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Isle Royale National Park inland photo essay

Isle Royale National Park

Tobin Harbor Trail- Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royal National Park in Michigan is so beautiful I could easily do five to ten photo essays and still have enough photos left over. That would get a little ridiculous, so I am going to limit it to two.

One will be this one, which will focus on the inland portion of this fifty mile long by ten mile across island in Lake Superior. The other will concentrate on the Lake Superior shoreline.

The inland geography of Isle Royale is quite fascinating and it is amazing how it changes from one scenery to the next sometimes in minutes. You have hardwood and boreal forests, bogs, over 40 inland lakes, rocky dry cliffs and 1,500 foot mountains and ridges all within a small island. There are over 165 miles of hiking trails, so it is quite easy to explore.

Isle Royale National Park

Hiking through a boreal forest along the Tobin Harbor Trail in Isle Royale National Park

Unfortunately, unseasonably high temperatures and a problem filtering water hampered my ability to explore the island as much as I wanted to, but I did spend 6 nights camping and enjoyed my time. I look forward to returning later in the fall or earlier in the spring in order to avoid the warm temperatures. More on these issues will be forthcoming in later posts.

Isle Royale National Park

Tobin Harbor Trail – Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale is on many lists for the least visited U.S. national park; however, the captain of the ferry noted that according to the park service the island is one of the most re-visited parks in the system. I can see why after spending a week there and having hiked the park for two weeks when I was 10 years old with my dad. The park has a way of getting a hold of you and making you want to return. I hope you can see why through the photos in this post.

Isle Royale National Park

Hardwood forest – Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

An Isle Royale beaver pond

Isle Royale hiking trail

3% of the hiking trails in Isle Royale are planked according to the national park newsletter

Isle Royal National Park Michigan

Isle Royale planked hiking trail

Isle Royale National Park bog

Isle Royale bog

Isle Royale National Park

Another bog flanked with pine trees

Isle Royale National Park wildflowers

Beautiful wildflowers growing in an Isle Royale swamp


Isle Royale National Park Chickenbone Lake

Chickenbone Lake – One of the more than 40 inland lakes in this giant island

Isle Royale National Park

Many great views of the whole island can be found from the top of one of the many ridges and mountains

Isle Royale National Park hiking

Another planked trail over a beaver pond

Isle Royale National Park hiking

A planked trail going over a bog on the way to Daisy Farm

Isle Royale National Park

A look from the planked walkway in the above picture to the right

Isle Royale National Park

Now to the left

Isle Royale National Park

Small bridge heading away from McCargoe’s Cove

Isle Royale National Park

A hiking trail surrounded by green ferns

Isle Royale National Park Michigan

A swampy area near McCargoe’s Cove

Isle Royal National Park

Beautiful clouds hover over an Isle Royal marsh

Isle Royal National Park

Isle Royal National Park swamp

Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park hiking trail near McCargoe’s Cove

Isle Royale National Park

Approaching a ridge in Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Another planked trail

Isle Royale National Park

And another on the Stoll Trail

Isle Royale National Park

A rocky trail near Lake Superior in Isle Royale National Park


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38 Responses to Isle Royale National Park inland photo essay

  1. @mrsoaroundworld September 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    What a beautiful place. Love the photo of the wooden bridge
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..My hOtel: Sofitel London St James @sofitellondonsj

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Thank you Mrs. O. Due to the many bogs and swamps, there are many cool planked trails and wooden bridges.

  2. Jason's Travels September 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Great stuff. I look forward to the next installment!
    Jason’s Travels recently posted..Taking Anna on Her First Hike

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Thanks Jason,

      Hope you get a chance to visit sometime when you are back in the Midwest.

  3. Trips By Lance September 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Nice. Too bad the temps and water situation altered things.
    Trips By Lance recently posted..A Nashville Trip, a Table and Some Good Conversation

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

      Yea, it turned into a little bit of a debacle, but I still enjoyed being in the outdoors despite the set-backs.

  4. Pola (@jettingaround) September 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    This is beautiful indeed! I bet you had a hard time not posting all the pics you had from there. This goes on my “city girl goes hiking” bucket list, incl. the plank trail. No high heels on that one. 😉
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Around Krakow with my niece and camera

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Pola, I still have quite a bit to share. Such a beautiful island, and would be a great place for the city girl to check out. They have a lodge on the island too for a bit more comfort.

  5. Erin at The World Wanderer September 3, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    I have come to love the outdoors in the last year and a half and this photo essay was just what I needed after my first day back at work. What a beautiful, serene place! I will definitely be visiting one day.
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Five Ways to Experience Montréal.

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      I hope so Erin. You would love it.

  6. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures September 4, 2013 at 1:02 am #

    It’s SO gorgeous! I want to go hiking there!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Bluffton, South Carolina: Day 1

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      It is indeed gorgeous Andi. You would love to visit sometime.

