Location: Northern Michigan
Trip Starts: Rock Harbor Lodge
Trip Ends: Rock Harbor Lodge
Total Distance: 18 miles
Hike Type: Roundtrip, Loop Hike
Hike Difficulty: Difficult to Very Difficult
Trails Used: Rock Harbor, Lake Ritchie, Intermediate Lake, Siskiwit Lake, Wood Lake, Lake Whittlesey, Chippewa Harbor
Trail Traffic: Light to Heavy
Trip Type: Multi-Day Canoe Trip
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Isle Royale National Park
800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931-1869


Isle Royale National Park sits on a remote island in the middle of Lake Superior, and is 45 miles long and nine miles wide. The island is a wild northern forest and it is packed with inland lakes where both moose and wolves roam. The weather changes quickly and is much cooler than the mainland due to the cool crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior. Isle Royale National Park encompasses a total area of 850 square miles including submerged lands which extends four and a half miles out into Lake Superior. The archipelago is composed of many parallel ridges resulting from ancient lava flows which were tilted and glaciated, and Isle Royale has 165 miles of scenic hiking trails and 36 campgrounds for backpackers and recreational boaters. There is excellent fishing, historic lighthouses and shipwrecks, ancient copper mining sites, and plenty of spots to observe wildlife.

We used both canoes and backpacks to explore the island, and spent five days portaging between interior lakes so that we could do a fair amount of fishing. The route we chose was a difficult one, but took us into some remote areas in the park where we spent two of four nights alone on inland lakes. There are easier canoe routes that do not require a portage, and hikers and backpackers have a number of options for day and overnight hikes in the park. So it’s easy to tailor a trip that is right for you. Access to the island is by boat or float plane, so you’ll need to make arrangements on the mainland for transportation to the island.

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