Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Questions about how to get to the island and where to stay near points of departure.

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Hoosierhiker
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Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by Hoosierhiker »

Newbie to the island and doing some research and going solo backpacking. I've learned you got to plan for the island. Just brainstorming on an itinerary and thought of taking the Greenstone Trail across the Island (could go either direction). But logistics are my problem. Im from Indiana and would drive to Copper Harbor (maybe Houghton) and take the ferry from Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor, then take 4 to 5 days to hike across the Greenstone or other trail to Windigo. That would be great, but how do i get from Windigo back to Rock Harbor or even another way back to Copper Harbor, where my car would be parked. I really don't have time or energy to hike back across the Island. Is there a way that's not to financially expensive to make this happen. Looks like water taxi doesn't go from Windigo to Rock Harbor and would be real expensive. Someone has to have done this before. Im on a budget, and Sea plane looks expensive. Any ideas?

Im probably just going to settle and take a 4 day hiking trip around the Eastern side of the island using one of the typical itineraries. That would be fun also.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by thesneakymonkey »

Seaplane or voyager ferry are your options.
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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by Ingo »

Hoosierhiker wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:04 am
Im probably just going to settle and take a 4 day hiking trip around the Eastern side of the island using one of the typical itineraries. That would be fun also.
I think that's your best bet from the UP. A lot of folks want to hike end-to-end just because it seems like the thing to do, but some of the best the island has to offer is off the ridge trail.
If you're willing to drive to Grand Portage for the boat you have more options: (a) do the Feldtmann loop on the west end, with Huginnin Cove if you have the time and inclination; (b) take the Voyageur II to Rock Harbor and pick it up at Windigo; (c) start at McCargoe Cove and go either direction.
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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by bobcat »

One minor complication is that the Ranger III from Houghton never arrives in synch with the Voyager. You may be better off taking the Isle Royale Queen from Copper Harbor because it runs nearly every day, instead of the Ranger which is cheaper and free parking but only runs twice a week.

If it were me, I would take the IR Queen outbound, timed to the Voyager schedule. Stay 1 night in RH. Plenty of ways to spend a half-day in the RH area. Next morning, ride the Voyager from RH to Windigo, and then hike back to RH. That way, while you are hiking you've already done the connecting ferries business. One less thing to pressure your hike. The end-to-end hike is the classic introduction to Isle Royale!

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by Hoosierhiker »

That makes sense. Maybe a simpler route would be to drive to Grand Portage instead of Copper Harbor or Houghton. The drive would be 150 miles more. But I could take the Voyager from Grand Portage to all the way to Rock Harbor. I didn't realize it made stops around the island Then I hike back to Windigo and then take the Voyager back to Grand Portage. The Cons would be I have to drive 300 net more miles. But I could pull if off. Also a shorter boat ride to Grand Portage might be nicer. Less likely to get sea sick.

Just curious what happens if you miss a ferry back to mainland to Copper Harbor and then the following ferries are sold out. Do the Ferry services help you out if you're in a bad situation like that and still give you a ride on the next ferry. I got this fear of missing a ferry and being stuck on the island.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by bobcat »

Yes, if you can drive to Grand Portage Minnesota and take the Voyager for your whole trip, that is the simple way. Also, returning home from Windigo to Grand Portage, the Sea Hunter is a back-up option, run by the same company and goes to the same place, daily. But better not to miss your planned ferry😀.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by Base654 »

Consider the seaplane both ways. You can schedule an early departure and a late return. Effectively giving yourself two extra days on the island. after the price of a Ranger III ticket you will pay 230 more. The plane will drop off on one end and pick up on the other for the same fare.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by bobcat »

Seaplane is a more expensive but quicker option. But, the seaplane is the most likely to be affected by weather. Just another factor to consider. Delays due to morning fog, high winds, stormy weather, etc. This may be worst case, but I once spent several days in Windigo, and there were two hikers hanging out on their third day of waiting for the seaplane to make it in to pick them up. It happens.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by Hoosierhiker »

Bobcat1, How often do they have fog or other bad weather resulting in delays. Looks like the seaplane would be an option. The ride looks fun. Just curious. How long would you generally give an average time to hike across the island. Would it be reasonable for an average hiker to fly in on a Sunday morning to Windigo, hike across island and then and catch plane back Thursday afternoon?

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by bobcat »

When are you thinking? Generally speaking, mi-July to mid-August is the most settled weather. But any given day, who knows? Maybe the seaplane company can give you a statistic for on time arrivals or similar.

As far as hiking time, that varies according to your daily mileage, which depends on your personal hiking habits, like how many hours are you actually hiking down the trail as opposed to taking photos, sleeping late, cooking lunch etc. 5 days is very doable if you can handle one 11-mile day and the rest 6-8 miles. Even better if you can do 2 days of 11 miles, giving yourself a short last day and time to spend either renting a canoe in Tobin Harbor or hiking Scoville Point. Your campsites would be South Desor, Hatchet Lake, West Chickenbone, 3-mile via Mt Franklin.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by Midwest Ed »

Hoosierhiker wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:22 pm
How often do they have fog or other bad weather resulting in delays. Looks like the seaplane would be an option.
Seaplane delays are more frequent than ferry delays but are measured in minutes or hours. Ferry delays are often (but not always) the entire day. A ferry might only have 1 or 2 interruptions per season while the seaplane could have several. Large storms or wind blows interfering with ferries tend to happen much later in the season as Autumn approaches. As Bobcat pointed out, the early and late season generate more fog than during the Summer which interferes with landing a plane. The fog generally "burns off" so the day's schedules just get pushed back. Seaplane interruptions can occur during the middle of Summer as well but most often due to thunder storms. Unlike commercial airlines that try to fly around a storm, the seaplane just waits it out, typically causing a short delay. If your flight happens to be scheduled near the end of the day that could mean it gets bumped to the following day. I would expect a call to the seaplane office would result in a quite fair assessment of their history. As an experiment I just spent a few minutes reviewing the entire month of June 2019 webcam footage from one of Michigan Tech's locations in Houghton. While not quite as exposed to the elements as is The Island, I only saw one morning where it looked like fog would have been an issue; but where it matters of course is landing on the Island.

Hoosierhiker wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:28 pm
I got this fear of missing a ferry and being stuck on the island.
You might end up like Angelique Mott. Just kidding of course. I'm sure the park service hasn't left anyone behind.

Edits in italics added for clarification.
Last edited by Midwest Ed on Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by hooky »

Hoosier here also. If you're set on an end to end hike, I would drive to Grand Portage. You'll be in RH on the same day you leave and could take the Seahunter or Voyageur back to GP at the end of the hike.

Not sure where you're at here, but I can be in Grand Portage in 12.5 hours from my house north of Indy. Houghton is 9.5 for me, so it's not that big of a difference, plus the north shore drive is beautiful.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by Hoosierhiker »

Just getting an update. I decided to take the seaplane. Gong to fly into Rock Harbor at noon on the 11th in and fly back late in the afternoon on the 15th form Windigo. Hopefully I can make it across the island in that time. But this should be fun.

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Re: Logistics- Rock Harbor to Windigo- How do you get back to Rock Harbor to catch boat

Post by bobcat »

Have a great trip!

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