“The least visited National Park in the lower 48 offers unmatched solitude in an unspoiled wilderness
— AB CD
Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Isle Royale offers an experience of remote solitude that's difficult to find in the lower 48, particularly east of the Rocky Mountains. Access is difficult (ferry, seaplane) but worth the trip... it's part of the adventure. Visitors have access to 165 miles of trails and a number of inland lakes, ponds, and rivers.
Isle Royale is closed November through mid-April, generally - but access can be limited in late spring still with heavy lake ice.
distance of 40.1 miles does NOT include additional distance to established campsites, which will generally add 1.0-1.5 miles per day to your hike.
The Greenstone Ridge Trail
bisects the island, along its roughly 45-mile long spine. It provides access to the interior of the island and to many of the lakes and sites. Starting from Windigo Visitor Center, follow the trail towards Island Mine. This is a first stop and potential option for setting up camp on night 1.
There are no established campsites ON the Greenstone Ridge Trail
, but they are located up side-trails. They are generally steep descents and will require backtracking each morning... be prepared for a steep 'wake-up' hike each morning.
As you continue along the Greenstone Ridge Trail
, you'll pass Lake Desor (camping available), Hatchet Lake (camping available), and Chickenbone Lake (camping available), before dropping down along the Daisy Farm Trail. Dispersed camping is available, but very difficult in most areas due to the dense old growth forests and not recommended for anyone but the most experienced navigators. Daisy Farm offers shelters on a first-come, first-served basis.
From the Daisy Farm Trail, you'll join up with the Rock Harbor Trail which will pass Three Mile Campground (shelters available) and the Rock Harbor Campground (shelters available), before ending at the Rock Harbor Visitor Center.
This hike is easier than attempting the Minong Ridge Trail
, which can be unmarked and has limited water supplies. The Greenstone Ridge Trail
allows you to walk the distance of the island and take in all of the natural wonders of Isle Royale, including beautiful lakes, stunning views from open rock ridges, and lush, old-growth forests.
Keep your eyes out for moose! They can be dangerous in the wrong situation, so be prepared and know how to handle a close encounter.
Flora & Fauna
Wolves (only 3 remain - 2015 Winter Study) and Moose are the big attraction on the island.
History & Background
Isle Royale is home to the worlds longest continuous study of any predator-prey system in the world (wolf-moose) --- Winter Study 2015 is the 57th year.