Isle Royale National Park

The week before Labor Day, Bob and I packed our backpacks, and drove to the UP to begin our week-long adventure on Isle Royale National Park. Bob has been to Isle Royale before, and, since then, has talked about a return trip to hike all the way across the island. This was our year!

We splurged on two things: sea plane fares to the island and one night in the lodge at the end of our trip. Both were very worth it!

650px-IsleRoyaleMapOn Sunday, we flew into Windigo, on the western end of the island. We checked in at the Ranger Station, ate lunch, and were off. IMG_0992We started hiking South on the Feldtman Lake Trail (if you’re curious, click the map above), in hopes of seeing moose. We didn’t. Saw lots of moose footprints though! IMG_1006This is as close as we got to a moose sighting…

IMG_1026The bad news: the first couple of days were really hard. The trail was not often traveled, and it made for difficult hiking. On top of that, my body wasn’t used to hauling an additional 35 pounds. As such, my knee was complaining with every step, and my feet promptly produced 4 blisters.

The good news: life was grand after those first two days. We were on the Greenstone Trail, which follows the ridge up the center of the island. The Greenstone is the most traveled trail on the island, so hiking wasn’t as challenging (still challenging enough, don’t misunderstand!). Additionally, by then, my muscles and joints started to adjust.

IMG_1039Plus, the views! Trees and lakes for days.

IMG_1088Here’s what a day in the life on Isle Royale looked like for us:

  • Wake up.
  • One of us rolled sleeping bags and sleeping pads, and the other got breakfast out and started boiling water for coffee.
  • Eat breakfast (oatmeal and brown sugar).
  • Treat blisters. Put on hiking clothes and boots.
  • Filter water at whichever lake we were staying near.
  • Return to camp. Break down tent. Pack backpacks.
  • Hit the trail!
  • Hike at least half of our day’s miles.
  • Stop for lunch (tuna and crackers). Kick off the boots and let the feet breathe!
  • Hike the rest of the way.
  • Arrive at camp. Find a site and kick off the boots promptly!
  • Set up tent. Gather water filter supplies, soap, and camp clothes.
  • Walk down to whichever lake we were at for the night. Filter water, go for a dip to cool off and wash up.
  • Put on camp clothes. Return to camp. Make dinner.
  • Relax. Bob often fished in the evenings, and I read. We played a few games of cribbage (most of which he won).
  • Sleep. Blessed sleep.

Wash, rinse, repeat.


IMG_1085When we arrived at Rock Harbor, we had hiked a total of 62.6 miles over 6.5 days on the trail.

IMG_1128We spent one more night on the island, staying in the Rock Harbor Lodge. We enjoyed eating real food (burgers! fries! beer!), took showers, washed our clothes, and slept in a real bed with real pillows. Totally worth it.

The next day, we had some time before our plane arrived, so we enjoyed a breakfast that wasn’t oatmeal, and went for a short canoe trip.


This trip surprised me by how wonderful it was. We thoroughly enjoyed adventuring together and spending a week unplugged. It was a challenge, to be sure, but completely worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for a thing!

If you stumbled across this post because you are doing research for an upcoming trip to Isle Royale, feel free to contact me. I would love to share more in depth regarding our specific itinerary.

9 thoughts on “Isle Royale National Park

  1. If you say it was challenging, it is probably not for us, but perhaps one of the easier trails we could still do? You did not share your dinner meals with us. Did you have energy to cook a “real meal?”

    • You could definitely go! The ferry goes to Rock Harbor, on the East end of the island. There are many opportunities for hiking right around Rock Harbor, and it’s beautiful!

      Dinners were dehydrated meals. We had chili a couple of times, a broccoli cheddar soup, rice+chicken, and fettucini alfredo+chicken. All in all, we didn’t eat too poorly!

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