2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by CJN »

I am looking for advice for my 2nd trip to the island.

Last year, 2019, was my 1st trip to IR and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I walked from Rock Harbor to Windigo, via, 3 Mile CG, Mt Franklin, W. Chickenbone, Hatchet Lake, S. Lake Desor, and on into Wash Creek camp.
My main objective was to walk from one end to the other.

I am actually planning 2 trips now, and which one I do first depends on the number of days I can plan to take off.

In this post, I am thinking about crossing the island again, but at a slower pace.
I would like to go on different trails and see different country.
I am considering the Minong Ridge Trail and it sounds like it is one of the more challenging routes on the island.

I will need to come into Windigo from MN. on Day 1.
I will go down the Minong to past North Lake Desor, Todd Harbor, McCargoe Cove to West Chickenbone, to Lake Richie, Moskey Basin and end at Daisy farm camp, where I will board the ferry the next day back to MN.


My objective for this trip is to cross the island again, but on a different route then in 2019.
I think I would also get a back country permit, and camp 1/4 mile or more off trail, 1 or 2 nights on the Minong.
I really dont think I can make North Lake Desor after I get off the ferry from MN. on the same day and I dont really want to spend all of Day 1 in Wash Creek, when I could use that time later as a rest day.


Questions are:
1. Is there any reason I would not be given a back country permit, if I asked for one?
When I asked about it in 2019 at Rock Harbor, it seemed like a major inconvenience for the ranger to talk to me about it, and I had to hit the trail, as it was 4 Pm, and heavy rain was forcasted.

I would build in potentially 2 off days, for this long trip and the slower pace of the Minong trail.
I looking at about 7 days.

What are these camps like, and where would be a nice place to spend an off day, maybe where more moose are around.
I have been reading on here and it sounds like the western end of the Minong is the most challenging and slowest paced. What are the rougher sections of this trail?

I am in my mid 50's.
I would be going at the end of August, like last year.
Thanks for any information.

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by IncaRoads »

Three years ago, in early September, a portion of my hike was from Huginnin Cove to N. Lake Desor via the Minong Ridge Trail. I had a back country permit (which by the way is straightforward to obtain) and was planning on off-trail camping somewhere in between those two destinations. I never found a good area to stop with adequate water. So I tried to make it to N. Lake Desor before dark, but ended up a couple miles short when darkness made it unadvisable to continue. Daylight is noticeably shorter in September. I got lucky. I found an adequate campsite alongside a small rivulet (12” wide) about 1/4 mile off the main trail. My point is - you can make it from Windigo to N. Lake Desor after arriving on the ferry in August, if you don’t make many long stops. But your pack will be the heaviest.

I’ve done the Minong Ridge Trail in both directions, and prefer east to west due to the fact that my pack is lighter during the latter and more strenuous portion of the trail.

One of my favorite trips on Isle Royale was taking the Voyageur II to McCargo and spending nights at…
McCargoe Cove, Todd Harbor, Little Todd Harbor, N. Lake Desor, Huginnin Cove before departing on the ferry at Windigo. A layover day at N. Lake Desor would have been useful to rest my spirit and my bones.

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by Midwest Ed »

I have never been on the Minong section from Little Todd to Windigo so I'll let others offer specific advice and information but my general observations are: If your goal is to be somewhat leisurely it seems counter intuitive, especially on the more difficult Minong, to skip Little Todd. My second suggestion also goes counter to the slower pace goal. Consider planning your first night at Huginnen Cove as Inca did. It adds about 2 miles to your 2nd day but solves your concern regarding not wanting to spend the first day at Washington Creek. Whether to stay at Washington Creek, Huginnen Cove or head straight to North Lake Desor the first night seems like a decision you might want to make when you arrive based on the present weather and weather forecast as well as time of day and any other trail conditions available, etc.

p.s. I really like Inca's idea of a McCargoe Cove drop off, then an opposite Minong. On the first shorter day there's plenty of things to do in and around McCargoe Cove because of the mine there. Six nights MC,TH,LTH, NLD, HC, WC fits your 7 day outlook and you could skip Huginnen Cove if that last Minong stretch (and I've heard the hardest) whips your butt

Mod Note: Changed references of Ingo to be Inca.

