ATTENTION: If you are having problems logging into the forum, please delete your browser's cookies.

Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

Moderator: MikeT

Post Reply

Topic author
OutdoorSal
NewbieCake
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:15 pm

Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by OutdoorSal » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:06 pm

Hello
My son (26) and I (66) are considering a trip to Isle Royale in early to mid August. We thought it would be fun to canoe the inland lakes (no Lake Superior) rather than backpack. However, we will have to rent the canoe from Rock Harbor, so it won't be the lightest. We have canoe experience in the boundary waters where we used an outfitter. I have several questions and would appreciate your opinions.

Our tentative route is from Rock Harbor to Moskey Basin to Lake Richie and then catch the Voyageur II at McCargoe Cove. We were allowing 4 nights.
Is that a good route and enough or too much time?

Do people in canoes typically use backpack gear or camping gear? Hiking boots or athletic shoes?

Thanks for your insight!
OutdoorSal

User avatar

Ingo
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1443
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 10
Location: Hillsborough, NC

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by Ingo » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:39 pm

Are you driving from CO? Is so, I'd suggest taking the Voyageur II out of Grand Portage and go across the inland lakes. The VII also rents canoes, and bound to be in better shape than what the lodge has. So something like this:
Day 1 - Debark McCargoe Cove. Stay there and hike to the mine. Alternatively, head for Chickenbone right off the boat, get that portage out of the way, and shorten day 2. But I like McCargoe.
Day 2 - McCargoe to Lake Richie. Longest day with 4 portages, but perfectly doable.
Day 3 - Richie to Wood Lake. Crossing Siskiwit can be dicey with a SW wind, as it's a 7 mile long lake, but you can wait it out if you need to.
Day 4 - Wood to Chippewa Harbor.
Day 5 - Catch the VII back in the morning.
Here's a log of that route from some years back: http://moskeybasin.com/Isle_Royale/IR_Log_2002.html. Note that the 1st portage now starts at the dock (instead of up the creek), so it's longer. Also, Ryden's restaurant closed, so breakfast is now snacks from the convenience store.

If you must come/go from Rock Harbor, then it's a good plan. But you do start with a 10 mile paddle on a large bay, and then a 2+ mile portage, which is why I suggest the other. In any case, something like:
Day 1: Get as far down Rock Harbor as time and weather allows. Three Mile, Caribou Island, Daisy Farm, or even Moskey Basin.
Day 2: Lake Richie. The Moskey/Richie portage is as much as I care to do in a day, so wouldn't want to go farther. It's relatively flat at least, just long!
Day 3: Chickenbone Lake. Or on to McCargoe.
Day 4: Get to McCargoe to catch the VII (remember that Rock Harbor is on EDT and the VII runs on CDT). So by 11:00 by Rock Harbor time (EDT).
Day 5: Home from R.H.

When canoeing I bring a few things I don't when backpacking: camp chairs, larger tarp, a change of clothes (in case of a dunking), and a wider sleeping pad. And pack everything in dry bags and then a portage pack (aka Duluth pack). Otherwise the same gear, and a regular pack will do if that's what you have. These days I pretty much stick to freeze dried foods either way. I wear my hiking boots when canoeing, mostly for ankle protection on portages. Also bring Crocs for camp shoes that I can change into if I know it's inevitable the feet are getting wet anyways.

Have a great trip, and make your son portage the canoe :D !

User avatar

Ingo
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1443
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 10
Location: Hillsborough, NC

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by Ingo » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:41 pm

FYI, I deleted your duplicate post in Gear and Supplies, since it's more appropriate here.


Topic author
OutdoorSal
NewbieCake
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:15 pm

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by OutdoorSal » Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:22 pm

Thanks for the insight. I really appreciate it, you are super helpful. We're flying from Colorado and renting a car in Minneapolis to drive to Copper Harbor. We wanted to go from Grand Portage so we were thinking the same route you suggested. I talked to the people at Windigo about renting canoes from there and they said they don't allow the canoes to go out of Washington Harbor. I thought about renting a canoe in Grand Portage but couldn't find a place. So that's why we decided to go from Rock Harbor. The other trip we considered was Rock Harbor to Duncan Bay and end at Belle Island. Your thoughts on that idea? Also, do you think we will be able to camp at Rock Harbor the last night--I know we won't be there is time to take the boat back to Copper Harbor. We thought it would be fun to canoe because we don't get to do lake to lake in Colorado. Is it fun to canoe in the inland lakes in Isle Royale?

User avatar

Ingo
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1443
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 10
Location: Hillsborough, NC

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by Ingo » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:12 pm

That helps. I live in NC, and have done many canoe trips to IR, with and without my own canoe, so completely understand the logistical issues. So, I'm probably going to complicate things here :roll: ...

Although the Voyageur II doesn't advertise it, they do have canoes to rent, unless they stopped doing it. First thing I'd do is call them and verify. If that works, that would be my first choice, with one of the following routes:

(a) McCargoe Cove -> Chippewa Harbor, outlined in other post. This would feel similar to the BWCA. And probably better fishing, if that's on the agenda (for me, who only has a vague clue, anyways). And no particularly nasty portages. It is a little more remote than (b), with only tent sites and no boats on the inland lakes.

