Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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sfrmagt2001
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Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by sfrmagt2001 »

I am totally new to backpacking but my whole family loves the outdoors. I’ve always wanted to check out isle Royale and I’m now committed to my young sons that we’re going! Now I’m a little gun shy but we’re doing it! My question for this forum is can I plan a 3/4 day 2/3 night trip just to give them a taste of a hiking trip? If so, what would you all recommend from starting to camping to ending? We’ll be coming from the Detroit area and want to schedule this in August. Thank you thank you for any itinerary ideas!!! Scott

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dcclark
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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by dcclark »

Welcome to the forums! (And eventually, to Isle Royale!)

My top bit of advice is: Practice! Do some kind of overnight backpacking trip with your sons, somewhere downstate, to see what it feels like. Make sure your packs are at a reasonable weight when you do, so you get the full experience.

As for Isle Royale, by coming from Michigan you'll almost certainly start from Rock Harbor. You can take the Ranger III out of Houghton (slower but more stable and lets you finish registration on the boat) or Queen IV out of Copper Harbor (about twice as fast). I like to use the Queen, since it arrives earlier (giving you more time to hike when you arrive) and departs later (letting you hike in from a campground on departure day, rather than having to stay in Rock Harbor the night before).

A decent itinerary would be to walk the Rock Harbor trail from Rock Harbor to Moskey Basin and back. You can stop at Three Mile, Daisy Farm, and/or Moskey Basin along the way. This would let you set a more ambitious goal (e.g. maybe Rock Harbor to Daisy Farm on the first day), but ditch halfway (at Three Mile) if you discover you're not ready for it.

Here's how it could look if you're experienced hikers and feel comfortable with backpacking:
Day 1: Arrive on the Queen, Rock Harbor to Daisy Farm (8 miles)
Day 2: Daisy Farm to Moskey (4 miles)
Day 3: Moskey to 3 Mile (8 miles)
Day 4: Get up at 3 Mile, hike to Rock Harbor (3 miles), do the Stoll Trail for fun, leave on the Queen.

Here's what a more relaxed one might look like:
Day 1: Arrive on the Queen, Rock Harbor to 3 Mile (3 miles)
Day 2: 3 Mile to Daisy Farm (4 miles) and do some of the Mt. Ojibway loop if you feel good.
Day 3: Daisy Farm to 3 Mile (4 miles) or go the long way via Mt. Ojibway (6 miles) if you feel good.
Day 4: Get up at 3 Mile, hike to Rock Harbor (3 miles), do the Stoll Trail for fun, depart.

Other options would include staying at Rock Harbor campground for one night at the start or end and doing a very short loop out to Three Mile or Daisy Farm and back, perhaps using the Greenstone Ridge as your route (which is worth seeing).

Whatever you do -- take your time, enjoy it, see the sights... and you'll be back!

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Ingo
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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by Ingo »

Will add to the advice of getting out with packs and gear before you go. That's the only way to get an idea of what everyone is up for.
A couple of more thoughts:
At the Windigo end of the island is the Huginnin Cove loop. But you have to either take the seaplane or drive around the big lake to Grand Portage for the boat (which would be great as part of a larger camping trip). It's about 5 miles in and 5 miles back, with fewer people and more remote than the R.H. end.
Another option from R.H. would be to take the water taxi to Moskey Basin (or Chippewa Harbor) and do a one-way hike back to R.H. (requires a bigger budget).
The simplest/easiest trip is to spend the first and/or last night(s) at Rock Harbor and just go to Three Mile and back. That is just a taste, for sure, but also gives you time for hiking without packs out to Scoville Point and up to Mt Ojibway.
Have a great trip whatever you decide!
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 13: RH-PI, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF

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sfrmagt2001
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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by sfrmagt2001 »

You guys are so awesome for spending the time to write down all that you did! It is so helpful and I read everything to my boys and they’re pumped. Thank you big time.

I have no idea what type of gear, tents, and food I should bring either. If you’re up for it I’d love a breakdown of what I should plan on getting and preparing for the trip. Thanks again.

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by dcclark »

Have you done car camping before? That might be a better place to begin -- it's a good way to get used to new gear (like tents, cooking setup, etc.). Jumping into backpacking is a big step, and backpacking on Isle Royale is even bigger. There are lots of great places to start out car camping in the Lower Peninsula, then move up to a one-night backpack trip.

