Porcupine Mountains – Escarpment/Superior Loop

Location Ontonagon, MI. Lake of the Clouds Trailhead.
Distance 17.5 miles
Total Elevation Gain 1340 ft
Topographic Map

The Porcupine Mountains, or Porkies as the locals lovingly call them, offer just about everything you might want from Midwest mountains. This route will highlight all the best scenery, especially if you go in fall.

The Porkies were, for several years, my annual pilgrimage. I’ve hiked just about every mile in the park and I think this one is the best route there is. I highly recommend staying in the cabins. It gives a unique feel to the hike.

Arrive at the Lake of the Clouds parking lot at any point on Friday (even 11pm). Hike down hill a bit less than a mile to the Lake of the Clouds cabin. There is one turn off on that trail, about half way down, that could be missed if hiking without caution.

Spend the night there and wake up to a glorious view out over the lake. The next day is a nice hike up and along the escarpment with a beautiful view out across the Carp River.

After the escarpment you follow the Carp River, eventually crossing it. Though there is no bridge, the crossing is nothing to fear. The water is about calf deep at the highest, but getting wet can be mostly avoided by rock hopping–bring a pole or something if your feeling shaky about your balance (see what I did there?).

Stay in one of the cabins along Lake Superior–the Lake Superior cabin is cozy but the view is quite nice. There is also great fishing along the river outlet to the lake.

The next day involves a scenic and sometimes muddy trek along the lake. You’ll return to your car pretty quickly and then must slowly and sorrowfully leave your autumn paradise.

  • If you want to see the height of fall colors, book your cabin or campsite early! Especially the cabins–they tend to fill up around March.
  • If you stay in a cabin, bring some candles!
  • To pick up permits or cabin keys late at night, the ranger will leave them out for you at the park headquarters at 46.813836, -89.622253.

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