Duration:
4 Days, 3 Nights
Activities:
Hiking
Backpacking
Skill Rating:
1
From:
Ontonagon, MI
Price:
$ 425
Included: Guides, group camping equipment, permits and all meals on trail.
Not Included: Transportation to and from the Porcupine Mountains, personal backpack, clothing and accessories, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad.

Picturesque trails and sparkling waterfalls await you in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on this introductory backpacking trip. If you’ve never been on an overnight backpacking trip or are looking for a chance to explore the unique wilderness of the Midwest, this long weekend in the “Porkies” is a great opportunity. Join us for three nights and four days of hiking, playing and relaxing amid the hills and brooks of these picturesque mountains.


Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive at the Porcupine Mountains State Park by 2 PM the latest. Your guide will have already arranged whether the group will meet at the visitor center or the Lake of the Clouds parking lot. The guide(s) then checks to make sure that everyone has brought appropriate gear, and is not bringing too little (extremely rare) or more than they need (more likely). Then it’s off to the trails at around 3 PM. Usually we hike 3-5 miles on a shoreline trail before pitching camp, digging in to a hot dinner and falling asleep next to the lulling waves and under the starlit sky.

Day 2: We break camp and enjoy a hot breakfast, usually coffee, hot chocolate, oatmeal and trail snacks. With fuel in our bellies, we hit the trail, usually around 9 or 10 AM, and hike at our own pace. Typically groups want to cover between 6 and 10 miles today, and it can all be along the shoreline trail. After covering the packed distance, we pitch camp and enjoy free some free time until dinner. Participants often like to take a dip in Lake Superior or the nearby Little Carp River, stretch out for a shoreline nap or grab a water bottle and take a day hike to one of the park’s spectacular waterfalls. We camp near the shore where there are hardly any bugs, gentle wave sounds, a starry sky and a cool breeze.

Day 3: We break camp and have another hot breakfast today. We have the option to camp another night on the shoreline or hike inland along the Little Carp River Trail to a campsite on a scenic bluff. These are the least buggy sites available, and both are very offer fantastic views. Usually we hike about 6-10 miles today.

Day 4: After a hot breakfast we start making our way back to civilization. Depending on where we camped the night before, we hike the 3-5 miles to the trailhead or parking lot, aiming to reach our vehicles by noon. After a quick gear sort we are on our way home, ready to share all the great photos we took on our north woods adventure.


Clothing & Equipment:

You should dress in layers for warmth and for easy removal to prevent overheating.
All items should be waterproofed and packed inside your backpack with the exception of your sleeping pad (which should be strapped to the outside of your pack) , and sleeping bag (which should be waterproofed and strapped to the bottom of most external frame backpacks).

  • Raingear (jacket and pants). Ponchos are unacceptable.
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 1 Towel
  • 1 Shirt (long sleeved cotton or synthetic)
  • Fleece jacket or sweater
  • Sun/Rain/Cold hat
  • 2 Socks - 1 wool and liner socks if you use them
  • 1 pair fast-drying long pants NO BLUE JEANS or cotton
  • Underwear and 1 pair synthetic long underwear NO COTTON
  • Bandanas (optional)
  • 1 Pair shorts
  • 1 Well broken-in pair of light weight hiking boots. Gortex soft shells are very good.
  • 1 pair sandals (something comfortable to wear in camp)

Equipment List

  • Pocket Knife
  • Toiletry Kit (toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap/shampoo,
  • sunscreen, face cream, tampons, nail clipper, personal medicines, etc.)
  • Bug repellent (a must up North!)
  • Sleeping Bag (compact 3 season), closed-cell foam pad
  • Small flashlight with extra battery and bulb - headlamps are preferred
  • Large plastic cup with handle - commuter mug
  • Backpack (internal or external frame) at least 4,000 cubic inches.
  • A waterproof backpack cover
  • Matches or lighter (in waterproof container)
  • Water bottle (at least 1 quart)

Optional Equipment

  • Fishing rod (collapsible with container and license) and tackle
  • Camera, film, waterproof container
  • Fleece pants or comfortable clothes for evening in camp
  • Sew/repair kit
  • Ziploc storage bags
  • Compass
  • Headnet (for bugs)

What is special about this trip?
We love the cascading waterfalls, pristine Lake Superior shoreline, ridiculously starry night skies, old growth forests and really living the simple life for a long weekend. The “Porkies” are a national treasure, and they’re right here in the Midwest!