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by thesneakymonkey »

Sounds like you have some pretty cool adventurous kids. I would say doing a "shakedown" hike back home before heading to the island will help you plan what mileage would be good for the kiddos. Personally If I was you, I would boat or plane into Rock harbor and maybe hit daisy farm , 3 mile, and rock harbor camp spots for 3 nights. If you are up for more you can maybe do lane cove and moskey instead.
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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by backwoods doc »

The best advice I ever saw about camping with kids was to start off easy and go slow. Otherwise you risk making the whole experience miserable, and they may end up rejecting the idea altogether. This is a long-term investment: my son first went car camping as a baby, overnight backpacking when he was 7, and now at age 18 carries the canoe for me on portages (and plans our trip routes). Success!

I agree with the cautious voices above: Start with car camping if they've never done that before. Next move up to an easy overnight backpacking trip -- maybe just hiking in a mile or two. When you get to IR, don't plan for more than a few miles of hiking each day. Remember, the point is to enjoy spending time together in a beautiful place -- and be prepared for bugs, cold and rain.

Regarding gear, instead of dropping thousands of dollars on top-of-the line equipment for the three of you, I'd recommend starting out inexpensively, then upgrading if this becomes a regular activity. You can get a reasonable starter Outdoor brand backpack for about $40 at WalMart, a Coleman Peak 1 Butane stove for about $18, and backpacking sleeping bags for about $40 on Amazon. If you're not hiking more than a few miles a day, lightweight boots (like Merrill Moab 2 - $100 a pair) will be fine. We still use a Eureka Timberline tent -- durable as can be and dry as a bone in a storm. (A bit heavy perhaps, but we're paddlers.) Don't forget mattresses, a pot to boil water for backpacking food, rain gear, and a water filter. That'll get you started.

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by Ingo »

backwoods doc wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 9:50 pm
Regarding gear, instead of dropping thousands of dollars on top-of-the line equipment for the three of you, I'd recommend starting out inexpensively, then upgrading if this becomes a regular activity. You can get a reasonable starter Outdoor brand backpack for about $40 at WalMart, a Coleman Peak 1 Butane stove for about $18, and backpacking sleeping bags for about $40 on Amazon. If you're not hiking more than a few miles a day, lightweight boots (like Merrill Moab 2 - $100 a pair) will be fine.
Kelty makes good quality stuff that won't break the bank and not too heavy. For a tent I'd look at the Grand Mesa 4. You do want to watch the weight as much as possible.
For food I do oatmeal for breakfast, freeze dried meals for supper (usually Mt House), and trail mix and snack bars for lunches. Only need 1 pot to boil water that way. And if you pre-package the oatmeal in individual freezer zip-locks (not the light ones), you can mix and eat out of the bag and only need a spoon for dishes.
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 13: RH-PI, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by JerryB »

Jumping in late and hope others will correct me as needed. From RH to Three Mile, you have two trail choices--Tobin Harbor Trail or Rock Harbor trail. Especially if conditions are wet, the Tobin trail is less treacherous. (I am more a west side of the island guy, but I think I have this right.)

Two other thoughts: Find time for the Stoll Trail as a day hike out of RH. Wonderful and your kids will have fun. Also, From 3 Mile, if you are up to it, hike up to the Greenstone Trail for a change of pace and view.

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by Bobcat1 »

Yep , you could do a great 3-day trip with kids by spending first night at Rock Harbor. Bag a campsite when your ferry arrives, and spend the afternoon in a rented canoe on TobinHarbor. Next morning hike to3Mile, set up camp and day hike up Mt Franklin for incredible views. Then take your time getting back to RockHarbor next morning, and spend the rest of the day hikingStoll Trail.

