Isle Royale – September
Jul 16, 2023 at 7:27 pm #3785320Jeff BurnsBPL Member
My 23 year old son and I are planning a trip to Isle Royale. We have a ferry booked into Rock Harbor on the 18th and return from Rock Harbor on the 25. This is after the lodge and all the other services shut down. Now we are planning our itinerary, and have some questions.
Neither of us care about covering lots of miles. I want to photograph the landscape and wildlife and will take a professional level camera. My son does not have any stated goals, but I think he would appreciate some variety. He was interested in renting a boat for a day, but the rental service shuts down before we arrive.
- What are the best places to see different aspects of the landscape?
- Where are the most productive wildlife viewing areas?
- For both of the above, what is the best time of day?
By the time we arrive there are no maximum stay restrictions at any of the campsights. This open up the possibility of staying in as few as one place the entire time and doing day trips. If we adopt this approch would we miss out on too much?
Given the late date of our trip we are wondering how minimalistic we can go on our shelter. If bugs are gone we could forgo the mesh inner tent, and save a pound. If we can be sure of getting into a shelter every night we could leave the tent at home.
Take a boat? We have a Long Haul Mark II folding kayak we could take. This is an extremely seaworthy boat that is well-suited for circumnavigating the island, but is quite heavy and difficult to move on land. If the weather cooperated it would be wonderful to paddle around Rock Harbor and carrying our supplies in a boat is easier than on our backs. As much fun as this could be, the boat would be a liability if the weather is bad. We do not have drysuits and will be by ourselves. Are there any practical ways to safely incorporate the boat into our trip?
Besides these questions any other suggestions would be appreciated.
JeffJul 17, 2023 at 7:35 am #3785336Sharon MBPL Member
@arkheel1Locale: Central North Carolina
We hiked Isle Royale in May of this year and loved being there. One note of caution about the interior lakes in the fall. We talked with a veteran Isle Royale hiker while we were there, and he told us that many of the interior lakes (Hatchet Lake, Lake Richie, etc.) have toxic, blue-green algae blooms in the fall, making them unsafe for drinking water.
If I were going back in the fall, I would avoid camping at and/or getting water from any of the interior lakes. That being said, we did have a wolf wander up very close to our campsite at Lake Richie, which was probably the highlight of our trip.Jul 17, 2023 at 2:54 pm #3785358Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Two trails that cover all the aspects of what you are looking for; wildlife (wolves, moose, fox), landscapes, island history, photography). the time of the yr you should have NO issues with bugs. Shelters & Tent possibilities. Boating is better suited in the East & Mid portions and routes N & S in & out of Superior.Jul 17, 2023 at 4:49 pm #3785367Jeff BurnsBPL Member
Thanks for the trail suggestions. Since we arrive and depart from Rock Harbor these will have to wait for a future trip.
JeffJul 18, 2023 at 5:46 am #3785385Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Jeff……..”many of the interior lakes (Hatchet Lake, Lake Richie, etc.) have toxic, blue-green algae blooms starting in August,… This is usually posted by mid August on the National Park Website at the ALERTS icon. There are way to get water in those area as there are places where water is not contaminated.
The major trails (e.g Greenstone) you will encounter many hikers, and you may find the shelters to be full. At one time the days prior to closing the park in September were the excellent time to hike, as senior citizens hikers & few couples were the predominant …but that has changed in the last three years. You can hike Cross County and the information is needed is… https://www.nps.gov/isro/planyourvisit/cross-country-camping.htm
The Long Haul Mark II folding kayak and hiking would fit in the Malone Bay Area:Aug 3, 2023 at 10:01 pm #3786193Francis DeRoosBPL Member
Jeff, Isle Royale is a wonderful wilderness and a special place to share with your son. My wife and 2 college graduate children hiked there last year in September and they’re still talking about it. We spent 3 nights on the island and had Moose grazing around our tents in Daisy Farm CG. The farther you get from Rock Harbor, the greater the solitude.
Re: goals – if photography and diversity are your primary goals then the more days you spend on the island the better. Weather and time of day are the drivers for your photographic inspiration. There are 3 major ‘environments’ on the island. The taller spine that runs down the middle of the island – Greenridge Trail – has lovely vistas and the leaves will be starting to change. The second are the inner lakes. Marshy on the edges and almost mystical, esp in AM. The third is the ocean edges. the trails are dense, lush, and the water is always in the air.
If you are organized and get into camps early enough, you should be able to get into a shelter each night. That said, I would prefer the flexibility of taking a tent in that it will allow you to spend much less time on the “agenda” and more time in your surroundings. Isle Royale is a land of intimate wilderness and subtle beauty that requires a bit of wandering and spontaneous lingering to fully appreciate. Enjoy the vistas and unique observations and don’t worry so much about where you’ll end up. there are plenty of campgrounds and the trails are easy to navigate.
re: kayak – taking your kayak will be a very, very different, and equally rewarding experience (if not more so) I saw 2 groups who had circumnavigated the island on their adventure there. If you look on the map you can see the protective ‘ridges’ of land surrounding the eastern 1/3 of the island. these are very protective. If you have portaged w/ this kayak and 2 full packs, that opens up a few more inland possibilities or even an opportunity to transect the island.
The hardest part of isle royale is getting there. Enjoy this exquisitely unique wilderness.
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