Category: Project: State Parks (Page 1 of 10)
The observation tower atop Summit Peak is the highest point in Michigan at close to 2,000 feet above sea level. The hike is less than a mile round trip but with a 223 ft elevation gain, the half a mile hike to the tower is nothing to sneeze at. The hike to the tower is uphill the whole way, and let me tell you, my legs felt it. Luckily, there is a bench at the top to rest before climbing the stairs to the observation tower.
From the top of the tower, you can see the many hills of the Porkies as well as the crystal clear Lake Superior waters. On a clear day, you can see Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands from up there. It really is a beautiful place to stop and take in the magestic beauty that is the Upper Peninsula.
Once you make it to the top of the tower, the hard part is over. You can breathe easy as you hike almost a half-mile back to the parking lot, waving to the out of breath hikers you pass. While one of the shortest hikes in the park, Summit Peak is not for the faint of heart. We passed a few people contemplating whether or not they would be able to make it to the top.
As I mentioned in a previous Porcupine Mountains post, if you are not an avid hiker, you are going to want to train for your trip to The Porkies. The Lake of the Clouds Overlook and the Preque Isle trails are fairly easy, but some pretty intense hiking is required to see the rest of the park. Almost all of the trails in Porcupine Mountains are rated either moderate or difficult, according to All Trails. A backcountry hiking trip is really the best way to fully see the park, but of course, backpacking is not for the faint of heart.
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our summer road trip, check out my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
Located 25 miles from the Union Bay area, the Presque Isle area of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is like a whole different park. This section of the park is home to three waterfalls: Manabezho Falls, Manido Falls, and Nawadaha Falls. A moderate hike of about two and a quarter miles will take you to these three falls.
These picturesque falls are all on the Presque Isle River and the water flows from up in the Porcupine Mountains and it wears down the rocky bedrock as it travels into Lake Superior. As in the case of what is known as “the potholes”, the swirling water has cut half circles out of the rock and is really interesting to watch from above on the rope bridge.
My one complaint about the area is that with all the foliage, the various falls can be difficult to see from the observation areas. You can’t even really see Nawadaha Falls on the parking lot side of the river. There are signs all over telling you to stay on the path and if they really want people to do that, they should trim the trees that block the views from the platforms (see the large leaf in the above photo of Manido Falls). If people see the falls from the viewing areas, they are much less likely to go off the path and do something unsafe to get that photo.
When you get to the Presque Isle section of the park, there are a few different parking areas so you don’t have to hike the full 2.3 miles to see these waterfalls. There are three different parking areas and the one closest to the ranger station allows for ADA accessible viewing of Nawadaha falls. The rest of the falls do require some stair climbing to get to view. This is one of the most accessible parts of the Porcupine Mountains because you don’t have to climb any mountains to see these waterfalls!
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out our Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
Union Bay is an inlet on Lake Superior at the northern boundary of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Before entering the park, you drive by a few roadside beaches where you can play in the icy cool Superior waters.
During our time at the Porkies, we stayed at the modern Union Bay campground. We tend to prefer rustic camping, but the rustic Presque Isle campground is on the other end of the park and far away from the sites we wanted to see. We spent the first two nights in an interior site, which, like many Michigan State Park campgrounds, was in an open, grassy area with all the RVs and big rigs, listening to the hum of their air conditioners all night long. For the third night, I scored a waterfront site right on the water (left). Down by the water, it was like a whole other park. The sites are bigger and more private. While it’s not sandy, each site has its own bit of shoreline that you can swim or launch a kayak from. If you want to go to Porcupine Mountains, plan ahead and book early so you can score one of these most coveted spots. You will not be disappointed.
We borrowed an inflatable Kayak for this trip so one of our days at the Porcupine Mountains when the water was calm, we headed out onto the lake. I will have to talk about blow-up kayaks on this site at a later date because we learned a lot from that short little paddle. I was glad we had calm waters because that boat would not have handled waves well at all. But, I was glad we had it with us because I would have been really disappointed if we were this close to Lake Superior and stuck on land.
Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.￼
The Lake of the Clouds overlook is the most famous view in the Porcupine Mountains and one of the most famous views in all of Michigan. It shouldn’t be surprising that Lake of the Clouds was our first stop after arriving at Michigan’s largest state park. This was my first time at Porcupine Mountains although Chris did a backpacking trip through the park in high school. It was nice to have a private tour guide on this visit!
The 60,000-acre park is home to 35,000 acres of old-growth forest and is one of few remaining wilderness areas in the midwest. There are 90 miles of hiking trails in the park as well as many opportunities for camping. There is a disc-golf course and in the winter it is a big skiing destination. Of course, photos I’ve seen of the park in fall are absolutely breathtaking.
After checking out the iconic Lake of the Clouds view, we did a short evening hike on the Union Mine trail. At a little over a mile, the flat, interpretive trail is one of the easiest in the park. The trail takes you by remnants of the abandoned Union Mine, an abandoned copper mine. But, the biggest draw for this trail is its numerous small waterfalls (left). I’ve been told in the spring, the views on this trail are breathtaking! I was surprised to see these falls documented in my Michigan Waterfalls book when we got back to the car.
One thing to note about Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is that it really is a wilderness. The ADA accessible Lake of the Clouds overlook is one of the only things to do in the park that doesn’t involve backcountry hiking with some steep elevation. If you are not in great shape, its a good idea to do some conditioning before heading to the park.
Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.