Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by hermsker »

Planning our 5th trip to the island next month and debating on the route. We are experienced backpackers, do about the 10-15 miles comfortably, and always like to combine a few backcountry sites with some traditional campgrounds. My favorite place on the island is Todd Harbour and have heard nothing but great things about Little Todd as well, but have never taken the Mingong west of Todd. I've also never done the Feldtmann Loop as we generally start at Rock Harbour. Our 2 itenerieres options are as follows (I roughly rounded miles)

1) Windigo to backcountry zone 3 (somewhere around Washington creek) = 9 miles
2) zone 3 to Little Todd = 9 miles
3) Little Todd to Todd = 7 miles
4) Todd to Malone = 15 miles- picked up by Voyaguer the next morning and then home


1) Windigo to Siskiwit = 11 miles
2) Siskitiwt to Feldtmann = 11 miles
3) Feldtmann to backcountry zone around Grace Harbour = 6 miles
4) Backcountry zone to Hugininn = 6 miles
5) Huginnin to Windingo before 1pm boat = 3 miles

None of the distances, times, etc scare me, my question is about the views/backcountry zones. Has anyone tried to backcountry along the Minong in that area or around Grace Harbour? Would be it be possible to bushwhack from rainbow cove straight to Grace Harbour? How are the Little Todd, Siskiwit, and Huginnan campgrounds? I generally prefer the spots that face the west for the sunsets but trying to be impartial.

I know I'm asking for a lot, but I appreciate all replies and opinions!

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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by Nick »

Personally, I'd take any bushwhacking off the table. I've seen far too many hikers schlepping in to a camp site torn to pieces after taking a back country shortcut. Most always, the common remark is, "It looked easy on the map." Bushwhacking on ISRO is brutal.

I've done both the Feldtman Loop (once) and the Minong (twice). I prefer to hike from McCargoe to Windigo rather than the other way as there is a very rough initial climb out of Windigo and I'd rather be light than heavy when I do that.

I've stayed at Little Todd, most recently in May 2016, and it is a nice spot. Can be a little wet, though. I also like the Hugginin Cove site. Nice sunsets, too.

Feldtmann loop is nice, although it is pretty long, flat and boring once you come off the Ridge or leave the Siskiwit campground. I've taken some nice photos from the Siskiwit Bay campground.

My advice, keep your mileage down and enjoy the Island.

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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by Ingo »

I really enjoyed the Feldtmann Loop last year. Siskiwit is a great campground, although not west facing had a nice sunset over the ridge. Feldtmann Lake saw many moose, including in my campsite, and Rainbow Cove is beautiful--lay on the beach for the sunset (and remember your headlamp). Huginnin is also a wonderful spot, take campsite 1 if you can. The trail to the east follows the shore with great views north/west across the lake. That said, I haven't done the Minong, so I can't compare the two.

I've read that the area around Grace Harbor is pretty wet and buggy for backcountry camping, although it's been done. You certainly can follow Rainbow Cove for at least a mile or two. Not sure after that, but you could cut back to the trail if needed. But in general I agree with Nick on the bushwacking. Also, the mileage from Windigo to Huginnin is 5 miles +/- either direction, so I think your last 2 days are off a little.
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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by JerryB »

I too enjoy the Feldtman Loop. I have done the Minong as well. I agree that the better direction for me is from McCargo to Windigo. When I did the Minong, I planned (and had it on my permit) to camp in the back country between Desor and Windigo. About half way there is a creek for water. When we reached that point, the bugs were so bad in the woods that we decided to hike straight to Windigo.

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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by paulbates »

I did the Minong last summer from McCargo to WIndigo. It is preferred in that direction due to the 3 beaver dam crossings on the last 7 miles to Windigo. We did our last miles over those beaver dams and our boots were extra soaked and heavy.. not a great way to start the rest of the trip if goign the other direction.

You can backcountry camp along that 12 miles from N Desor to Windigo because its slow going on the ups and downs and there is not designated campsite in the middle, but keep water in mind. Water is scarce on that 12 miles unless you don't mind taking it out of beaver pond. There's a creek about half way, it was a brown trickle for us in August. Maybe that's not so bad in June.

Same experience as Nick on Little Todd.. it was one of my favorites because of the view, cool breeze and we could have a fire, but its a big descent getting there and mucky, overgrown and slippery sometimes.

Here is my trip report


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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by IncaRoads »

I have done off-trail backcountry camping in the two locations you are inquiring about.

In Sept. 2017, I hiked the western portion of the Minong Ridge Trail for the second time, going from west to east and onward to Malone Bay. After leaving Huginnin Cove, I planned to off-trail camp somewhere near the headwaters of Washington Creek. I did find suitable water sources along the way (beaver ponds, rivulets, etc.) but found no real places where I would would want to camp. It was late in the season and bugs were not bad. I kept walking toward the North Lake Desor campground until I ran out of daylight. Luckily for me I stumbled upon a great place near a small rivulet in a mature hardwood forest, about a 1/4 mile off the trail. By the way, the 3 beaver dams I had to cross earlier that day were terrible boot-sucking mud holes.