Note to mod: Thank you. Aging doesn't suit me I think.
Last edited by Midwest Ed on Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by Bobcat1 »

Another possibility, and this will likely be my next backpacking trip, is to go Windigo-Feldtman Lake your first day, then overnights at Siskiwit Bay, South Desor, Hatchet Lake, North Desor and Windigo. This uses the Hatchet Lake Cut-Off trail to hike the western part of the Minong, while hiking the Feldtman Loop to start. I'm not sure the mileage breakdown between Hatchet Lake, Little Todd and North Desor. You may be able to skip Hatchet Lake and head for Little Todd that night, but check the trail miles and descriptions to suit yourself! This gives you time for 1-2 extra days (Huginin Cove?) if you want, or rest days.
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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by torpified »

2021 sounds like it's going to be a banner year for you!

I thought the Minong (which I did in my mid-50s) was a blast. The very things that make it more difficult than IR's other trails --- frequent ascents/descents via rocky treadway to ridges presenting minor micronavigational challenges --- also make more fun (at least according to me).

Also according to me, the ranking of the sections in descending order of difficulty/fun (and not taking d/f due to length into account):

1. Between N Desor and Little Todd. Almost nonstop fun.

2. Between Little Todd and Todd. Substantial fun, particularly in the stretch closest to Todd.

3./4. A close call. Although both the Windigo-N Desor and the Todd-McCargo stretches feature significant fun (with the fun of the former concentrated in its N Desor end and the fun of the latter distributed more uniformly), both are discernibly easier (again, setting to one side mileage considerations) than the sections I've ranked 1 and 2.

Just my subjective impression. More equally subjective impressions:
*I heartily second Midwest Ed's suggestion of using the Huginnin Cove Gambit to manage ferry timing constraints. The Hugginin Cove Loop is a far more interesting route between Windigo and the eastern GRT-HCL junction than the GRT.
*It would reinforce the Huginnin Cove Gambit to have a plausible backcountry spot to stay between Windigo and N Desor on night 2. I don't have any great ideas about that. (Looking at the map, the Washington Creek crossing might be a candidate.)
*unless you want to pack what could be entirely too much fun into a single day, stopping at Little Todd would enable you to savor the funnest and the next funnest sections as separate events.
*with a Daisy Farm exit, if you find yourself taking more time than anticipated to enjoy the Minong, you can expedite the dismount by saving Lake Richie and Moskey for another trip, and proceeding from McCargo to Daisy via the trail that follows the ridge on the east side of Chickenbone Lake.

However you wind up organizing this, I am looking forward to trip reports!

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by jerry »

If you want a challenge, IncaRoads' route, McCargoe to Windigo is worth a try. The hike from N. Desor to Wash. Crk is long. I got my shoes/boots wet on the last leg of the hike. Wish I could do it again (I'm probably too old to do it again).

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by thesneakymonkey »

Can’t speak to the back country permits but as far as the minong the beaver dams were the hardest for us. Especially the first one going East to west. We liked going East to west because our packs were their lightest on that 12 mile haul across three dams at the end. You can see that section on video in part 7 on our series linked below. We really enjoyed our stays at Todd and N lk desor a lot. Both were beautiful.
Trip #1East side loop: https://youtu.be/xejNOfYWpIQ
Trip#2 Minong End to End : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 9ZJVgtfgga
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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by Base654 »

I was told that there is only one person/group per back county zone. If someone else has the same idea as you on the same day, you might not get your permit. I have never had the problem myself and I have done many back county nights.

https://www.nps.gov/isro/planyourvisit/ ... _Zones.pdf

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by CJN »

I think I have some kind of plan for a longer trip.
I am planning a shorter Feldtmann loop trip and a longer Minong ridge trip. They would not be in the same year, but which one I do first depends on the number of days off I can allow for that year.


For the Minong ridge trip, I am thinking of going into Windigo, and heading out to Little Todd. I will allow 2 days for this 17.3 miles and will be getting a back country permit. The first day will be a later start after getting off the ferry.

Day 3, will continue on, 7 miles to Todd Harbor, and rest there the next day, on day 4. If I feel the need, I can take the rest day at Todd Harbor the day before.

Day 5 will be going for Todd Harbor to West Chicken. 9.4 miles.
Day 6 W. Chicken, Lake Ritchie, Moskey Basin, to Daisy Farm, 9.8 miles.
Leave Daisy Farm, the next morning, of Day 7.

I know this is a tougher trail, then my first trip across the Greenstone, but I feel, I am going less miles per day, because on this plan I have 5 days of longer walks, with a full rest day built in. Last year I had 4 longer walking days, with 2 being 11, 12 miles. The other days I pulled into camp at 2 and 3 pm, which was much earlier than I had wished, but that's where I was and it was to far to the next camp.

