I'm planning a four-night backpack for next summer (2022), and wanted some feedback on a potential route. We have kids that will be 15 and 17. We've done a lot of family trips of two nights in the 20-25 mile range, that sort of thing. Lots of full-day hikes in the mountains out west (example from last summer: 12mi, 4000ft elevation gain in the North Cascades). My son, who will be 17, and I did Philmont in 2019, so we have a little more experience than my wife and daughter. Looking for 6-8 miles / day generally, with more mileage being fine, depending on spacing between camps.
Anyway, here is what I'm thinking for a challenging trip:
Sat. 8/20/22: Drive to Copper Harbor, camp at Fort Wilkins
Sun. 8/21: Isle Royale Queen IV to Rock Harbor (arriving 11:15am or so). Hour orientation. Hike to Lane Cove (6.9mi)
Mon. 8/22: Lane Cove to Moskey Basin (10.9mi)
Tues. 8/23: Moskey Basin to McCargoe Cove (8.4mi)
Wed. 8/24: McCargoe Cove to Daisy Farm (8mi)
Thurs. 8/25: Daisy Farm to Rock Harbor (7.1mi). Stay at Rock Harbor Lodge
Fri. 8/26: Passage Island tour (1:30-6:00). Stay at Rock Harbor Lodge
Sat. 8/27: Edisen Fishery/Rock Harbor Lighthouse tour (9:00am-1:30pm). Take Isle Royale Queen IV back to CH at 2:45pm. Camp at Fort Wilkins
Sun. 8/28: Drive home to Detroit area
Appreciate any feedback on this. Just started planning and decided a full-island traverse would be too long and not hit enough of the campsites that I see people raving about on here. Thanks!
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Second comment. Touristy or not, you missed dayhiking yo Scoville Point from Rock Harbor. This is a great 4-mile total, hike from the lodge or campground. Many people say it’s the best stretch of trail on the island.
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
I'm also interested in what your ideas for more alone in the wilderness time. I do like the sound of that. Isle Royale seems like a more constrained experience than I'm used to.
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1. You can pick a favorite spot to stay for an extra day, enjoy and explore. McCargoe Cove is a good spot for this, with the Minong Mine just up the trail. But because you don't have to stick to an itinerary, you can decide this on the fly.
2. You'll inevitably have a rainy day (or two or three), and can wait it out instead of a miserable forced march. The island is rainier than the mainland nearby, and I've never had a trip without at least one rain day.
3. You could get injured and need a rest day. It's a lot better to rest than to hike and hurt yourself more.
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With that in mind, something to consider is swapping (or saving for next time!) one of the boat tours in favor of using the half-day canoe rental you get with your lodge room to explore Tobin Harbor. I'm a big fan of the Tobin Harbor biathlon: paddling to Hidden Lake dock, then hiking from there to Lookout Louise, adding an out-and-back jaunt on the quietest, easternmost stretch of the Greenstone Ridge trail, if time and energy permit.