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Porcupine Mountains Traverse

Difficult
 5.0 (3) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

The crown jewel of midwest trail hiking.


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Map Key

26.5

Miles

42.6

KM

Loop

1,944' 593 m

High

1,011' 308 m

Low

2,595' 791 m

Up

2,624' 800 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

34%

Max Grade (19°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildlife

Overview

A consistently beautiful, challenging loop around the Porcupine Mountains. You start high up on the Escarpment Trail looking down over Lake of the Clouds and the entire route. Along the way, you get several additional glimpses of the whole route as it's unfolding. The epic end with miles along the Escarpment Trail again, ending up where you began is just amazing.

Need to Know

You'll need to purchase either a day or annual MI park pass to use the Lake of the Clouds overlook parking.

Description

The route begins along the ridge and the first several miles offer fantastic airy views of the valley and Summit Peak in the distance. Ideally start the route in the twilight, and if it's clear you'll get a nice sunrise before heading down into the valley. Once in the valley expect frequent stream crossings and long stretches of boggy mud. Don't expect dry feet.

Make your way up Summit Peak's Tower to see (if you're lucky and it's not cloudy) the the ridge you left about 10 miles before. Make your way over Government Peak (probably the steepest part of the trail though no views), through more bogs, then finally summit Peak 1492. The view from just below the summit of 1492 reveals Cuyahoga Peak far far away (okay just 7 mile away, but it feels longer when you know you're going there).

After a bit of trickiness getting back on the ridge (follow the GPS track), the last miles of the route are again airy with stunning views of Lake of the Cloud and Lake Superior as you summit Cuyahoga Peak. Over those miles you can contemplate all the ground you've covered because you'll be looking over it from the ridge. If you've got extra gas, drop down to Lake of the Clouds for a dip.

Flora & Fauna

Of particular note: there is a sizable black bear population. There are also occasional grey wolf sightings.

History & Background

This area, like many spots on the Upper Peninsula, was once used for copper mining. As you make your way up Cuyahoga Peak watch for the signs for an abandoned mine entrance.

Contacts

Shared By:

Joe Kallo with improvements by TJ Kennedy

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes

#1007

Overall
  5.0 from 3 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#8

in Michigan

#1,007

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Photos

Enjoy beautiful fall colors at Lake of the Clouds.
Feb 17, 2017 near Ontonagon, MI
Lake of the Clouds from the Mirror Lake Trail
Apr 22, 2015 near Ontonagon, MI
The Big Carp River comes alive in the fall.
Feb 17, 2017 near Ontonagon, MI
Mirror Lake
Apr 22, 2015 near Wakefield, MI
Escarpment Ridge with Lake of the Clouds in the distance.
Apr 22, 2015 near Ontonagon, MI
Lake of the Clouds.
May 28, 2015 near Ontonagon, MI

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