How to Plan a Michigan Hiking Elopement in the Upper Peninsula

November 11, 2019

With adventure weddings and elopements gaining popularity in the recent years, venturing out into the wild and eloping during your favorite hike in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is such a meaningful way of getting married. The sky is the limit when it comes to Michigan hiking elopement locations, but I usually advise couples to think about the visual aesthetic and the difficulty of the terrain they would like to explore. 

elope in michigan

WHAT ARE HIKING ELOPEMENTS?

Elopement weddings that involve hiking in the great outdoors have been dubbed hiking elopements. The elopement can entirely consist of an all day hiking adventure, or you can spend as little as an hour hiking to your desired Michigan elopement location. The length of the trail is entirely up to you and your level of comfort. At our initial consultation, we will talk about the type of terrain, season, elopement timeline, length and difficulty of the hiking trail you’d like to explore in Michigan. I will then provide you with a  list of hiking trail suggestions we’ll discuss together. 

michigan hiking elopement

HOW TO PLAN A HIKING ELOPEMENT IN MICHIGAN

1. The most beautiful experiences include a bit of a hike, but there are plenty of stunning locations accessible via short trails. If you’re up for an adventure, sky is the limit!

2. If you’d like to bring a few family members along to your adventure elopement spot, make sure everyone will be comfortable walking to the location you select.

3. If you are up for a bit of a hike, you should think about your wedding dress. You can either choose to pack it with you and change before your ceremony (depends what kind of dress you’re planning to wear), or you can simply hike in it. You should take into consideration, that your dress will get dirty during the day.

4. Locations and trails in Pictured Rocks are heavily trafficked over the weekend and during summer/fall months. If you want to have a truly secluded and intimate experience, aim for a week day.

5. If you’re thinking about throwing an intimate wedding celebration with a couple dozen guests, think about renting a cabin/Airbnb near Pictured Rocks to host your ceremony/reception. You can then drive to Pictured Rocks or Black Rocks for an adventure wedding portrait session without creating a logistical nightmare for the guests.

6. If your wedding timeline just doesn’t allow you to disappear for several hours, opt for a pre-/post-wedding photo session, before or after your actual wedding day. Choose your favorite location in the Upper Peninsula without having to rush back to your guests on your wedding day.

pictured rocks national lakeshore

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR MICHIGAN HIKING ELOPEMENT?

ELOPEMENT ITEMS:

  • RINGS
  • VOWS
  • MARRIAGE LICENSE
  • SPARKLING WINE/CHAMPAGNE
  • SPEAKER
  • CHARCUTERIE/CHEESE BOARD FOR SNACKS
  • SENTIMENTAL ITEMS (PHOTOS, LETTERS FROM YOUR FAMILY)

HIKING ITEMS:

  • HIKING SHOES/BOOTS
  • RAIN PONCHO
  • WARM JACKET
  • HIKING SOCKS
  • LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING BACKPACK
  • QUICK DRYING HIKING PANTS
  • MATCHES/LIGHTER
  • HEADLAMP
  • BUG SPRAY
  • SUNSCREEN
  • BLANKET

elope in michigan

HIKING AND ELOPEMENT ATTIRE

BRIDE:

  • WEDDING DRESS (Check out inspiration here)
  • COMFORTABLE SHOES/HIKING BOOTS
  • JEWELRY
  • VEIL
  • MAKEUP
  • MIRROR
  • FLOWERS

GROOM:

  • SHIRT
  • WEDDING SUIT
  • TIE
  • DRESS SOCKS
  • BELT
  • ACCESSORIES
  • BOUTONNIERE

elopement vows upper peninsula wedding

HIKING ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS IN MICHIGAN’S UPPER PENINSULA

Black Rocks, Marquette

This amazing dramatic coastline near Marquette reminds me of Hawaii and is an absolute stunner for an adventure elopement or a simple engagement session. The intimate beach can be a great setting for a private elopement and the black rock coastline looks like dramatic slate. It is easily the number one for your romantic portrait session and an exhilarating coast dive into chilly waters of Lake Superior right after!

michigan hiking elopement

Porcupine Mountains, White Pine

Beautiful landscape of woods and lakes with dramatic hilly views – a gorgeous area for a hiking elopement with backpacks an all! The landscape reminds me a bit of the Catskills or mini version of the Smokies. If you are true adventure lovers, you don’t mind to climb hills and exploring new landscapes is your jam, Porcupine Mountains might just be perfect for you two!

