Four Days, Three Nights of Pristine Adventure
Hikers love the Porcupine Mountains.
If you’re looking for the great escape—from noise, stress and the busyness of life back home—look no further than the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness. An adventure into Wilds of Michigan is just what you need.
People come to the Porcupine Mountains for so many reasons. Breathtaking waterfalls and Lake Superior shoreline. Fresh air. A rich area history. Pristine wilderness. A view of the wildlife. Challenging adventure, or just scenic serenity. With 87 miles of the most striking trails in the Midwest, the Porcupine Mountains are an ideal destination for hikers of all skill levels and experience. Whether you’re a seasoned trail-trekker or a first-time wilderness explorer, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness has a trail (and an adventure) with your name on it. The 21 mile Lake Superior shoreline offers peaceful tranquility and unforgettable sunsets.
One of the great things about a vacation in the Porcupine Mountains is the flexibility. Looking to experience wilderness but still hoping for a shower at the end of the day? The area is home to a variety of lodging options, from cabins to resorts and everything in between. After you’ve cleaned up, treat yourself to some northern hospitality at one of the area’s great restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a wild trip where you completely escape from it all or if you’d prefer crisp sheets and a soft pillow at the end of the day, the Porcupine Mountains have got you covered.
Here’s a sample of what a four-day, three-night hiking trip to the Porcupine Mountains might look like.
Day 1: Arrive in the Porcupine Mountains
4pm – Arrive and check in at your motel, cottage, cabin or resort.
You’ll find great lodging options throughout the Porcupine Mountains area. Three communities offer a variety of lodging options to fit any travel budget:
Inn Town Motel – 314 Chippewa Street – 906-884-2100
Peterson’s Chalet Cottages – 22608 Lakeshore Road – 906-884-4230
Scott’s Superior Inn and Cabins – 22554 Lakeshore Road – 906-884-4866
Sunshine Motel, Cabin and Campground – 24077 State Highway M-64 W – 906-884-2187
Superior Shores Resort – 26156 State Highway 64W – 906-884-2653
5pm – Head to dinner at one of the area’s many restaurants.
For a complete list of restaurants, click here.
Day 2: Discovering the Woods
8am – Breakfast.
If you’re going to tackle the Porkies’ rugged trails (or even the tamer trails) start the morning off right with a hearty breakfast at an area breakfast spot. If you’re planning on an all-day hike, consider packing a lunch or having one of the restaurants pack one for you.
9am – Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park hike.
Head to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and explore some of the 90 miles of trails that run throughout the park. The park is home to one of the largest virgin wildernesses left in the U.S. and offers trails of varying lengths and difficulties. For this morning’s hike, get familiar with some of the park’s more famous attractions. Entering the park from the east or west (Ontonagon, Silver City or White Pine), take Highway 107 and continue straight through the park’s entrance towards Lake of the Clouds. Park your car near the Escarpment Trail, in the last lot along the park’s main road.
Make your way to the Lake of the Clouds observation area and snap some pictures of the park’s most recognizable feature. The silhouettes of the ancient Porcupine Mountains surround this clear, gorgeous lake. Once you’ve got your fill of the lake, consider your next move. Head north, up towards the Buckshot landing, and explore the 17-mile Lake Superior Trail. Following the sometimes sandy, sometimes rocky beach, this trail offers stunning views of Lake Superior and a glimpse of the towering hills. For a stiff challenge, try hiking a portion (or all) of the Escarpment Trail, which follows a ridge from the Lake of the Clouds parking area to the Government Peak trailhead. While this trail is challenging because of significant elevation changes, it offers sheer cliffs and scenic vistas of the Lake of the Clouds.
1pm – Another adventure.
Head back to your car stop at the picnic tables near the Lake of the Clouds for a refreshing lunch.
Once you’re ready to hit the trails again, consider taking the trail you didn’t choose for your morning hike—either the Lake Superior Trail along the beach or the Escarpment Trail. If you’re ready to move on to a different area of the park, take your car back towards the park entrance to Cuyahoga Creek and the trailhead for the Overlook Trail. This popular three-mile loop offers outstanding vistas of the park. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, such as peregrine falcons, black bears or even a porcupine! If you want to get one more hike in before supper, take the turnoff from the Overlook Trail for Trap Falls, located about 3 miles from the parking area on the park’s main drive.
