Isle Royale Backpack
Moose and Wolves on Lake Superior's Isle Royale
Lake Superior’s Isle Royale National Park is an island of wild creatures, unspoiled forests, refreshing lakes, and rugged scenery. Hike trails known for moose sightings, view Rock Harbor Lighthouse, and explore the historic Edison fishery. Discover this US Biosphere Reserve known for its isolated population of wolves and moose. Trip fee includes round-trip ferry from the mainland.
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
DAY 1: Drive from Minneapolis to Copper Harbor, MI. Camp at Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor that evening. Get packs ready to go meet the ferry in the morning.
DAY 2: Get up early to meet the morning ferry for the 3-hour ride to Rock Harbor on the eastern end of the island. Pick up permits at the ranger station in Rock Harbor. Make camp at Rock Harbor or hike to Three Mile campsite.
DAY 3: Load gear after breakfast and set out on your way to Daisy Farm. You may choose to stay at Daisy Farm or continue on to Moskey Basin.
DAY 4: Make the trek back to Three Mile using the Greenstone Ridge Trail. This trail connects the island end to end and is frequented by wolf and moose!
DAY 5: Get up early to break camp and hike back to Rock Harbor. In the afternoon, catch the ferry back to Michigan. Camp at Lake Gogebic State Park.
DAY 6: Part ways and finish the drive back to Minneapolis.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Isle Royale is rugged, with rocky terrain, and significant elevation changes. Isle Royale offers a wide range of route options that offer incredible views of Lake Superior, neighboring islands, and wildlife.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: Travel distances vary from 4-7 miles (4-6 hours) each day with the exception of scheduled layover days. To protect the environment, WI uses Leave No Trace camping techniques.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 45 F to 80 F. Rainfall can vary, but you should expect at least a day or two of rain. The weather is greatly affected by Lake Superior's large expanse of cold water. Lake Superior is notorious for sudden weather changes.
ACCOMMODATIONS: This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a comfortable and spacious tent. Typically, there are 2 people per 3 person tent (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of an outhouse or a foldable commode chair set up in a privacy tent. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 6 to 8 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can. Part of the adventure involves learning about daily camp activities.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: If you are new to outdoor activities, you need not spend a lot of money on gear. Wilderness Inquiry will provide all necessary camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. If you need to borrow personal gear, that can usually be arranged.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: No previous experience is needed to complete this trip, however this is one the most physically demanding hiking trips that WI does.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
Located in the northwest corner of the world's largest freshwater lake, Isle Royale National Park is a wilderness archipelago. The interrelationships of the islands' mammals have been the focus of the world's longest running wildlife research project. The relationships between moose and wolves have been studied for over 40 years, providing information regarding population patterns, dependence upon other animals and genetic loss as a result of inbreeding.
An aerial view of this park reveals clues to the formation of the islands and the existence of a massive rift in the earth's crust. All the islands are relatively long and narrow and geologists theorize that the land is part of the original Superior basin which formed 1.2 billion years ago. In more recent years, glaciers had a significant impact on the land as they retreated and left small linear deposits, forming hills on the southwestern part of the islands. Over the next several thousand years vegetation took root on the islands and eventually attracted and supported wildlife.
Long before the arrival of the biologists on Isle Royale, Paleo-Indians frequented the islands and mined the rich copper deposits. The copper was shaped into ceremonial pieces and tools which, in turn, were traded for goods. Large scale mining of the region didn't start until the mid 1800's and had a relatively short existence due to the small quantities of available copper. In the early 20th century tourism became popular as people learned of this wild and remote region.
In 1948, a 15-mile ice bridge formed, connecting Isle Royale with the mainland. It was during this winter that a small pack of wolves migrated to the island in search of food. With a substantial moose population already established, the wolf population flourished. Since the arrival of the wolves, wildlife biologists have focused their attention on the interdependence of organisms within this isolated environment.
In 1920 Albert Stoll, Jr. argued for the preservation of Isle Royale as a National Park and won the support of Stephen Mather, Director of the National Park Service. Unfortunately, it took Mather's death in 1930 to create renewed public attention which led to the signing of a bill establishing Isle Royale as a National Park. Due to WWII, formal dedication did not occur until 1946.
For more information, visit these links:
No Dates Scheduled
This is a great backpacking trip, but relatively few people know about it. An island in Lake Superior, Isle Royale is one of the least visited units of the National Park Service. If you like hiking in remote Wilderness, Isle Royale can't be beat. Please contact us if you have at least 6 people who want to plan a trip together--use the "custom Trip" button on lower right hand side of this page.
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