  7. Francesca September 4, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    Amazing, Ted! Isle Royale has been on my Bucket List for some time. Don’t know that I’d go it alone, though 🙂 And 40+ inland lakes?! Wow! Because being IN Lake Superior just isn’t enough.
    Francesca recently posted..#CTC13: Capture The Color

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Amazing that an island can have so many lakes. It is something you need to mark off that bucket list.

  8. Mike (Nomadic Texan) September 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    These photos are fantastic and make one want to hike there. I can only hope that the mosquitoes aren’t as bad as in Texas. You would get eaten alive if this were in Texas! Safe Travels mi amigo!
    Mike (Nomadic Texan) recently posted..Photo of The Day #27

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Depending on the location in the island, the mosquitoes could be tolerable to downright nasty. There are a lot of swampy areas, so they thrive near the bogs and lakes.

  9. Aaron September 4, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Great photos Ted! Need to make it up that far north in Mitten sometime. Look forward to seeing your Lake Superior shots!
    Aaron recently posted..Photo(s) of the Week: Approaching an Alaskan Port.

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      I am not sure what Isle Royale would be called on the map of Michigan. It is not part of the mitten, but more like a torn off finger 🙂

  10. Leigh September 5, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    I love the look of the hardwood forest and I always like walking on planks – kind of reminds me of the West Coast Trail – though there they are slimy. I have taken to carrying water purifying droplets that weigh nothing and give you safe, drinkable water in 20 minutes with no aftertaste, I have a filter but it weighs a lot more.
    Our stove died at breakfast on our first morning out on Labor Day WE – and the prospect of cold coffee wan’t doing much for me. A nearby camper took pity on us and boiled up enough for a cup each. Gear failures remind us of just how vulnerable one can be outdoors.We’re trying another 3 day backpack in Jasper NP this weekend with a fixed stove.
    Leigh recently posted..My Love – Hate Affair With Backpacking

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      Water tablets don’t kill the tapeworm in Isle Royale. You need a water filter with a pore size of 0.4 microns or boil your water. Water tablets and steripens don’t work.

      One thing I love about travel is meeting great people who help you in your time of need. I had to different people pump water for me with their filter. I was very grateful for their help.

  11. Jay Gordon September 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    If you ever decide to do a calendar of your favorite photos, sign me up. You’re the best travel photographer around. It’s also no small matter that you’re also one of the best travel writers around.
    Jay Gordon recently posted..Cowboy poetry in Willits, Mendocino County (Photos)

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Thanks Jay,

      That is a great idea. I do have a wide range of pictures now to choose from.

  12. Kieu Nguyen September 6, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    So gorgeous! The plants over beaver pond is my fave. Although I wouldn’t dare hike on planks.. I would most definitely fall over.. or into the pond. Haha
    Kieu Nguyen recently posted..My Weekend Getaway Packing List

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm #


      With your dislike of mosquitoes, you would have other things to worry about than falling when hiking near the ponds of Isle Royale.

  13. the lazy travelers September 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    these pictures are all so relaxing. well done, tedward.
    the lazy travelers recently escapes: ditching melbourne for phillip island

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      Thanks Lazy Travelers! I am glad I could relax you.

  14. jill September 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Everything is soooo lush and green. I’m so not used to do that here in California especially at this time of the year.
    jill recently posted..30 Days, 3 Countries, One Daypack Challenge

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      Isle Royale gets a lot of rain and snow thanks to being in the middle of Lake Superior. It is sometimes like being in a rainforest.

  15. lola September 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    SO GREEN! looking over the photos…i was thinking soon a lot of that is going to turn to yellows and oranges. fall is on its way.
    lola recently posted..How to See Newport, RI Like a Modern-Day Heiress

    • Ted Nelson September 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      It is still hot here in Chicago, but cooler temps are on their way. I wish I could have experienced those temperatures here, but it was hot and humid. Made for great swimming though.

  16. Charu October 4, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    In some ways, it is so beautiful and unspoilt! Love the pictures.

    • Ted Nelson October 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

      Except for some planked trails, a few shelters, and a few towers, it is all nature on Isle Royale.

  17. Ms. "V" (Victoria Thomas Poller) October 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Simply beautiful pictures of “Fall”. Thank you Ted.

    • Ted Nelson October 19, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

      It was still summer when I hiked these trails. I wish it was fall as it was hot and buggy.

  18. Annie@GreenGlobalTravel October 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Such beautiful pictures, thank you so much for sharing these!
    Annie@GreenGlobalTravel recently posted..TAHITI: Pearl Diving in Bora Bora

  19. Andy May 9, 2014 at 4:07 am #

    Gorgeous pics Ted. Looks like a wonderful hike.
    Andy recently posted..Comment on A Peek at a Painter – Margaret Olley by Andy

    • Ted Nelson May 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks Andy,

      Isle Royale is an incredible place. I hope to get back soon.

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