Sugarloaf Mountain, near Marquette, Upper Peninsula

Fantastic location with a short easy hike and absolutely stunning views overlooking the Marquette area. The observation deck provides a great platform for the views. While Michigan visitors usually come to Sugarloaf Mountain for the views, the trail itself is covered with hundred year old trees and dramatic rocks that are a unique feature of this Michigan landscape. 

black rocks elopement

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Upper Peninsula

Coastline of dramatic cliffs, gorgeous sandy beaches and turquoise waters is a dreamy setting from spring to fall. If you like the adventure of hiking the trails through woods, coastline and waterfall, or you just like to have a peaceful and private elopement ceremony on the beach, this area has it all! The landscape is so diverse, that you can transform your elopement day into an adventure of exploration on foot or in a kayak.

pictured rocks national lakeshore michigan

A big part of the dramatic coastline of UP’s Pictured Rocks can be seen from the boat and via coastal trails, providing a stunning visual experience for a quintessential Michigan wedding or elopement. Below I have compiled different locations that feature beaches, waterfalls, rugged coastline and the majestic Lake Superior itself.

 

hiking elopement michigan

ALL DAY HIKING ELOPEMENT TIMELINE IN UPPER PENINSULA OF MICHIGAN

The landscape is a prominent element in the elopement photographs, so you should choose an experienced photographer who knows how to work the ever changing lighting conditions and understands composition rules in the wild outdoors. My second advice is, when planning for your elopement day, focus on a personalized approach, meaningful and immersive experience.

 

Noon – Getting ready photos at your rental or hotel in Marquette 

– Photos of wedding attire, accessories, make-up touch up, couple getting ready

– First look

– Cake for breakfast? 🙂

1 pm Travel to Presque Isle Black Rocks, Michigan

1:20 pm Arrival at trailhead

– Hike to Black Rocks cove

– Adventure photos with rocks, woods, beach

2:30 pm Travel to Miners Beach trailhead in Pictured Rocks

4:00 pm Arrive at trailhead and hike to elopement spot

Flexible timeline and order of events:

– Portrait session with Lake Superior, coastline, beach

– Vows on the beach with view of Pictured Rocks

– Charcuterie/cheese board snacks 

– Toast with bubbly and cake

– First dance on the coast

– Fire on the beach

9 pm Sunset

– Sultry session in the waves

upper peninsula elopement photographer

HIKING ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS IN PICTURED ROCKS

Grand Sable Banks and dunes

(depends on final location)

Grand Sable banks and dunes can be accessed via the 1/3 mile (one-way) Dune Trail beginning at the Sable Falls parking area, one mile west of Grand Marais. Be prepared to walk partly uphill in soft sand. Another access point with a steeper climb is from the small parking lot at the far eastern end of Grand Sable Lake on H-58. This area provides views of an inland lake, Lake Superior and majestic dunes on the coastline.

hiking elopement

Log Slide Overlook

(1 mile roundtrip)

The log slide overlook is one of the great scenic overlooks in Pictured Rocks. Accessible from a parking lot with gorgeous views from the steep dune, similar to Grand Sable Banks.

Mosquito Beach

(4 miles roundtrip) Mosquito beach is accessible via a 2 mile long trail and provides a perfect backdrop with dramatic coastline, beach and trees. It also features beautiful sculptured sandstone terraces leading up to the higher cliffs adjacent to this sand beach. The mouth of the Mosquito River is also here.The beach is fairly long, so can accommodate a nice secluded spot for an elopement ceremony.

Chapel Rock and beach

(6 mile roundtrip)

3 mile easy hike from the trailhead through wooded areas to Lake Superior to reach Chapel Rock and the beach, with views of Chapel Lake and beautiful Chapel Falls along the way. 

Miners Castle overlook and beach

(0.5 miles roundtrip)

Miners Castle Trail is a 0.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Munising, Michigan that features a great forest setting and is good for all skill levels. It is one of the most famous landmarks along the Pictured Rocks shoreline, and is the only cliff area in the park accessible by vehicle. From the parking lot, a short paved foot trail leads past interpretive exhibits to breathtaking overlooks of Lake Superior and Grand Island. Stairs and a steeper trail lead to the lower overlook adjacent to Miners Castle.

The beach is accessible through a short sandy trail, and you can choose how far you want to venture. The coastline is gorgeous on both sides of the beach and features intimate nooks perfect for an elopement ceremony.

elope in michigan

Laughing Whitefish Falls

(1 mile roundtrip)

Laughing Whitefish Falls is a 1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Eben Junction, Michigan and features a trail through white pine forest leading to a waterfall. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and snowshoeing and is best used from April until November. The falls can be accessible via a short and easy trail through the woods. Elopement portraits can be done from the bottom of the falls for dramatic views.

(10.1 miles rountrip)

This one is definitely a stunner for an all day adventure! Mosquito Falls and Chapel Falls via Chapel Loop is a 10.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Shingleton, Michigan that features a trail through pine trees with gorgeous views of the lake on the coast. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from April until October. Several hikes are available in this area, depending on what trails you take and how long you wish to walk. Waterfalls into Lake Superior near Chapel Rock. The views of the coast are incredible! There is a good amount of variety along the trail with woods, streams, waterfalls and the incredible views of Lake Superior and Pictured Rocks.

To inquire about Michigan elopement packages or to hop on a complimentary call about your hiking elopement planning, send me a message below.

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