How to get to the Porcupine Mountains
Located on the northmost corner of Upper Peninsula, Porcupine Mountains are usually accessed either from the Northern area of Michigan. After crossing the Mackinac Bridge, it is about a day's journey from the Lower Peninsula. Duluth and Greenbay routes are ideal for getting to the Porcupine Mountains as well, and they are well connected with the highways, so that saves hours of driving on long routes. Since the weather here is quite unforgiving, you might as well consider RV camping in the Porcupine Mountains. However, there are no arrangements like RV campgrounds inside the State Park, and you might need to keep it to the cabins or tents inside the park. Moreover, there are numerous RV camping sites in the backcountry, and you just need to log into the visitor's register for camping there.
The unforgiving winters here can cost you all the fun. So, avoid visiting the Porcupine Mountains anytime between November to March. In the months of May and June, the blackflies season here is on a high. Anytime from July to October is perfect and even the temperature around Lake Superior during these months is tolerable. For hiking in the Porcupine Mountains, October is the perfect time with the weather being cool and the changing season offers a mesmerizing view of the Porkies. Winters are a whole different level of experience in the Porcupine Mountains with the area experiencing 300 meters of snow religiously every year.
Things to do in the Porcupine Mountains
Hiking Trails are a major part of the Porcupine Mountains trip since most of the places here have no motor facilities. Like some of the best experiences of life, even the beauty of the Porkies can best be experienced on foot. Offering 90 miles of the foot trail paths, there is no alternative for the kind of fun that hiking in the Porcupine Mountains offers you. Going on a hiking trail is the best way to explore the far-spreading natural wealth of the region. Since the ridges are worn down and not very sloppy, the backpacking and hiking trails are more about fun and less about labor here. You can go on short 1.2 mile hikes for mere sightseeing or the longer ones that require a few days of camping along the way.
There are trails covering most of the scenically beautiful tourist attractions in the Porcupine Mountains like the Greenstone Falls, South Mirror Lake, Union Spring and even Trap Falls. There are hiking groups of tourists here as well, and you can join them for a more fun-filled hiking experience.
Explore the Summit Peak Ridge
One of the most famous hiking trails in the Porcupine Mountains is the Summit Peak trail. Starting from the South Boundary Road, the trail leads to an observation tower which is located on top of Summit Peak. The Summit Peak is the highest point in the Porcupine Mountains.
The trail is just half a mile long, and since the 1500 feet of elevation is in the form of a plateau, there is no steep climbing which needs to be done. The tower on top is located at an altitude of 1960 feet and the panoramic view from there is as mesmerizing as it can get. The peaks from the Government Ridge in the north blocks a bit of the view but other than that, the green canopy of the forest looks enchanting. Unlike the view of the mountains, the scene might vary a bit here, but it is worth hiking for anyway. The Beaver Creek Trail ascends from the Summit Peak as well and joins the Little Carp River trail near Lake Superior.
Visit Lake of the Cloud
The most beautiful part of your Porcupine Mountains camping expedition will arguably be the Lake of Cloud Overlook Trail which lies to the west of the Escarpment. The lake itself is a picturesque location with numerous peaks surrounding it. There is greenery all around, and the surrounds are serene. The eye soothing view of this lake can also be seen from the hills of the Escarpment Ridge, which is just east of the Lake. The paved path of the Escarpment Peak Trail covers maximum part of the way to the Lake of the Cloud if you start from the North of the Wilderness State Park.
Roam on the Escarpment Peak Trail
The three ridges of the Porcupine Mountains are equally blessed with natural beauty. However, when it comes to the development done by humans, it is the Escarpment Ridge that bags the trophy. 99 out of the 100 campers in the Porcupine Mountains take the Escarpment Trail to flag off their camping expedition. It is because there is a well-paved road running all the way to the top of the Escarpment Ridge. There are two trails running this eight-mile-long ridge, namely- Escarpment Trail and the Big Carp River Trail. The best part is that the entire stretch of these two trails is scenically mesmerizing and every step you take is going to make you want to stop and stare. The cliffs along the ridge offer some exceptionally dramatic view of Michigan. You get to see some of the most beautiful sights like the Big Carp Valley, Lake of the Cloud, etc. while on the trail.
The Cuyahoga Peak is the highest point of the Escarpment Ridge, which is shortest of the three ridges in the Porcupine Mountains. The hiking gets a tad bit steep in some parts of the Big Carp River Trail, but the average elevation is somewhere around 1400 feet.
The Government Peak Trail
The most massive ridge of the Porcupine Mountains is the one that has government peak, and it divides the entire Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Park into two halves. When on the Escarpment Peak, you won't be a le to see the view from the south and when on Summit Peak, you won't be able to see the view from the North due to this ridge. Located right in the middle, you can say that this is where the heart of the Porkies is. To get to the government Peak, there must be a minimum 5.5 miles' trail that you need to cover, irrespective of which side you start from. The Government Peak Trail takes advent from the eastern part of the ridge, and the peak falls on the trail itself. You can treat your eyes to the view of the other two ridges from the top of the Government Peak. However, another trail along this ridge is the South Mirror Lake Trail, which will take 5.5 miles of hiking for getting to Government Peak. You can start from the Summit Peak parking area for the South Mirror Lake Trail. It is also connected to the Government Peak Trail. Owing to the fact that it is located right in the middle, the trails from the other two ridges often intersect the Government Peak Trail, but none connect to the Government Peak itself.
Camping in the Porcupine Mountains comes with its benefits like pollution free surroundings, an eye soothing view awaiting you all around and the rustic, secluded from the world experience. Apart from sightseeing and hiking, there are activities like fishing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and skiing that you can go for. Lake Superior is also known for kayaking, and you can rent a kayak if you don't own one. However, none of them is as popular among the visitors as sightseeing along the three ridges is. You can also indulge in hunting when the season is right, and except for a few exceptions, all the little animals and birds can be hunted down in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Of the six drive-in campgrounds and numerous other backcountry camping sites here, most get reserved well before the season. Therefore, the sooner you book yourself a place, the better you will be able to enjoy your camping experience. The finest cabins on the finest locations go out first since they are rented out on a first come-first serve basis.