Best Backpacking Adventures, Blog, Michigan Trails

HIKE THE PORKIES

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (60,000 acres) is one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Home to towering old-growth hemlock-hardwood stands, roaring waterfalls and spectacular sweeping vistas. One of our favorite places to hike and backpack in.

This park boasts many popular natural attractions, including Lake of the Clouds (ADA accessible viewing area), the Summit Peak observation tower and the scenic Presque Isle River corridor. Other attractions include an 18-hole disc golf course, the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area and more. In addition, the Wilderness Visitor Center offers interpretive programs, exhibit hall, information on trail conditions, wifi, a gift shop and more.

Backcountry Camping
There are 63 site-specific backcountry camping sites in the park. A set number of sites were set to help best protect park resources and to preserve the solitude experience of backcountry camping. Along with camping, you can also rent a cabin that are along some of the backpacking trails and are a great place to stay overnight.

The campsites are numbered and are outfitted with a metal fire ring. There are no pit toilets. Campers are required to dig a 6” hole and bury the waste at least .25 mile from any campsite, trail or water body. Bear bags must be suspended at least 12 feet above the ground and far enough from the tree to prevent an animal from reaching or jumping on it.

Winter camping (Oct. 15-May 14)
During this timeframe, you do not need a reservation, but are required to camp in a designated campsite until the ground is snow covered. Once the ground is snow covered, you may disperse camp (make your own campsite) as long as it’s at least .25 mile from any park building, trail or water body. Please use Leave No Trace techniques, such as dispersing all evidence of a campfire.

Reservations (May 15 through October 14)
During the high-use period (May 15 through October 14), all backcountry campsites are reservable and site-specific (meaning you camp at the site you are registered). Reservations are strongly recommended and are available six months in advance and up to 72 hours before arriving at MiDNRReservations or 1-800-44PARKS.

Checking in
Backcountry campers must check in to obtain their backcountry camping permit (online reservations receipts are not the same as a permit). Self-registration is no longer offered. Check-in hours (Eastern Time Zone) and locations include:

  • May 15 through Oct. 14: Park Visitor Center, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 15 through May 14: Park headquarters, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Water is plentiful in the Porkies with creeks and lakes throughout. Along with Lake Superior with amazing campsites right off the Lake. The trails are pretty easy with moderate climbs depending on what route you take. You can download the trail map and plan your route.

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In 2003 I completed a Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I have over 12,000 miles underfoot and 20 years of backpacking, and camping experience. Certifications include WFA, WFR, LNT Trainer, and belong to AORE. Have been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years. The outdoors has taught me one thing. Trusting the Trail! really does provide everything a person needs.

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