Every national park has a trail or two perfect for those who just want a short hike and see beautiful scenery conveniently located off a main park road. Isle Royale National Park is a little different than most parks since it is in the middle of Lake Superior, so even getting there is an adventure. The closest thing that Isle Royale has to an easy convenient trail is the Stoll Trail.
165 miles of trails
Isle Royale has 165 miles of hiking trails. A majority of visitors that come to Isle Royale are hardcore adventurers intent on hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or fishing in the interior. However, there is a lodge at Rock Harbor for those who want a little more comfort with a couple of restaurants as well.
The Stoll Trail
The Stoll Trail is a 4.2 mile round trip hike from Rock Harbor. Most of the people that hike this trail are people staying at Rock Harbor. Hikers intent on exploring the interior immediately set off on the Rock Harbor Trail or the Tobin Harbor Trail in order to explore the beautiful interior or hike the Lake Superior shoreline.
Many of these hikers will never set foot on the Stoll Trail. I had no intention of hiking it myself as I planned a pretty intense inland hike. My trip did not go as planned, and I was unable to hike as much as I intended due to high heat and water filtration problems. I ended up hiking into Rock Harbor a day earlier than planned in order to get water.
A great trail before the ferry leaves
The ferry leaves at 2:45 p.m. for Rock Harbor. I was thinking about trying to catch a ride on the ferry the day before, but I made it into the Rock Harbor shelter a little after 3 p.m. after my 15 mile hike from McCargoe’s Cove. I ended up having a steak dinner and enjoying a night in semi civilization.
The next day I had some time to kill before my 2:45 ferry. I was thinking about renting a kayak, but after spending $70.00 at dinner, I decided on a more frugal option. While going to dinner I saw a sign for the Stoll Trail. I looked at the map and saw it was a 2.1 trail one-way to the far eastern point of the island.
Stoll Trail gives a good picture of the Isle Royal ecosystem
The Stoll Trail starts at Rock Harbor and goes east along the Lake Superior shoreline. It also dodges into a boreal forest from time-to-time, so for such a short trail, it gives a good idea of what hiking the more rugged interior is like.
The views of Rock Harbor and the Lake Superior shoreline are spectacular. Each view seemed better than the previous one. For me who was disappointed to not see as much of the island as I wanted to, this was a pleasant way to end my time in Isle Royale. It was a trail I would have never discovered had it not been for the bad luck and bad planning I experienced earlier in the week.
Named after Detroit journalist
The Stoll Trail is named after Detroit journalist Albert Stoll Jr. who was instrumental in lobbying for protection for the island back in the 1920s. We have him and many others to thank for this beautiful slice of protected wilderness.
After 2.1 miles the trail ends at Scoville Point with a plaque dedicated to Mr. Stoll. More great views of Lake Superior are found here before returning back to Rock Harbor. You can either go back the way you came along Lake Superior, or there is an alternative trail that follows Tobin Harbor. The views along Tobin Harbor are not as amazing as the Rock Harbor side, but it is worth going on this section just to mix it up.
Two hour hike
I arrived back in Rock Harbor after a lovely 2 hour hike with a half hour to spare before my ferry departed. As I was waiting in line to give the crew my boarding pass there was a couple who was leaving on the ferry via standby as they were scheduled to leave later in the week. The captain said they could join, but they had to sit in the back. They said that was fine for they just wanted to leave ASAP.
I could sympathize with their plight as the hot weather made it tough for hikers on Isle Royale during this unseasonably warm and humid week. I too had thought about leaving the day before. As I looked out the back of the ferry, and Isle Royale became just a shadow in the distance and eventually disappeared swallowed by the massiveness of Lake Superior, I was glad that my last impression of this beautiful island was the scenic Stoll Trail.
Even though this trail is close to the Rock Harbor Lodge, it is still a wilderness trail and is rugged and rocky. Due to its length and mid level difficulty, it should not be attempted by everyone. Know your limitations.
Check out Isle Royal National Park’s website for more information.
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I was looking quickly and I thought it said Stoli Trail and I was ready for some vodka-infused adventures. This, however, was not a disappointing detour.
SnarkyNomad recently posted..5 of the best travel backpacks for global adventures
Funny you mention vodka as I was kind of hung over from mixing vodka and crystal light the night before, but it was Smirnoff not Stoli.
I’m very particular about hiking near bodies of water. This looks exceptional. (Like your new banner, too.)
Michael Schuermann recently posted..No Frills Island Tour in Mallorca
Thanks for the kind words about my banner and photos. This was a pleasant way to end a frustrating trip.
Absolutely stunning photos, ted. And love the new blog design.
@mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Ice, Ice, baby – a journey with @quarkexpedition by @devonone
Thank you Mrs. O for the Design Crowd recommendation.
This is beautiful, Ted! It’s been a while since I’ve been hiking, and your post reminds me of why I love it so much. So inspired by your Isle Royale posts!
Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Youth.
This is the perfect season for hiking. I hope you get a chance to get out soon.
The scenery looks very reminiscent of what I was in just 10 days ago. Even though the hiking can be tough you have to love anything with a close-up view of Lake Superior. You certainly made the most of a bad situation. I had not appreciated just how much hiking was available on the island,
Leigh recently posted..A Day From Hell on the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park
Isle Royale is a hiker’s paradise. I hope to get back again soon and take advantage of more of the trails. I have loved your recent Lake Superior adventure as it reminds me of mine and the photos are great.
What a beautiful corner of our country. Thanks for continuing to explore and share!
Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Photo Essay – Anatomy of Lioness Kill in the Serengeti
Isle Royale is one of the least visited parks, so it needs some love and attention.
Definitely a beautiful place. A shame you didn’t get to do your planned hike, but the steak dinner sounds like it must have been a good trade. For $70, that was either one heck of a steak, or the beer/whiskey selection was extensive:)
D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Adventures with Uncle Deej at the Grande Lakes Resort
I think the steak was around $35.00. I had two beers plus a delicious blueberry cobbler plus tip.
I had no idea there is a lodge on Isle Royale. Not that I’d stay there but it is nice to know… Wonderful photos, Ted. I just love Lake Superior and I’ve told you before, Isle Royale is on my bucket list!
Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..Charismatic Cape Girardeau: A photo essay
The lodge is the only option for staying outside of remote campsite. Many of the campgrounds have shelters though. I wouldn’t mind staying there one night.
What beautiful scenery. I could totally do the Stoll Trail. At only 4.2 miles, it’s a walk in the park…no pun intended. Love the new design, by the way.
Leah recently posted..48 Hours in Vienna: Highlights of Austria’s Imperial City
The trail is not too difficult with virtually no elevation gained or lost. Just a bit rocky at points, but you could definitely do it.
we know our limitations. meet you for the $70 steak you mentioned instead?
the lazy travelers recently posted..no travel required: #frifotos
Sounds good lazy travelers.
“hardcore adventurers intent on hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or fishing in the interior” sounds just like me right? 😉 Looks gorgeous there!
lola dimarco recently posted..i spy eye candy! – Los Angeles
It sure is Lola. I could definitely see you conquering Isle Royale 🙂
Awesome views and photos! I’m really discovering more of the Midwest, thanks to you.
Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Featured Photos: Streets of Krakow at sunrise
Look forward to see you Jet Around more in the Midwest.
Looks like a great hike! incredible views- thanks for sharing!
Bridget @ GreenGlobalTravel recently posted..Announcing Our Next Big Adventure!
It is pretty cold and snowy up there right now, but hiking season is slowly approaching.