6pm – Dinner.
Enjoy a hearty U.P. dinner at a Porcupine Mountains restaurant.
9pm- Catch a sunset.
Head back to the park or to your lakeside lodging to catch the sunset on the beach, then build a campfire and make s’mores. Stay up late chatting about the day’s hikes and you might even catch northern lights over Lake Superior.
Day 3: Mirror Lake and Waterfalls
8am – Wake up early.
Every hiker needs a great breakfast before a day of adventure. Wake up early and stop in at your breakfast spot to prep for another great day exploring the forest.
10am – Head out for the hike.
Take Highway 107 into the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, but make a left turn onto South Boundary Road. For your first waterfall of the day, stop at the trailhead for Nonesuch Falls, a small waterfall on the Little Iron River. The falls are 10 feet high and water runs down a 45-degree angle in the bedrock. If you’re looking for a bit of history, continue down the trail for about a mile to the ruins of the Nonesuch mining town. Here you’ll find crumbling ruins of a few buildings. Scour the ground for remnants of the copper mining operation that once thrived there.
12pm – Summit Peak hike.
Park at the Summit Peak Scenic Area, deep in the heart of the park’s hardwood forest. After a quick lunch, take the 2.1-mile South Mirror Lake Trail towards the highest lake in the park. Take in scenic views of this crystal clear lake or dive in! On your way to Mirror Lake, consider taking the side trip to Summit Peak. At 1,958 feet, this peak is the highest point in the park. A 40-foot observation tower provides outstanding views of the surrounding area. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands and Copper Peak, along with a panorama of the Little Carp River Valley.
If you’re looking for waterfalls, take the South Boundary Road south and west towards the Little Carp River Road. Here you’ll find three beautiful falls: Greenstone, Trappers and Overlooked. Once you’re on the trail, you’ll encounter the rush of Overlooked Falls, only a few hundred feet from the parking area. Try your luck at brook trout fishing in this portion of the park, so come prepared! A half-mile further down the trail you’ll find the slightly larger Greenstone Falls. The falls is 20 feet wide, and slightly less than 10 feet high. Continue down the Little Carp River Trail another two miles and you’ll find Trappers Falls, the largest waterfall on the Little Carp River. A long, gentle slide, you’ll watch the river spread out as its slides down the slope.
6pm – Dinner.
8pm – Evening relaxation.
If you’re tired from a long day in the park, it might be time to hit the hay. If you’re still ready for some entertainment, head over to Black Bear Lanes in White Pine and bowl a few games.
Day 4: Scenic Waterfalls and a Final Hike
8am – Breakfast.
10am – See three stunning waterfalls.
Take South Boundary Road and pull into the parking area near the turnoff for Highway 519. Easily accessed from the road, you’ll find three of the Porcupine Mountains’ most spectacular waterfalls. Part of the Presque Isle River’s spectacular final dash to Lake Superior, get out your cameras and take off your shoes at Manabezho Falls, a spectacular 25-foot drop in the river. Late in the summer the falls become segmented, but when the river is full these falls thunder all the way across the wide cliff. Also nearby are Manido and Nawadaha Falls.
Before heading home, take a final stroll along the Lake Superior Trail. Go beachcombing for driftwood, agates, rocks of every color and shape and other surprising treasures. Go wading and enjoy some of the most pristine waterscapes in the Midwest.
1pm – Lunch.
3pm – Hit the road towards home—until your next Porcupine Mountains adventure!
On the way home, try these suggested routes for great sights and scenery:
Southbound – Drive the meandering road around Lake Gogebic.
Westbound – Check out Little Girl’s Point, Lost Lake Park, Hiawatha the World’s Tallest Indian and Interstate Falls.
Eastbound – Visit the shops and galleries in Bruce Crossing, Watton and Covington.
*Vehicle permit required for entering the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – A Michigan Recreation Passport is $11 for MI residents, $5 for a resident motorcycle pass, $30.50 for a non-resident annual pass and $8.40 for a non-resident one-day pass. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.