Au Sable Light Station, Grand Marais

#3 of 9 in Things to do in Grand Marais
Landmark · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Au Sable Light is an active lighthouse in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore west of Grand Marais, Michigan off H-58. Until 1910, this aid to navigation was called "Big Sable Light" (not to be confused with Big Sable Point Light near Ludington, Michigan on Lake Michigan or Little Sable Point Light south of Pentwater, Michigan).HistoryThe Au Sable Light Station was built in 1874 on Au Sable Point, a well known hazard on Lake Superior's "shipwreck coast". The Au Sable Point reef is a shallow ridge of sandstone that in places is only below the surface and extends nearly into Lake Superior. The Au Sable Point reef was one of the greatest dangers facing ships coasting along the south shore of Lake Superior during the early shipping days when keeping land in sight was the main navigational method. The Au Sable Point reef was known as a "ship trap" that ensnared many ships, including the passenger ship Lady Elgin which was stranded there in 1859.The shoreline in this area is considered one of North America's most beautiful, "but in the 1800s it was considered one of the most deadly because of unpredictable features below the surface and violent storms and blinding fogs above." The reef extends nearly a mile out as a ridge of sandstone a few feet below the surface. The shallow water caught many a vessel following the shore. Turbulence was common when the lake was "pushed in by violent storms out of the north and northwest." Thick fogs resulted form the mix of frigid lake air and warmth from the sand dunes. "As early as 1622, French explorers called the region 'most dangerous when there is any storms'."
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Au Sable Light Station reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
91 reviews
  • We hiked from Log Slide Overlook. The views of the lake were beautiful. The trail was easy and not heavily trafficked liked many of the trails further west in the park. Highly recommend this hike.  more »
  • Love Love Love this hike. Plan on picnicking at the light house. On the way back, go down to the beach off the Shipwreck steps about a half mile from the light house on the trail. When you get to the....  more »
  • It's more of a short walk down a gravel road than a hike but the scenery is pretty awesome. I especially like it when the lake is lower so you cacn see more of the shipwrecks along the shore. Water was high this year and you could only see one shipwreck but in past years when the water is down, you can walk the entire shore and see numerous different wrecks. Very cool place!
  • Very large and well maintained trail out to the lighthouse. Beautiful views along the way and even better once you make it out there. Definitely worth the hike and will absolutely be doing it again!

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