook. It was a 2 mile hike crossing the beautiful Lowney Creek multiple times. The birds were singing on our hike, we saw toads, and the trail is pretty well maintained and very well marked.

Our campsite was right on the shore of Beaver Lake. This offered ample water for filtering. We were able to watch a blue heron catch a fish and were hearing the loons. The lake is beautiful and definitely suitable for swimming. There are 4 campsites at Lowney Creek with a shared fire ring and a shared bear box for food. There is nice large trees for shade, and a couple of the sites are more secluded than the other two. Nearby about .3 mile is the group site.

The backcountry camping was awesome and I would definitely go back.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time, this time I got to test the Renogy Water Filter pump.

It is a functional pump that works, but isn't all the easy to use, especially by yourself. I found that having at least one person to assist by holding the clean water bottle and to make sure the water inlet hose stays in place. It went even better with three people. Unfortunately for me, this isn't great. 

What I like

  • The flow rate was good. I haven't used it enough to have to back flush, but it's nice they include a syringe to extend the life via back flushing.
  • It is compact. I have some friends with Katadyn filters and those are no better at filtering, but they are much bulkier.
  • It comes with a bag for all the hoses and the filter.

What I don't like

  • The hoses work, but seem low quality. They aren't smooth, but overly rubbery, so stuff sticks to them.
  • To store, you have to remove both hoses
  • It is cumbersome to operate
  • The carbon filter probably improves taste slightly, but you'd have to buy replacements. My Sawyer filtered water tastes fine to me.

Overall, a functional filter that works as well as a filter of this design could work. I'd probably recommend a Sawyer Squeeze before this one though.

Absolutely gorgeous, if a little overused

This hike is stunning. Literally every time it's breathtaking. The trail alternates between young forest, older growth valleys with cascading rivers, beach, and stunning vistas from the cliffs.

Looking up and down the undulating shoreline is unreal, and every time you come out to the cliffside the view is changed and has its own unique features.

I've only done the 12 mile Mosquito Falls to Chapel Rock loop, but this summer I'll be returning to backpack the length of the lakeshore.

The falls are aptly named, so definitely be sure to bring bug spray (though the bugs weren't miserable in May so don't be scared off!)

I'd also suggest a poncho or similar, the weather on the lake can change quickly from bright sun to rumbling clouds.

The sites themselves suffer from abuse by rude hikers, waste isn't always taken care of properly, nor is used TP and trash. (This might not be systematic of everything, just the sites we saw that weekend.)

North country trail back country camping

Awesome and beautiful trails. We did 5 days and a 60 mile trek along the trail and the views were unbelievable. Fresh water you can filter along the trail but plan ahead. Designated camping so plan your hike out in advance. Well established sites with enough room to spread out if you book the group sites. Driving to hurricane river or little beaver lake would be good. You could also park at little beaver lake and hike around the lakes. The beach there is nice. Or go to twelve miles beach and hike to the lighthouse.

Thanksgiving at Lake Superior

Spent days/2 nights during thanksgiving week, it was tremendous!

Great time

On a 5 day hiking trip exploring the lakeshore and parts of the north country trail we stayed all along the lakeshore in tents. It rained some but how cool it was made up for it. HIGHLY recommended.

Beaver Creek Backcoutry

While hiking the backcoutry trails at Pictured Rocks, I spent 3 days at Beaver Creek. It has 5 campsite and 1 communal fire ring. While sitting at the fire ring at dusk, you can see the sun setting on Lake Superior. It's centrally locates, so you can head east or west and visit everywhere. The farthest I went was to Chapel Lake, and that was a half day hike there and back.

Backcountry permit required

Backcountry permit required, not free but I forget the cost. Absolutely amazing park but some of the drop-offs are a little scary…don’t drink alcohol & camp here. There are about a dozen backcountry sites to choose from, I think all of them qualify as backpacking to get to the sites (more than a mile) though the trails aren’t very difficult and are easy to follow. Since it’s backcountry you have to bring water purification methods (or your own water) and don’t expect bathrooms or cell service. Worth getting sand in everything to stay here. Camping on the bluffs is like nothing else, highly recommended!


This site is the epitome of what many imagine Pictured Rocks camping to look like. The site is situated along Lake Superior with beach access and dramatic views. It serves as the perfect base camp for shoreline exploring & can be accessed by a moderately difficult hike. I'd recommend bringing warm clothes, even when visiting in mid-summer, as the wind blowing off shore has a chill to it.

Little Beaver Lake Backcountry

This is another easy-hike site located in the park. The site is situated not along Lake Superior, but Little Beaver Lake--although the name can be misleading. The lake itself is rather expansive and the campsite is situated along the shore, offering beautiful views of the calm water. This site is great for first timers or individuals seeking a mild hike. It is also a refuge from the Lake Superior gusts of wind. The only con of this seemingly perfect site is bugs, so bring a fair amount of repellent!