(b) Belle Isle -> Rock Harbor, reverse of what you suggested. This has a different feel being on Lake Superior, even though you're in relatively protected waters. Also a pretty relaxed trip (and close to what I'll be doing later this year). Most of the campgrounds have shelters, although you do need to bring a tent in case they're full.
Day 1: Belle Isle. Probably my favorite campground with a beautiful cove. Get up early for the sunrise!
Day 2: Paddle to Lane Cove and hike up to Mt Franklin for view of the north side and Canada. Either return to Belle Isle (has shelters) or camp at Lane Cove (tents only).
Day 3: Duncan Bay or Duncan Narrows, 2 short and easy portages. Five Fingers Bay is fun to explore (when the weather's good).
Day 4: Duncan Bay to Rock Harbor. This has a tough portage, about .8 miles and 200' up and over the ridge. The north side is very steep with most of the elevation climb in about 1/8 mile and switchbacks at the top. But I'd rather do it than the Moskey -> Richie one, for comparison. In Rock Harbor hike out to Scoville Pt in the afternoon or evening.

If the VII doesn't rent canoes any more, or aren't available, you could try Bear Track Outfitters in Grand Marais, about 35 miles from Grand Portage. I rented from them many years ago, so I'd want to verify they're still OK with taking one out to the island. I'd be a little nervous about putting it on a rental car, although I'd probably do it anyways.

And if, in the end you do go from C.H. and rent from the lodge, I also like the R.H. to Belle Isle idea. Going that direction is not quite as convenient with needing an extra day or 2 to catch the VII and then the Queen, but you could paddle there and back if you're up to doing the Tobin/Duncan portage twice. Many decades ago I worked in RH and would canoe to Belle Isle after work (around 4) and get there around sundown--and then back the next day, since we only had 1 day off. But I'm past those days...

And yes, you would camp at R.H. the last night with any of these itineraries.

You seem to have a good grasp of the options, and in the end they're all great trips.


Topic author
OutdoorSal
NewbieCake
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:15 pm

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by OutdoorSal » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:24 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write me back. You are very helpful. I may be back with more questions; but I think you've done a great job of giving me some valuable information.

Son will definitely portage the canoe.

User avatar

MikeT
IR Pro
Posts: 352
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:32 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 23
Location: Port Sanilac, Michigan
Contact:

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by MikeT » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:10 am

Grand Portage Isle Royale Transportation Lines rents canoes. they are $30 per day $175 week 17' aluminum canoe w/paddles and 2 PFDs. (Does not include transportation to or from the island).

I would think your best bet for the first time is the McCargoe to Chippewa or Malone Bay route. The Belle Isle route is much more dangerous depending on conditions. The Duncan to Tobin portage is hard and would be hell with an aluminum canoe.

Edit: For clarity, moderator added full name of company that rents canoes.
Mike T.
"Isle Royale Info - A Comprehensive Guide to Isle Royale National Park" available at: http://www.isleroyale.info
"Isle Royale Itinerary Generator" an intuitive program to create and manage itineraries. Description at: http://www.isleroyale.info/ig_description.html
"Half the fun is in the planning"

User avatar

hooky
IR Expert
Posts: 532
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:26 am
Isle Royale Visits: 2
Location: Central Indiana

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by hooky » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:17 am

Here's a list of outfitters over in MN that may be able to help with your canoe rental. You'll want to look at a map to see where they're located so you're not driving out of your way.

https://www.visitcookcounty.com/service ... rs-guides/
Last edited by hooky on Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Topic author
OutdoorSal
NewbieCake
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:15 pm

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by OutdoorSal » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:16 pm

Thanks for the info! I'll check into them.


Topic author
OutdoorSal
NewbieCake
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:15 pm

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by OutdoorSal » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:41 pm

Which route has the best potential for moose sightings?

User avatar

Ingo
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1443
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 10
Location: Hillsborough, NC

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by Ingo » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:50 pm

OutdoorSal wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:41 pm
Which route has the best potential for moose sightings?
Probably the inland lakes. They're everywhere, as the moose berries (aka poop) will testify, but I'm having a hard time remembering if I've ever actually seen one in the Belle Isle/Duncan Bay area.


kolo
LNT Expert
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:48 am
Isle Royale Visits: 10

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by kolo » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:35 pm

If the VII doesn't rent canoes any more, or aren't available, you could try Bear Track Outfitters in Grand Marais, about 35 miles from Grand Portage. I rented from them many years ago, so I'd want to verify they're still OK with taking one out to the island.
Bear Track Outfitters will let you rent a canoe to use at Isle Royale. In the last four years I have taken two canoe trips, one just last summer (2017). They are an excellent outfitter and I can't say enough about how happy I am renting from them; I highly recommend them. David and Cathi are very helpful, genuine, and good people.

User avatar

Ingo
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1443
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 10
Location: Hillsborough, NC

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by Ingo » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:01 pm

kolo wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:35 pm
If the VII doesn't rent canoes any more, or aren't available, you could try Bear Track Outfitters in Grand Marais, about 35 miles from Grand Portage. I rented from them many years ago, so I'd want to verify they're still OK with taking one out to the island.
Bear Track Outfitters will let you rent a canoe to use at Isle Royale. In the last four years I have taken two canoe trips, one just last summer (2017). They are an excellent outfitter and I can't say enough about how happy I am renting from them; I highly recommend them. David and Cathi are very helpful, genuine, and good people.
Good to know things haven't changed in the last, oh, 15-20 yrs :). Thanks!


Topic author
OutdoorSal
NewbieCake
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:15 pm

Re: Colorado Hikers to Isle Royale

Post by OutdoorSal » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:58 pm

Hi
Both Voyageur II and Bear Creek rent canoes. Bear Creek canoes come with roof racks, so you can take them on a rental canoe. Thanks everyone for the information.

What advice do you have about water. Does it happen that the whole lake would be covered in that green algae? I know the water has to be filtered, but the NPS site said that even filtering doesn't work when the water is covered in algae.

I appreciate your time and your insight.

OutdoorSal

Post Reply