This really was one of the most beautiful views I've seen in my life. I cannot even begin to imagine how jaw dropping it must be to see in the fall. The lush green forest contrasted with the blue of the sky and water is breath-taking! And of course seeing the Porcupine Mountains in the distance is the icing on the cake!
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park - Lake of the Clouds, Overlook Trail, and Summit Peak Observation Tower
Back in October I announced that I was taking a break from my usual travel posts to focus on all our fall hiking adventures. We took so many fall weekend hikes this year, that it took months for me to cover them all! Now I would like to look back and share some trips we took this past summer. Like many Americans we had to cancel our spring vacation. We were supposed to take a trip to Smokey Mountain National Park last April and go to Yellowstone in the fall. We are keeping our fingers crossed that there will be no more lockdowns and we can still take those trips this year. In the meantime, I'd like to share some smaller trips we took once things did start opening up again in the summer.
We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary in August by spending a weekend in the Upper Peninsula at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This is a gorgeous park with so much to offer because it is located on one of our Great Lakes and thus has so much to do there!
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Michigan's largest state park at roughly 60,000 acres. Over 35,000 acres of the park are forests. There are beautiful waterfalls (you will see those in next week's travel post), rivers, streams, 90 miles of hiking trails, and of course the beautiful Lake Superior.
I took this shot from the car as we were entering the park. It thought it looked like we were driving right into the lake! Thank goodness for the sign at the end of the road, although I would not be comfortable driving this road in the dark.
We first stopped in the Visitor's Center to get a layout of the park and see which hikes we wanted to take. Many of the trails in the park are miles long and take days, weeks, to hike. They have very rustic cabins that you can rent inside the park if you are hiking one of the longer hikes. Because we were there only for one day, we decided to keep it simple and hike the Overlook Trail and the East and West River Trail (that will be in next week's travel post). We also were able to just drive to a couple of spots in the park to just get out and enjoy the scenic views.
The Overlook Trail is a 2.7 mile loop through a forest with steep uphill and downhill sections. It's supposed to have scenic views, but I think at the time of the year we were there, there was too much foliage on the trees which blocked the views. It's a very rustic trail, and there didn't seem to be many people on it in comparison to the more popular hot spots like Lake of the Clouds.
We did find these animal tracks in the mud which concerned me a bit. They were very large, so I knew they were not a dogs track. We couldn't figure out if they were bear tracks or cougars.
This was the best view we got on this trail. Like I said earlier, I think if you hiked this trail in the late fall or a warm winter day, you would see a lot more. The trail climbs to 1500 feet and there are two viewing areas. It is considered an intermediate trail because of the climb.
After our morning hike, we jumped back in the car to see the sight that this park is most famous for: the Lake of the Clouds. The viewing deck is only a short walk from the parking lot, and my oh my what a view it is!
The lake is fed by the Carp River and overflows into Lake Superior. It is one of the most popular sites in the park and so it is always very busy with visitors.
Our next stop was the Summit Peak Observation Tower. Again, we just jumped back in our car and drove to the Observation Tower parking lot. It's a short 0.9 miles to the tower with a lot of the trail being a boardwalk.
I was actually surprised to see this tower was open, because there are towers in Wisconsin that are not open due to Covid...which I think is absolutely ridiculous but I think they think that people just get too close to each other when climbing the tower and/or touch the hand rails.
The Summit Peak elevation is 1958 feet.
The views from the tower are spectacular. I love that you can see Lake Superior in the distance. It was hard to see where the sky ended and the lake began.
Again, I can't even imagine how gorgeous this view would be in the fall! Someday, we will have to visit this park in the fall to see the colors.
This is a view from the top of the tower looking down onto the boardwalk below,
They had a nice map at the top of the tower pointing out points of interest to see.
One of the drawbacks of waiting so long to do my travel posts is that I forget things...like where this picture was taken. I'm not sure what trail I was on when we found this viewing deck, but it sure was nice.
After a picnic lunch, we headed for our last hike of the day: the East and West River Trail. That was amazing and I can't wait to share it with you....next week!
Have A Great Day! Amy
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