I have also done the Feldtman Loop twice; the last time I off-trail camped near the eastern portion of Grace Harbor just south of Grace Creek, about 1/4 mile off the trail. Ok, but not spectacular, but it did have a western view which was blocked somewhat by Grace Island. Next time I may try somewhere out near Cumberland Point.

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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by Fanglin »

I completed both within the same trip to Isle Royale, here is what i've found:

Probably the most scenic and secluded part of the island, Minong is rather difficult to fully traverse as there is constant up and downs, including numerous muddy beaver dams which IncaRoads mentioned above. I hiked westbound from McCargo Cove to Windigo, and hit every campsite along the way. My personal favorite was Little Todd (we were alone here which was very nice), but the other sites along the way are also among the better ones on the island. Todd harbor, is nice, and North Desor provided excellent swimming. Ending with 12 miles and a quick rainstorm was definitely not a highlight, but given the exceptional weather we had previously had, it was nothing to complain about. Also, the Minong has wild blueberries on many of the ridges during the summer.

Continuing (counterclockwise) down the Feldtmann from Windigo was a little on the rough side of things for me. I had rubbish hiking boots which provided little to no ankle support. I was walking with close to 5 blisters on each foot which were acquired from the Minong trail. The first night we stayed at Feldtmann lake which wasn't spectacular, however, a short half mile hike brings you to Rainbow Cove which is the best place on the island to enjoy sunsets.

Feldtmann to Siskiwit was rather painful: There is a massive watchtower about half way through which is really cool (it's like the one on the greenstone, but 100 feet higher). However, this stretch also has my least favorite part of the island. There is a five mile long flat stretch which is just marsh and mosquitos all the way. Given my blister conditions, this was NOT fun at all. Siskiwit bay is nice though. There were a good amount of boaters, which made it quite busy compared to other places. Upon heading north from Siskiwit, there are many false trails for the first half mile or so, and my group got moderately lost. Island Mine is very interesting though (The mine, not the campsite). If you see tailing piles on the side of the trail at any point, wander in a bit and you can find a fully assembled and maintained iron steam engine from the historical mining operations. I just stumbled upon it by accident which was quite ironic. You should definitely check this out if you hike this stretch.

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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by hooky »

How about a mash up of the two itineraries?

Windigo to Feldtmann
Feldtmann to Siskiwit
Siskwit to S Desor
S. Desor to Malone for pick up the next day.

I did this in the fall 2014 and it was very enjoyable. The trail from Ipsheming to Malone was a jungle but still a great hike along lake siskiwit.

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Re: Feldtmann Loop vs Minong

Post by IRexpat »

Either route sounds fine; let's face it, a crappy day on IR beats a nice aimless day in a cubicle/office/etc.
This will be our 10th year in a row to IR, we did the Minong two years ago McCargoe->Wash Harbor and Feldtmann loop last year (for the ?fourth time)

Windigo to backcountry zone 3 (somewhere around Washington creek) = Beaver. Damn! There's a huuuuge one on this stretch, and some others;
zone 3 to Little Todd = **the stretch from Lake Desor to Little Todd was the hardest stretch- 50-100ft steep elevation changes every 100-400m with almost no water sources; quite a bit of exposed rock domes leading to rock ridges which could result in following a false trail into brush**
Little Todd to Todd = **nothing too crazy here; some ridge up/downs but not as bad as the previous stretch
Todd to Malone = (only been on the Greenstone portion of this route; it's the Greenstone, might as well be Hwy 61)


1) Windigo to Siskiwit = you'll make it before even an early dinner, though factor in some time to poke around Island Mine site, see the steam engine
2) Siskitiwt to Feldtmann = factor in a lunch break on the fire tower- if the weather is nice it's a phenominal view
3) Feldtmann to backcountry zone around Grace Harbour = I'll guarantee that you'll see a moose at Feldtmann, especially in the morning though they rise early; if they don't walk right through your campsite just keep looking to the South shore of the lake
4) Backcountry zone to Hugininn = stop off at the store for a pizza n cold beverage (or keep going of you're a purist)
5) Huginnin to Windingo before 1pm boat Just a walk in the park, Kazansky

Would be it be possible to bushwhack from rainbow cove straight to Grace Harbour?
-Theoretically yes but just take the trail, you won't miss much; better bushwhacking opportunity might be to try and follow the former East Feldtmann Lake trail up to Windigo; we found remnants on the South side of Feldtmann a few years ago while heading to the base of the Feldtmann Ridge, you can still spot some parts on Google Earth
Little Todd- reputation for being sparsely used so prob quiet, rocky beach, spur trail can be very muddy in places
Siskiwit-absolute fave. Shelters (if not snagged by boaters), community fire pit with a nice breeze to keep bugs away, great sunsets over Greenstone
Huginnan- far Western tent site has its own mini cove though all sites are secluded; view of Thunder Bay lights at night. sunset over MN/CA shore
It's not Heaven, but they can see IR from there...

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