45-mile long Isle Royale is the largest island in Lake Superior and the least visited of all the National Parks. This may be because it is difficult to access. There are no roads – only trails – and it’s closed in the winter. But once a backpacker arrives, it’s to a wilderness like no other. And because it’s the location of the longest predator/prey study in the world, a moose sighting and at least hearing howling wolves is all but guaranteed.
- Location: NW Lake Superior, part of the state of Michigan, USA
- Size: 45 x 9 miles; 15 miles from shore
- Trails: 165 miles
- Best time to go: late summer and fall, open April 16-October 31
- Permits required: yes (advance for groups of 7-10)
- Cost: $7/day or $60/year (four adults)
- Highest point: Ishpeming Point, 1,377 feet
- Lowest: Lake Superior
- Transport: ferry or plane
- Maps: NatGeo
- Dogs: prohibited
- Campsites: 36, first-come-first-served (cross country requires permit)
- Type of travel: foot, boat
IRNP Day 1, Windigo to Hugginin Cove, 5.1 miles
A fog delay offers me another side or the island with thimbleberries, a sunset and an averted injury.
IRNP Day 2, Hugginin Cove to Feldtmann Lake (Rainbow) Cove 14.4 miles
The trail heads up to a ridge before descending through thick brush where I meet a moose and a fox.
IRNP, Day 3, Feldtmann Lake to Siskiwit Bay, 10.2 miles
The walk to a view is fogged in, but Blissful is rewarded with thousands of dew-covered spider webs.
IRNP, Day 4 Siskiwit Bay to South Lake Desor, 9.8 miles
Carnelian beach is slow through overgrowth and wetland, then it’s over Mount Desor to a lake.
IRNP Day 5, South Lake Desor to Todd Harbor, 11.6 miles
The Minong Ridge meanders through dams, birches then to a stunning campsite facing Canada.
IRNP Day 6, Todd Harbor to McCargoe Cove, 6.2 miles
It’s a short walk to the cove through lightening, thunder and a downpour.
IRNP, Day 7 McCargoe Cove to Moskey Basin, 9.8 miles
Passing Chickenbone and Ritchie Lakes to Moskey, I’m attacked by leeches, then see otters at sunset.
IRNP, Day 8 Moskey Basin to Lane Cove, 10.8 miles
The trail heads up to Mount Ojibwe then down into forest to a remote cove.
IRNP, Day 9 Lane Cove to Rock Harbor, 7.7 miles
It’s a rewind of the trail out of Lane Cove to Rock Harbor where the wind delays the plane.