How do I get there?
We usually take Highway 51 on our way up to the Porkies. It is easy to follow and stays on 4 lane roads longer than most of the other routes.

How and where will you meet me?
Your guide(s) will let you know whether the group will meet at the visitor center or the Lake of Clouds parking lot. Arrival time is 2 PM.

How long will it take me to get there?
The drive from the Chicago area takes about 8 hours.

Where should I stay overnight around there?
There are lots of shoreline hotels, motels and cottages on Silver City and Ontonagon, MI. If you plan to arrive early or stay late, give the office a call for a recommendation on a great place to stay.

What money should I take?
You won’t need any money on the trail. We generally park our vehicles at the Lake Superior Trailhead, the only parking that doesn’t require a park sticker, but if you want to further explore the park you will need to purchase a sticker or day passes. Day parking passes cost $8.

Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?
The park office and the shops in town accept major credit cards and there are ATMs in Silver City and Ontonagon.

What's the weather like?
It can get up to the mid 80s during the day and down to the mid 50s at night along the shore.

What are the accommodations like?
We bring Eureka 2-man tents on this trip. If you would like to do a lot of hiking in inland areas we like to reserve bunkhouse style cabins to get out of the bugs that start stirring around 4 PM.

What do I need to bring?
We will send you a gear list upon registration. On backpacking trips the dictum “less is more” couldn’t be truer. The guide will do a quick gear shakedown before the group sets out, so you can leave any unnecessary gear in your vehicle.

Can I drink the water?
Some say that you can drink the water straight out of Lake Superior or any of the rivers in the park, but we treat all the water that we consume or use for cooking. We either pump it through a filter, boil it, or use purification tablets.

What's the food like?
We begin each day with a hot breakfast of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, oatmeal, fruit and trail snacks. We eat trail lunches of sandwiches (tuna, summer sausage, peanut butter), dried fruit, trail mix, cookies, etc. Feel free to bring a favorite energy bar or snack, but don’t feel obliged to. Typical dinners are spaghetti dishes, beans and rice, Thai noodles or Jambalaya.

What time zone will I be in?
The Porkies are in the Eastern Time Zone.

How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
Cell phone coverage is spotty at best in the area, but the park office land line can be reached at (906) 885-5275.

How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
We typically hike between 3 and 11 miles a day, which usually takes between 2 and 7 hours. The Porkies offer many different routes that suit any experience or fitness level. If you would like to cover more or less miles, just let your guide know beforehand so that we can arrange the perfect trip for you.

What kind of equipment do you use?
We use sturdy 2-man Eureka tents and reliable backpacking stoves. Just about everything else will be included in your gear list. Be sure to bring a pack with a padded hip belt.

How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides and what are their qualifications?
The groups are usually between 3 and 8 people. The guides are all experienced backpackers and outdoor professionals. All of our guides are certified in Wilderness First Aid as a baseline minimum.

How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
The best way to prepare is to walk. Walking briskly is good, but walking with a pack is even better. If you are unfamiliar with backpacking, call the office or talk to an experienced backpacker who can show you how to properly distribute weight in your pack. Go for hikes with a loaded pack (maybe 30 pounds or a little less). As your fitness improves, increase the duration of your hikes rather than the weight in your pack.


"Just wanted to tell you that we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, thank you very much.  Will and Taylor were amazing -- knowledgeable, hospitable, fun, thoughtful. We look forward to our next trip!" -Joan C., Chicago, Illinois

"Excellent. A healthy balance between participant choice (mileage, route) and leader guidance (schedule, pace, instruction). Ben and Lisa were great." -Jerry T., Chicago, Illinois

"[I enjoyed most] How it tested me in ways I never was. Learned a lot more about myself and how I adapt to the environment." -Tony G., Hickory Hills, Illinois