Just to make sure you know, Rock Harbor and 3-mile campgrounds both have 1-night limit.
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by Grandpa »

I first took our son to IRNP when he was 9; he’s mid 40’s now. We had a great experience the first time and have had many more since then. I would add:
- The first priority is to stay warm, dry, fed & hydrated. It can get cold at night even in August. So it’s important to always have dry clothes and dry sleeping bags when you arrive in camp. Line your pack with a plastic bag. Double - or triple - bag your sleeping bags. Young boys often have little fat reserve so get cold easier. So have reliable rain gear, synthetic or wool clothes (Cotton clothes don’t dry out well), warm layers, plenty of food & water. The shelters are great but carry a tent that will keep you dry in case they’re full.
- I wholeheartedly agree with those who recommend low mileage while backpacking with kids. There’s no shame in backpacking only 3-5 miles a day – and even a “rain day” with no miles. There’s plenty of opportunity to take day hikes from camp if you want.
- I also agree with doing a dry run(s) ahead of IRNP if you can.
- A common rule-of-thumb is to keep pack weight to 20% of body weight. A typical 9-year old only weighs 60 lb so 20% is only 12 lb. But young boys eat their weight – or so it would seem. So the adult can end up being the pack mule carrying the camp gear, food, water, … You’ll all be happier if you keep the weights reasonable (and cover fewer miles).
- Stay together. The trails are generally quite easy to follow but there are bare rock sections marked only with rock cairns. So it’s possible for kids (and even some adults) who run ahead or lag behind to lose the trail.
- Experienced visitors often avoid Daisy Farm because it’s “crowded” or not “wilderness”. But if you want a longer stay, I think it’s great for a first trip with kids. It has trail shelters, picnic tables and a covered picnic shelter, a pebble beach, dock where people gather, an occasional program and a resident ranger. Unlike Rock Harbor & 3 mile, you can stay more than 1 night.
- Have fun. Isle Royale is magical!
First visit 1982. Last visit June, 2018. Isle Royale is my favorite National Park!

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by grandrapidsjack »

last year, I took my 10 year old to the Porkies, we did 3.9 miles, she had a 15 pound pack. she has done a lot of day hikes of up to 6 miles.
She said the 4 miles was about her limit, and I could see she struggled toward the end.

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by booyah »

The best piece of advice I can give is to listen to the kids and adjust accordingly.

I've brought my kids camping since shortly after birth for all 4 of my daughters. Last year was the first trip to the Island for the oldest (15) and we took kayaks. Took it fairly easy did a bunch of hiking, but overall a less agressive trip than either of us initially intended.

The biggest things are to make sure you adjust expectations, dont plan to hike the entire island in a trip, the kids just cant. I do advise people to stay the first night in Rock Harbor, and hike the scoville point trail, its a lovely trail with great views of the lake, and it gets you a good idea of what the terrain is like on the island.

Lastly dont be afraid of the water taxis, a trip back from Moskey may be costly (150 I think?) but is a nice way to end the trip to see the trip from the water if you hiked the distance.

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by duane1966 »

For sleeping pads I would recommend the Klymit V. If you go on EBay they have refurbished ones in the $35 price range with full warranty.They weigh only 18oz or so.
As far as distance for the kids I would say let the determine the distance. My current 13 year old was doing 15 mile days with a 15 pound pack when he was 9 and now I give him 25 pounds just to slow him down a little. My current 15 year old never wants to do more than 10 or 12 miles but pushes thru 15 mile days with a 20 pound pack. it's are for me to keep up with them.The only time I have had problems with keeping them moving is when it rains,they have good rain gear but just hate hiking in the rain. Isle Royal offers a very flexible schedule, so if you get to your campground at noon and the kids feel good and the sun is shining go another 2-4 miles to the next campground or do some day hiking. If the weather is bad stay in your tent or shelter and play cards.
Before you come do some day hikes with a loaded backpack to get an idea of what they can do. Even if you just go home and sleep in the tent in the back yard you will be getting much needed experience.

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Re: Beginner trip for 12 and 9 year old boys

Post by Bobcat1 »

Backyard camp out is a great idea, or maybe a minimal car-camping trip with just your backpacking gear. Keep track of anything that wasn’t used on the overnight, or anything you needed that you didn’t have. Those overnights will give you experience setting up your tent, using your stove, I would even filter your water for practice. On the island, the ground you will be sleeping on is either hard and compacted, or bare boards of a shelter. Check out the comfort of your sleeping pad well!
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
96 WC-FL-SB-SD-HL-CE-3M-RH
94 RH-DF-MB-3M-RH
92 RH-DF-LR-CW-HL-SD-IM-WC

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