Backpacking in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness

date October 06, 2019 location Upper Peninsula, MI




Last weekend, my brother-in-law and I spent four days exploring the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Having never visited before, we planned an ambitious trip, booking our campsites such that we would end up covering more than 25 miles in our four days, hoping to see as much of the park as possible.

We arrived in the early afternoon on Thursday and briefly explored the Lake of the Clouds scenic area where we would leave our car for the duration of the trip, and headed to our campsite for the night.

We woke up early Friday and after the quick hike back to the Lake of the Clouds scenic area, we hiked about two miles each way on the Escarpment trail, enjoying north-facing views of Lake of the Clouds and Lake Superior. We continued north down the Big Carp Trail to our second campsite, BC-1. This was probably the best campsite we saw during our entire trip as it occupied plenty of space including flat ground, as well as breathtaking views facing back south to Lake of the Clouds and north to Lake Superior. Looking at the map, we figured our campsite had easy river access both as a water source and for fishing. Unfortunately, our campsite was on a cliff a good 300' above the river with no obvious way down. We hiked off-trail trying to find the best path to the river, and after more than an hour we finally reached the river only to find that it was mostly dried up. We were able to filter enough water before heading back to the campsite for the night.

Saturday's hike followed the Big Carp trail all the way to Lake Superior. After some unsuccessful attempts at fishing the river, we took the Lake Superior trail to our next campsite along the lake. As I was gathering firewood near the campsite, I broke the branch of a fallen tree. The loud snap of the branch spooked a nearby bear and I felt the entire earth shake as I watched the butt of a black bear sprint off into the woods. The rest of the night was uneventful, we woke up early Sunday and hiked the remainder of the Lake Superior Trail only by the light of our headlamps, making it back to the car before sunrise.

A map of our hike and campsites