No doubt, Upper Peninsula, Michigan that is tucked between Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron is a must-visit place in the USA in all seasons. There are tons of waterfalls here nestled in thousands of acres of wilderness along with miles of trails and stunning scenic spots. We have explored the Lake Michigan side of it earlier which is an unforgettable camping experience. And recently, we have been to the greenest (or I should say colorful this season) stretch along Lake Superior, just above Wisconsin named the Porcupine Mountains. Or locals call it dearly – Porkies.
Porkies is so huge (60,000 acres approx.) that a part of it is in the Central time zone and the rest of it in the Eastern. But do not fret as time is of no essence here. From all day to overnight hikes and stargazing or even Northern Lights, there is something to do at any time of the day, any season. We had the best time and we are ready to go back already.
Here is everything we did during our 2 days stay in Porkies.
We visited the Visitors Center first to check out the activities for the day and the best spots to go this time of the year. At Ranger’s suggestion, we did a quick hike at Union Mine Trail which is just 1 mile from Visitor’s Center on the beautiful South Boundary road. It is a quick 1-mile loop along a creek and a couple of tiny waterfalls including Little Union Gorge Waterfall with a history of mining in the area. We used this hike to stretch our legs and make us ready for the trip. Waterfalls here are small and the trail was usual except for the Wild mushrooms. There are so many of them in the area and they are so colorful. Since it is a loop, we crossed the road twice and came to the parking spot where we started after an hour or so.
Along the South Boundary road, there are several other trails along the creeks to enjoy solitude. The most important of them being:
- Lost Lake Trail – About 3.5 mi one way to Trap Falls
- Little Carp River Road – 2 mile round trip hike to Overlooked Falls and Greenstone Falls
But obviously, Park’s best waterfalls are in Presque Isle. More of it is below.
1. Summit Scenic Area:
With just a half-mile from the parking lot, this trail leads to the observation tower for uninterrupted 360 views of Porkies along with Lake Superior.
It took about 30 min to reach the tower due to the little elevation and all the stairs. More than anything, due to the traffic of squirrels. Porkies Squirrels are tiny, fast, and noisy. And there are hundreds of them here.
The observation deck just before reaching the tower offers the view into Porkies. Few more steps to the other side to go to the tower. Undoubtedly, this is the best view in the park.
From unending Porkies to unending Lake Superior, it is the view that relaxes the mind at 1,958 feet above sea level. It is also the highest point in the Park.
We don’t want to end here, so we took a little hike on South Mirror Lake Trail. It is a total 5-mile loop trail but we went just a little ahead down the cliff, enjoyed the woods, and came back before the sun goes down.
Apparently, the best place to watch sunset in the area is just outside the park near Visitors Center. The beach along the HWY-107 named Union Bay is a great spot to lounge while sun sets behind the mountain and colors pop all along Lake Superior.
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2. Lake of the Clouds:
The Lake of the Clouds is a true example of nature’s beauty. Situated perfectly amid mountains and that too just below the cliff is mind-blowing. The overlook here makes the perfect spot to enjoy the sunrise while being on top of the lush forest. As the name suggests, there are always clouds on this lake due to its elevation.
We have arrived half an hour before sunrise and there are people already here. It is a short 100-yard walk from the parking lot to the observation deck but with an elevation. The broad walk runs along the cliff and completes the loop at the parking lot.
There are other trails to check out here that go along the lake and some adventure hikers access these for overnight hikes as well.
- Lake Superior Trail – About 17 miles one way that go along Lake Superior and one can spot bears here.
- Trail that goes to the Lake of the Clouds – About 1.5 miles down the cliff on Escarpment trail and North Mirror Lake Trail.
Tip: Just outside the park, Copper Peak has a beautiful viewing deck reached by a chairlift. It is not an ordinary observation deck with the vast forest views. Cannot be missed.
There are tons of waterfalls in the Porkies and the most famous among them being in Presque Isle Scenic Area. This area is located at the other end of South Boundary Road and is in Central Time Zone.
The trails at Presque Isle are very well maintained and there is a broad walk that takes us to all the waterfalls in the area. The Presque Isle River Waterfalls Loop is about 2 miles and takes about 3 hours. We can also park at each of these falls and take a quick walk.
Starting with the hanging bridge at the rear end, the broad walk continues to Manabezho Falls, the largest drop in the area. Followed by Manido Falls which are vast and look wonderful with all the rocks shaped with the water flow. Finally, the boardwalk ends at Nawadaha Falls at the entrance of the Park.
We loved Nawadaha Falls. There is no huge drop here but the falls flow over rocks in multiple steps. We also walked and sat next to the falls. Water rushing sounds while overlooking fall colors brought peace to us.
But our most favorite area in the Park is where the river meets Lake Superior crossing Hanging Bridge on the other end. It was so peaceful here and all the tiny colorful rocks on the beach made it a beautiful place. We spent at least an hour here with our legs in the water and making conversations.
If looking for more waterfalls, just near Copper Peak, Black River has some gorgeous waterfalls with Potawatomi being the famous one. We also loved the area where Black River meets Lake Superior. The trails are well maintained and the place is heavenly.
There are two major campsites here. Union Bay Campground at Visitors Centre with all the amenities from showers to flush toilets and water to electricity. And then there are Presque Isle Campsites close to waterfalls with no electricity but vault toilets.
We stayed at Union Bay Campground and we would camp here again in a heartbeat. It has everything we wished for. And above all, we actually got T-mobile reception and Skyroam worked perfectly that allowed us to #workfromwoods for a couple of days. This is very rare for a state park and it is a beautiful experience working from such a remote place.
Our Jackery Portable Power Station withheld charge for two days even after charging the laptop a few times, phone, and other small devices multiple times. We absolutely recommend it. And if you are planning to buy, now is the right time. Check out the below link for offers:
Oh BTW Porcupine Mountains Visitor Center is one of the very few remote places with WiFi making it perfect to get some work outdoors. We all need it now more than ever. Campground do not have WiFi though.
If you love to watch, we made a video as well:
Here are our other trips you may enjoy:
Quick info about Mackinac Island:
One of our beautiful and stressful road trips:
Europe is opening:
Cheers and Safe Travels!