Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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A couple of days ago, I posted a short photo essay from Lake of the Clouds overlook. This is where my Porcupine Mountains backpacking adventure began.

The beautiful Lake of the Clouds was only 300 yards into my trip. I still had 30 miles to go. Although the most scenic view was checked off at the very beginning, I still had a beautiful trip ahead.

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area entrance sign along Lake Superior

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area

This hike was a return to the scene of my first outdoor adventure experience as a 9 year old hiking with my dad in 1980. Since I have backpacked  the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park again, so I am familiar with how great the hiking is in this park. This trip I even walked away with even more respect for the Porkies after three amazing days in the wilderness. The park has so much to offer from a hiking, backpacking, and camping arena.

Porcupine Mountains backpacking

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area fall colors on the Mirror Lake Trail

A return to Porcupine Mountains backpacking

First of all, there are many loop options, which I love. I am not a big fan of out and back hikes. I prefer to constantly break new ground.

Related: Porcupine Mountains Lake of the Clouds photo essay

Some parks do not have enough connecting trails for convenient loop options. The Porcupine Mountains offers several interesting loop options for two, three, and even four night hikes.

Lake of the Clouds

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area – Lake of the Clouds scenic overlook

This time I choose to start at Lake of the Clouds. After staring in awe at the scenic overlook, I proceeded to Mirror Lake and then down the Little Carp River Trail. In just a couple of miles I experienced mountain overlooks, mountain lakes, beaver ponds, and then a cascading river with several waterfalls.

Michigan hiking

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area – The Little Carp River Trail

Camping inland and along Lake Superior

After camping along the Little Carp River, the next day I entered a new realm of beauty. The Little Carp River meets with Lake Superior and the Lake Superior Trail. I then followed the sensational great lake for ten miles back to the parking lot. Remember to always take black bear precautions when camping.

Little Carp River Michigan

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area – The lovely Little Carp River

The last night I camped right along Lake Superior. I was treated to an unbelievable sunset and heard the soothing crash of the waves all night. One of the great aspects of camping is the joy of waking up each morning with a different view. You can see my view from my tent on to Lake Superior below and it was stunning.

Lake Superior camping

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area – Setting up camp along the Lake Superior Trail

Porcupine Mountains backpacking “trail magic”

The only problem with this loop is the Lake Superior parking lot is about a mile and a half from the Lake in the Clouds parking lot. I had to walk along the road to get my car. Fortunately, I met two extremely nice people at the end of the trail named Larry and Kathy.

They gave me two snickers and a ride to my car. The Appalachian Trail hikers have a word for these acts of kindness along the trail. They call it “trail magic.”

Porcupine Mountains backpacking

Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Area – The Lake Superior Trail

Other loop options

This is just one loop to choose from. Another one starting from the same area is the Little Carp River to the Big Carp River Trail. This one starts and ends at Lake of the Clouds, so no need to find a nice couple to get a ride from. Union Bay Campground is another good starting point for another network of trails.

Instead of heading towards Lake Superior, you can also hike east on the Escarpment Trail and then loop back on the Government Peak Trail. You can then add one of the previous loops for a longer three or four day hike or head back to the Lake of the Clouds if only hiking a modest one night out in the woods.

Upper Peninsula Michigan

The North Country Trail goes through the park and follows the Little Carp River Trail and then the Lake Superior Trail to Presque Isle. For those interested in a longer trip, they can always do an out and back on the North Country Trail. When it is completed it will be 4,500 miles long, so one could walk to North Dakota or New York.

Adventure on!

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