Options are, walk a half day on my rest day, or skip the trail to Lake Ritchie, saving myself 4 miles in the final stretch to Daisy Farm.

any impressions or ideas are very much appreciated. I guess I'm lookng at a trip to cross the island again, but on a different route than last year.
Any of this is doable, but of course it depends on how many days you allow for.

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by Bobcat1 »

W. Chickenbone to Moskey = straightforward. Moskey -Daisy Farm is an unexpectedly rough 3.5 miles or so, up and down off rock outcroppings, little shade, etc. This will be at the end of your day. As long as you know that, and manage your energy accordingly. I've met many hikers who are exhausted and stumbling into either Moskey or Daisy, after doing that stretch when they were already tired. But I like the route through Lake Ritchie and Moskey Basin!
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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by TopCarrot »

Bobcat1 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:34 pm
W. Chickenbone to Moskey = straightforward. Moskey -Daisy Farm is an unexpectedly rough 3.5 miles or so, up and down off rock outcroppings, little shade, etc. This will be at the end of your day. As long as you know that, and manage your energy accordingly. I've met many hikers who are exhausted and stumbling into either Moskey or Daisy, after doing that stretch when they were already tired. But I like the route through Lake Ritchie and Moskey Basin!
Awh.
I really have always enjoyed Moskey to daisy.
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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by Midwest Ed »

TopCarrot wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:23 pm
Bobcat1 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:34 pm
W. Chickenbone to Moskey = straightforward. Moskey -Daisy Farm is an unexpectedly rough 3.5 miles or so, up and down off rock outcroppings, little shade, etc. ...
Awh.
I really have always enjoyed Moskey to Daisy.
It is a scenic walk but it can also be a tremendous burn on the legs if taken too fast. While there's almost no overall change in elevation, it's akin in many place to continuously walking up and down a single flight of stairs with each step varying in height. A good deal of it is actually along a prehistoric shoreline when the Lake level was quite a bit higher. I can easily see it being a greater challenge when done at the end of a long day.
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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by dcclark »

Midwest Ed wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:14 pm
TopCarrot wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:23 pm
Bobcat1 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:34 pm
W. Chickenbone to Moskey = straightforward. Moskey -Daisy Farm is an unexpectedly rough 3.5 miles or so, up and down off rock outcroppings, little shade, etc. ...
Awh.
I really have always enjoyed Moskey to Daisy.
It is a scenic walk but it can also be a tremendous burn on the legs if taken too fast. While there's almost no overall change in elevation, it's akin in many place to continuously walking up and down a single flight of stairs with each step varying in height. A good deal of it is actually along a prehistoric shoreline when the Lake level was quite a bit higher. I can easily see it being a greater challenge when done at the end of a long day.
I agree, I love this hike, but it has thrashed me a few times. Besides being up-and-down, it also runs along the angled part of a ridge. Your feet and legs don't do equal work, and that never lets up. I once arrived in Daisy with my left food in severe pain (and the right foot -- no problem!). Luckily, a foot soak in Lake Superior and a really long nap fixed that up.

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by kolo »

Moskey -Daisy Farm is an unexpectedly rough 3.5 miles or so, up and down off rock outcroppings, little shade, etc. This will be at the end of your day. As long as you know that, and manage your energy accordingly. I've met many hikers who are exhausted and stumbling into either Moskey or Daisy, after doing that stretch when they were already tired. But I like the route through Lake Ritchie and Moskey Basin!
It has been a long time since I have backpacked the stretch between Daisy Farm and Moskey Basin. I do faintly remember it being hot and dry with little shade. The last time I did that stretch it was in a canoe! :) I certainly remember the stretch between Moskey and Lake Richie because I had a canoe on my shoulders! :shock:

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Re: 2021 Trip Advice: Minong Ridge, to Daisy Farm

Post by Kelly »

Bobcat1 wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:34 pm
W. Chickenbone to Moskey = straightforward. Moskey -Daisy Farm is an unexpectedly rough 3.5 miles or so, up and down off rock outcroppings, little shade, etc. This will be at the end of your day. As long as you know that, and manage your energy accordingly. I've met many hikers who are exhausted and stumbling into either Moskey or Daisy, after doing that stretch when they were already tired. But I like the route through Lake Ritchie and Moskey Basin!
This year was the first year I hiked this section on its own (just those kms on that day) and it was actually pleasant. It has not always been so.
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