Approximately Seven Miles Hiking
Summer road trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Click here for the route we took on our road trip through Michigan.
Once our packs were weighed, we had visited the last bathroom with running water for a while, we were full from the yummy food at the Greenstone Grill, and we had filled our water bottles from the safe to drink tap at Rock Harbor, we were finally ready to go. Whew! There’s a lot to do to get ready to go camping in the woods! Our destination was Rock Harbor to Lane Cove. We picked this spot as our destination for our first two nights because of its more remote location away from the hustle and bustle of the Rock Harbor area. Click here to see a more detailed map showing the locations of various campgrounds and trails across the island. We started walking south east down the Tobin Harbor trail. With gentle climbs and dips, it was a nice trail to start on. It also was surrounded by tall trees so there was a good deal of welcome shade from the hot July sun.
The trail goes for 1.8 miles through mostly shaded forest before it leads to the Mount Franklin Trail. Here we took a quick break to adjust our packs and drink some water. The packs always feel so heavy to all of us on the first day of a backpacking trip! We saw several people who were staying at the Rock Harbor Lodge out for day hikes and we chatted with them.
All across Isle Royale planks bridge over the wet spots in the trail. We were very thankful for these fun little bridges which kept our boots dry! The Mount Franklin Trail took us 1.5 miles through plank topped grassy wetlands before beginning a steep climb up the Greenstone Ridge. The climb was pretty steep and we were winded when we reached the top so we took another quick break in the welcome shade. Isle Royale was experiencing a heat wave during our trip with sunny skies and highs in the 80’s most days. On some of the exposed areas it felt quite hot. At this point the trail junctions with the Greenstone Ridge Trail and the Lane Cove Trail.
After a nice break, we headed down the approximately 2.5 mile Lane Cove Trail where we would camp for two nights. The trail switchbacks steeply down the ridge heading towards the north east section of the island and what is known as the Five Fingers because of the long bays and coves. The kids were happy and chattering about how they love hiking down hill and I didn’t remind them that we would be going back up this trail in a couple days. It wasn’t long before we saw beautiful northern views of Lake Superior.
We could feel the trail evening out and we walked over several more plank walkways before one last rise and dip to reach the Lane Cove Campground area.
When we arrived we were a little worried to discover that the 5 official camp sites were all occupied. After looking around we saw that site 5 had an extra flat little clearing to the side of it. It actually seemed like an additional site so we asked the sole camper in site 5 if he minded that we set up camp here. He didn’t mind so we set up our tents in the woods on the shore of beautiful Lake Superior.
After setting up camp, the kids played in the shallow water and tried their hand at fishing while I cooked dinner. We had carried in hot dogs for our first night and meals I had dehydrated for the rest of the trip. Something as simple as hot dogs tasted absolutely divine after our long day outside during our ferry voyage and hike. Lane Cove was a perfect start to our visit on Isle Royale. It was quiet and serene and unbelievably beautiful when the sun started to set over Lake Superior with the Canada shore in the horizon. It felt like we were in another world.
We soaked in the beauty and just enjoyed each other. With no cell phone coverage throughout our entire stay we had a welcome respite from the chaos of our typical life. I treasure these times in the wilderness where my attention is not divided and I can really enjoy my amazing children.
As the sun set, more mosquitos came out so eventually we climbed into our tents and I read a ghost story for the kids from Haunted Lakes: Great Lakes Ghost Stories, Superstitions and Sea Serpents