Explore the most popular river trails in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hike date May 14, 2018:

Big Carp trail and Superior trails are swampy right now do to the large amount of snow received and melted in the Porkies this year. A lot of downed trees and thick mud on the Superior trail. Escarpment trail was lovely.

I wouldn't recommend this entire loop to be honest. The Superior Trail doesn't stay on the shore completely so while the views were nice yesterday due to the leaves not being in for the year, the Superior views will be obstructed in a few weeks. You walk through a lowland swamp for most of it. Much of the Big Carp Trail is the same. It isn't particularly enjoyable to traverse downed trees in mud after 15 miles completed. Government Peak, to Mirror Lake, then North and across the Escarpment trail is a more enjoyable loop, in that order, as I have hiked just about every mile of trail in the park. Hiking North on the Pinkerton Creek trail to overnight at the Big Carp Cabin is nice as is the Presque Isle River Trail on the West end of the park. I would consider this trail again in the Autumn if not too wet. I have a feeling the mosquitoes will be heavy this year given the amount of standing water. If you want a great workout this would be ok right now but the combination of mud, swamp, bug arrival, and downed trees do not make this loop worth the effort right now. Couldn't wait for this hike to end and I'm an avid hiker. If you are only around for a day, I'd do the Escarpment Trail and the Presque Isle River trail with a stop to do the trail at the Summit Peak Scenic area which is just amazing in the Fall and early Winter when there is a some snow cover but the road isn't yet closed.

Fantastic views the whole trail! I would say it’s on the harder side of moderate but totally worth it!

Beautiful 360 view when you reach the top of the observation tower. Well worth the short uphill hike to the top.

This was my first backpacking trip, I left Chicago bright and early and arrived in the Porkies around 2 in the afternoon. I hiked down to Mirror Lake and camped my first night there. I enjoyed watching some loons traversing the lake as smoke from other campfires slowly crept across the water as the sun was setting. As night began to fall I heard the forest come alive with the sound of an owl that was in the area. I had a fire built up, and enjoyed a nice freeze dried meal. The site I was at that evening was equipped with a bear pole to hang my food on, and there was a pit toilet about 100 yards from the site back in the bush that I stumbled upon while harvesting firewood.
The next day I headed off down the trail to Lake Superior which was where I would set my camp up for that evening. The hiking was fantastic, I did get turned around once where I ended up on the NCT which also passes through the park, but I quickly realized my error and only had to backtrack about a half mile, if even that. That day I crossed a small creek and a river and climbed and descended many hills (calling them hills for lack of a better word) I came across other campers and hikers who were all rather friendly and even was able to strike up a conversation with a few of them. I reached the lake around 2:30 or 3:00 after about 5 hours of hiking and began to set my camp up.
Sleeping next to the lake was rather peaceful as I listened to the waves roll up on the shore, however for being Mid-June, the temperature dipped really low, and I actually woke up shivering in the middle of the night because I was so cold. But I layered up, and went back to bed.
The next day it began to rain, and I decided to just hike out that day instead of having to deal with the rain. I should have stayed because the last night there I was planning on staying on top of one of the ridges that overlooked carp river, and it was a beautiful sight to see. I would recommend this hike to anyone, and am planning to return back there this summer (2018).

This is a great loop. Walking along the lake give awesome opportunities for photos and rest spots where you can dip your feet in the water.

6 months ago

This can be a very difficult hike especially when it's the trial you use to start off. Your pack is the heaviest and your body has to right away get used to tough uphill and downhill. Great hike though

6 months ago

Love this loop. Stayed on this trial several times. The hike is quite hard going uphill sometimes, especially if it's early in your trip and your backpack is heaviest. But beautiful views and river crossings. Highly recommend if you don't mind getting a little muddy.

Trail was very beautiful! Short and sweet! Personally, I would rate the trail as easy. We experienced a bit of mud, so you may want some good shoes!

Beautiful views, Great place to stop and enjoy the waterfalls.

Did tourist trip on this one did not have time to hike entire trail, Nice short hike from parking lot to first look out and than up to tower look out, Great view , will be beautiful in a couple of weeks when leaves start to turn.

8 months ago

Short walk with over 190 steps, but spread out over half mile except for the last 54 steps to the tower. Some great views of the surrounding Porcupine State Park as well as of Lake Superior. There's also a 4.5 loop that continues on but steep grade for the experienced hiker.

8 months ago

if you stick to the West River trail it's a boardwalk the whole way with a lot of stairs but gorgeous views of both Manabehzo and Manido Falls!

8 months ago

I don't think I would call this trail moderate, there is a very difficult uphill from the trailhead on hwy 107 to the bluffs, but it is worth every step and I will be returning in a couple weeks for the fall colors peak. There are a couple campsites along the bluffs that would be amazing to stay at, but if a campground is more your speed, Union Bay has great facilities.

9 months ago

Fantastic hike along the rocky escarpment that separates Lake of the Clouds and Lake Superior. Fantastic views of Lake of the Clouds. Heavy crowds near western end, but crowds thin as you go east. Quite a bit of up-and-down, so on the harder side of moderate. Mostly shaded but some sunny areas along the cliffs. Overall, best day-hike in the Porkies.

9 months ago

We started from the eastern end in the morning putting the sun at our backs. A long steady uphill to start with takes you to views that get better and better at every turn. Not at all crowded at that end on A Friday in late July, although there were plenty of people at the western end overlook.

had a great time exploring! quite a few "off road" yrails you could follow to get rite down into the waterfalls. loved it!

10 months ago

Awesome views that are probably the best in Michigan.

Easy and fun.

Loved this trail! Beautiful waterfalls and wildflowers. Ended up by the lake around sunset. I loved seeing the river flowing into Lake Superior. Would definitely do this trail again.

11 months ago

Interesting interpretive trail that teaches you about the copper mining that occurred in the area in the 1800's. Beautiful well marked trail following a river.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

One of my favorite, short trails.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Beautiful trail, the 1 mile interpretive trial loop is amazing. Right along the river.

foggy but still a great view from the tower

beautiful waterfalls. love the simple catwalks to the different view points.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Escarpment Trail offers breathtaking views through vigin forests of hemlock, sugar maples, birch, and many other kinds of trees. Being so close to Lake Superior, temps in the summer are often very mild. Be prepared for lots of up and down hiking with several beautiful bluff vistas from which to peer down on Lake of the Clouds and the Carp River. FYI - bring bug spray. My wife and I really enjoyed the trail and will do it again.

Monday, June 23, 2014

To be above lake of the clouds and have lunch on the ridge is a positive memorable experience. Took a group of Boy Scouts and enjoyed the time.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

This is a beautiful hike along the escarpment ridge beside the lake of the clouds. One of the most stunning hiking trails in the UP.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This is a great trail with breathtaking views! You can hit the trail from 3 trailheads but unless you shuttle a car it is an out and back trail. Fast access for a day hike!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

This is a trail from Lake Superior up to the road bridge (approx a mile) and then back down the opposite bank. The trail follows the edge of the bank very closely on the east side. Very steep, short climbs and descents close to the drop-off. When I was there 9-27-11 trail was wet and very slick. 2 mile trail took 2 hours to complete. River falls are great with some chances to get down to the river. Lots of photo ops, birds, old growth trees and quiet. Short tough trail but well worth the effort.

29 days ago

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