Resting on the shore of Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park encompasses about 60,000 acres, making it the biggest state park in Michigan. On top of that, it’s one of the few substantial wilderness areas that remain in the Midwest. The 35,000-acre, hardwood-hemlock forest has miles of streams and rivers as well as several waterfalls. All of these features mean tons of recreational activities for you.
Exhibits And Interpretive Activities At The Porcupine Mountains Visitor Center
Before you start exploring the park, stop by the Porcupine Mountains Visitor Center to learn more about its rich heritage. The center has an exhibit hall that features the natural communities of the native wildlife and displays about the area’s history — from prehistoric copper miners to early 1900s lumber camps. Before you leave the park, visit the gift shop for souvenirs.
Also, the center has an auditorium with 100 seats for programs and classes for all ages. The center even provides guided hikes and outdoor skills classes for archery, fishing, hunting, and more.
Porcupine Mountains Recreational Activities
Hiking is one of the main activities that people enjoy at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. There are more than 90 miles of trails, giving you a range of options from a simple half-day hike to a challenging trek. The variety of trails lead you through woods and along the many streams and rivers.
You can even hike a 23-mile section of the North Country National Scenic Trail, which stretches for 4,700 miles from North Dakota to Vermont, making it the longest national trail in the country. On top of that, the Iron Belle Trail runs through the Porcupine Mountains. This more than 2,000-mile biking and hiking route stretches from the western tip of the Upper Peninsula to Detroit.
Mountain Biking Through The State Park
Among the more than 90 miles of hiking trails are more than 20 miles of designated mountain biking trails. The loops range from 1.5 miles to 10.5 miles in length. If you want to rent a bike while you’re here, the Porcupine Mountain Outpost near the Union Bay Campground has single and tandem bicycles.
Experiencing The Many Waterways
In the northeast corner of the park are 1.6 miles of sandy beach along Union Bay and M-107 (107th Engineers Memorial Hwy). This is the only Lake Superior swimming area in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, however, there are ample opportunities to experience Lake Superior by boat. A boat launch is located on Union Bay next to the campground, and you can rent canoes and kayaks at the Porcupine Mountain Outpost.
Fishing opportunities are abundant in the bay and Lake Superior as well. You can fish from the Union Bay pier next to the campground or around the Porkies watershed nearby. On the other hand, you could charter a fishing excursion.
Enjoying A Round Of Disc Golf
In the Porcupine Mountain Ski Area is an 18-hole golf course that runs through the woods and up the skiing hill. The well-maintained course is free to use and open throughout the summer. You can rent discs at the Porcupine Mountain Outpost.
Must-See Features At Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Lake Of The Clouds
You can’t go to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park without seeing the famed Lake of the Clouds. This feature is the most photographed in the park and one of the most photographed places in the Upper Peninsula. You can easily reach the lake via an accessible walkway and observation platform. Or, you could hike the 4.3-mile Escarpment Trail or 9.6-mile Big Carp River Trail.
Although the lake has catch-and-release restrictions, it’s a popular fishing spot. You can fish from the shore, use waders, or carry a light watercraft ¾-mile to the water.
Visiting The Presque Isle River Waterfalls
Cascades and low waterfalls are many along the Presque Isle River on the western edge of the park. The Nawadaha, Manabezho, and Manido falls are easily accessible from the parking area nearby. A trail leads you down a set of steps to a viewing platform.
Climbing The Summit Peak Observation Tower
At the top of the 50-foot Summit Peak Observation Tower, you get a panoramic view of the Porcupine Mountains and surrounding nature. On clear days, you can see Isle Royale to the northeast and the Apostle Islands in the northwest. You can reach the tower via the ½-mile Summit Peak Tower Trail.
Restaurants Near Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Snacks and drinks are available at the Porcupine Mountain Outpost, but you might want more substantial meals for lunch and dinner. About 30 minutes east, Curbside Kitchen Restaurant On Wheels is the home of the original Broasted Chicken and Fish recipe. The restaurant has burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, sub sandwiches, and more. In White Pine (about 35 minutes away), White Pine’s Yooper Diner serves local eats — thin and pan crust homemade pizzas, burgers, and a wide variety of sandwiches.
If you drive farther into Ontonagon (about 45 minutes), you can get some awesome pizza at Stubb’s Bar. The decorated ceiling and walls of this restaurant are reason alone to visit. While you’re here, Sip & Snack is just down the street. While it offers an array of quick bites, the Jilbert’s soft serve ice cream is what you really want. Sundaes and flurries and dairy-free options are available too.
Opportunities For Camping In The Porcupine Mountains
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park offers many opportunities to camp within its borders. You can choose from backcountry sites, rustic cabins, wilderness yurts, and the Kaug Wudjoo Modern Lodge. The only modern campsites are located at Union Bay Campground, which has a Tiny House for rent.
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