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Backpacking the Superior Trail in Michigan’s Porcupine State Park

Looking for a wilderness back country hike through old growth forest with the added bonus of camping along the crystal blue waters of Lake Superior?  If so, head to Michigan’s Porcupine Mountain State Park for a hike on the Lake Superior Trail that you will never forget.  We spent two nights hiking about 10 miles of the 17 mile trail (click here for a map) which meanders in and out of the forest along the shoreline of Lake Superior.  With beautiful views, large private campsites, cool water to swim in during breaks, and sunsets you will never forget, backpacking the Superior Trail is well worth the frequent mud bogs you must plow through and the countless black fly and mosquito bites you are sure to endure.  While the muddy areas did make for slower hiking at times, there isn’t a great deal of elevation change along the lake so hiking is fairly easy. We used this to our advantage to allow for plenty of time for swimming during breaks and in the evenings.


Backpacking Superior Trail in Porcupine State Park

If you go:

Although we didn’t encounter any, bears are common in the Porkies and precautions must be taken to secure food and all scented items while backpacking the Superior Trail.  Bear poles are located at various campsites throughout the trail to easily hang food, cooking gear and toiletries.  If you decide to camp at a site without a bear pole, food and other strong smelling items must be hung at least 12 feet high. Click here for the back country map showing bear pole locations.

In addition, we made sure to carry Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Pepper Spray on the outside of Dave’s pack.  While I probably wouldn’t think this was worth the added weight if it was just Dave and I, we always are extra cautious because we are hiking with kids.

While dispersed camping is allowed, designated sites are spacious with fire rings surrounded by large sitting rocks and logs.  Sites are first come, first served, but we found plenty of availability during a beautiful weekend in July.  There are also rustic cabins located throughout the park, including along the Lake Superior Trail.  These cabins can be reserved here, but no pets are allowed and since we had our pup with us, weren’t an option.

Back country fees are $15 per night per site.  In addition, a Michigan Recreation Passport is required to enter state parks.  Passes for non-residents are $31 for the year, and can be purchased online here or in person at the state park you are visiting.

As in all wilderness areas, Leave No Trace principles should be followed. 

If you are planning on backpacking the Superior Trail during the summer, bring the strongest bug spray you can tolerate.  We found that Repel 100 Insect Repellent Pump Spray with DEET worked well. During the day it wasn’t too bad and we enjoyed hiking, but sunrise and just after sunset was a mosquito and biting fly bloodbath if the repellent wore off. In addition, we all wore a Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net when packing up each morning.  I think we would have gone crazy without them!

Dogs are allowed on the trails throughout the park but must remain on leash.  Make sure they are up to date on heartworm and tick prevention medication for obvious reasons!

Water is plentiful while backpacking the Superior Trail from Lake Superior, but should still be treated.  We used our SteriPEN Adventurer UV Water Purifier and had no issues.

Even with the crazy bugs and muddy trails, we loved backpacking here and would return again in a heartbeat.  Camping on what felt like a private beach was well worth the occasional discomfort. 

Happy travels!

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