Porcupine Mountains State Park

Many outdoor enthusiasts consider Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains State Park to be the Midwest’s crown jewel. The park contains nearly 60,000 acres of undisturbed wilderness.

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the park sits along the shoreline of Lake Superior. Inside the park are several waterfalls, diverse wildlife and a unique forest environment. Aside from that, numerous lakes and rivers flow through the park.

This collection of natural wonders creates opportunity for everyone to have an amazing outdoor experience. There are countless activities awaiting all visitors. Below are some of the best ways to enjoy Porcupine Mountains State Park.

Exploring the Landscape
The Porcupine Mountains rise to a peak of nearly 2000 feet. The park’s 35,000-acre forest is primarily made up of Sugar Maple and Eastern Hemlock trees. Certain trees that visitors will see are estimated to be over 200-years-old.

Throughout the park are waterfalls as well. Two of the most impressive are Manabezho Falls and Shining Cloud Falls. Views of Manabezho are easily accessible for most park visitors, while a backcountry journey is required to enjoy the beauty of Shining Cloud.

Hiking Trails
Porcupine Mountains State Park offers about 90 miles of hiking trails. Shorter hikes starting at just 0.5 miles are available for those with little time or less experience. Trails of greater difficulty and length can be found as well, with the longest being Lake Superior Trail at 17.1 miles.

Beaver Creek Trail (1.2 miles) quickly explores some of the park’s valleys and wetlands. North Mirror Lake Trail (3.8 miles) offers stunning views of the Lake-of-the-Clouds basin. The aforementioned Lake Superior Trail follows the lake’s picturesque shoreline, creating chances to see stunning rock formations that have been reshaped over thousands of years by natural erosion.

Viewing Wildlife
A wide array of different wildlife can be found within the park. The diverse landscape allows for several different species to thrive. Many visitors come to see the birds, mammals and amphibians that reside there.

Black Bears, bobcats, coyotes, gray wolves and several different types of hares all make the park home. Soaring above the area are Bald eagles, barred owls, great blue herons and Merlins. Other animals commonly spotted are wood frogs, yellow spotted salamanders and red-bellied snakes.

Several excellent fishing opportunities exist for those visiting Porcupine Mountains State Park. Both Lake Superior and inland waters of the park provide this. Those wishing to participate in the sport must obtain a Michigan fishing license before doing so.

Brook trout, coho salmon, steelhead and lake trout are commonly found in Lake Superior. Lake of the Clouds is known best for producing perch and small mouth bass. Presque Isle River, Carp River and Lilly Pond are also some of the park’s more popular spots with anglers.

A wide variety of camping is available to anyone wanting to stay within the park. Modern, rustic and back country tent sites are all options. Cabins and lodges can be rented on a limited basis, but generally require reservations far in advance.

Winter Activities
Despite Northern Michigan’s brutal winter weather, there is fun to be had at Porcupine Mountains State Park in the snow. Inside the park is Porcupine Mountains Ski Area, considered one the Midwest’s best skiing spots. Those who choose to ski there enjoy a 640′ vertical drop, which contains amazing views of Lake Superior from the top.

Most of the hiking trails are used for cross-country skiing in the winter. The park’s 26 mile Nordic Trail System contains several loops and is well maintained. Warming stations are available along the trail and kerosene lanterns illuminate it at night.