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Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (11) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Wilderness hiking along the heights and shore of the Great Lake Superior.


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Map Key

21.2

Miles

34.1

KM

Point to Point

1,641' 500 m

High

620' 189 m

Low

1,463' 446 m

Up

1,444' 440 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (1°)

14%

Max Grade (8°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

With an excellent balance of high rocky ridges, low wooded riverways, gorgeous inland lakes, and the weathered shores of the Great Lake Superior, the Porcupine Mountains State Park is a hikers dream.

The Upper Midwestern United States isn't home to many vast swaths of wilderness so the Porkies are a real gem. This loop takes hikers into a wide variety of zones the area has to offer and provides high country views as well as lowland woods, water, and wildlife. For the adventurer willing to put in the work to get to all these parts of the park, the reward is well worth it.

In addition to great views you'll experience plenty of quality camping, backcountry lakes, fishing, bird and wildlife options abound as you make your way along quality trail tread past some of the finest scenery the Midwest has to offer.

Description

The Lake of the Clouds trailhead is an excellent jumping off point for an excursion into the Porkies. From here, you start out with a short climb to the iconic Lake of the Clouds overlook. You'll share this with visitors of all walks of life, but once you leave the overlook and head into the woods prepare for the solitude and quiet the Northwoods is known for.

Many excellent loops can be formed within the boundaries of the Porkies, but maximizing the available terrain and ecosystems can be had with this loop. From the large inland Mirror Lake to the Little Carp River, the windy shores of Lake Superior, a walk up the "Big" Carp River, and a climb to the Escarpment Ridge promontory gives an excellent overview of what the Porkies have on offer.

The start and end point of the hike, at Lake of the Clouds on the Escarpment Ridge, will provide stellar and expansive views of both Lake of the Clouds and the Great Lake Superior. Drink in these far-reaching experiences and then drop down into the woods, marshes, lakes, and rivers of the heart of the Porkies.

The trails in the center of the wilderness focus on the park's micro-ecosystem. Take in the individual trees, plants and fauna around you. The views are closer and tighter in the forest, but a more intimate perspective can be gained with your surroundings. Cross creeks and rivers on bridges or via a ford and truly live in the moment of the backcountry.

Be sure to camp one night on the Great Lake Superior and ponder its mass from the rocky shore. Hear the waves breaking against the beach as you lie in your shelter at night realizing you are but a small part of a vast universe.

Once again gain the Escarpment Ridge and take in the breathtaking views on your last day of hiking. Once back at Lake of the Clouds, sip in the beautiful view one last time before making your way out of the park. On your way, make plans to return to enjoy another part of this exceptional landscape sometime in the future.

Flora & Fauna

Flora and fauna in the Porkies are quite abundant. One may witness black bear, fisher, red squirrel, varying hare, red fox, gray wolf, coyote, bobcat, porcupine, striped skunk, and on occasion, moose. And the spring display of wildflowers in May is spectacular and the woodland wildflowers in summer continue this excellence. Coral-root orchids, rattlesnake plantain orchids, and many others. Ferns, clubmosses, lichens, and mosses are also in abundance.

Contacts

Shared By:

samh Haraldson with improvements by TJ Kennedy

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes

#559

Overall
  4.5 from 11 votes
5 Star
55%
4 Star
36%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#3

in Michigan

#559

Overall
1,409 Views Last Month
29,426 Since Apr 22, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

The Big Carp River.
May 28, 2015 near Ontonagon, MI
Enjoy beautiful fall colors at Lake of the Clouds.
Feb 17, 2017 near Ontonagon, MI
Lake of the Clouds from the Mirror Lake Trail
Apr 22, 2015 near Ontonagon, MI
The Big Carp River comes alive in the fall.
Feb 17, 2017 near Ontonagon, MI
Stream crossing  on the Carp River Trail
Apr 22, 2015 near Wakefield, MI
Mirror Lake
Apr 22, 2015 near Wakefield, MI

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

May 12, 2018
Anthony Haamen
Very muddy and swampy at parts. Slows you down considerably. At least in spring time
Oct 1, 2017
Tess Anderson
Backpacking trip with Falcon Outdoor adventures. Escarpment trail, plus an extra loop, and the union springs trail. Ten miles day 1, four miles day... 14mi
Aug 1, 2017
Aaron Muir
Lauren took pinkerton trail. I took the Big Carp River trail to the car. 11mi
Jul 31, 2017
Aaron Muir
11mi
Jul 30, 2017
Aaron Muir
camped by Lily pond. mosquito city here!! 6.1mi
May 26, 2017
Trisha Winn
Summit Peak trail 0.5 South Mirror Lake Trail 1.5: mud and bugs Little Carp River Trail 1.5: nice Beaver Creek Trail 1.2: beautiful! 1.5mi