4 to 5 day Kayak Trip Ideas

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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4 to 5 day Kayak Trip Ideas

Post by herchmerquad » Wed Sep 23, 2015 1:40 pm

I know this subject has been addressed a bit but wanted to narrow down some ideas and hoping some of you experts can help.

My dad and I recently built a couple of pygmy kayaks and are eager to get them out on a trip. In terms of experience I would put us somewhere in the moderate category ... not beginners by any means but not experts either. I am desperately trying to track down some good ideas for a 4 to 5 day trip. Isle Royale came to mind as we have both been there a couple times (hiking not paddling). Even so, it doesn't absolutely need to be Isle Royale ... just a place where we can explore and see some great sights from our kayaks during the day and enjoy a nice campfire at night (if allowed). My dad is 73 but is in very good shape for such a trip however I'd prefer to stay away from any arduous portages.

ANY thoughts or ideas based on your expertise would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks in Advance.


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Re: 4 to 5 day Kayak Trip Ideas

Post by Midwest Ed » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:50 pm

Welcome to the forums herchmerquad,

Almost all shorter and easier paddling trips need to make use of the Voyageur II out of Minnesota. The Voyageur II will drop off and pick at several locations (see their website for details). It stops in Windigo then heads to Rock Harbor along the north shore, spends the night and the next day heads back to Windigo along the south shore before heading home.

I made a late Fall paddle trip that started in Rock Harbor and ended at Chippewa Harbor with intermediate stays at Carabou Island, Moskey Basin, Lake Ritchie, Wood Lake and Lake Whittlesey. On that particular route, only Carabou Island and Chippewa Harbor allow fires and the portage into Lake Ritchie is a long 2 miles but relatively flat. A drop off at Malone Bay with pickup at Chippewa Harbor over 4 to 5 days through Wood and Whittlesey would be easy and relaxing. Or do it in reverse order. Both Malone and Chippewa allow fires. All of these options on the Voyageur II would entail spending the first night at Rock Harbor as it overnights there.

The other very good option that also avoid long portages would be a drop off at Belle Harbor (on the Voyageur's first day). Belle Isle allows fires. The number of nights allowed there is 5 so you could use it as a base camp of sorts. There's plenty of protected Lake Superior waters to explore. The campground at Pickerel Cove is within easy reach. Venturing to Birch Island risks some exposure to open Lake Superior water as does Lane Cove but to a lesser degree. Once at Lane Cove you can easily get into Stockly Bay then Duncan Bay where there are two more campgrounds (both of which allow fires). You would be spending your last night at Rock Harbor but that seems to be a pleasurable thing for many as you can get a shower, a beer and a Lake Trout dinner.

Either of these trips would be fantastic. I suggest you download the 2015 copy of the Greenstone Newsletter. It has a lot info on campgrounds as well as a map and updated park info. When the campground legend indicates fires are allowed that can often mean only in one of those grills sitting on a post.
Last edited by Midwest Ed on Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013

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Re: 4 to 5 day Kayak Trip Ideas

Post by Ingo » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:10 pm

First, everything Ed says :). And a couple more thoughts:
My favorite area to paddle is the Five Fingers area: Belle Isle, Duncan Bay, Pickeral Cove. However, there is the rather arduous portage from Duncan Bay to Tobin Harbor to avoid paddling around Blake Pt (only for the most experienced) to get to Rock Harbor. But you could get dropped off and picked up at Belle Isle, spend 2-5 days there depending on your and the VII's schedules, then overnight at Rock Harbor on your way home. You could also utilize the water taxi to get to Rock Harbor, although it would probably be pricier--I don't know if they would pick you up at Duncan Narrows or not, but they might.

The other thing I'd consider is just exploring Rock Harbor (the water) itself. My daughter and I had an aggressive 9 day canoe trip planned, but she sprained her ankle the 2nd day on the Lake Richie portage, so we spent the whole trip on R.H. I was truly bummed out at the prospect of 9 days just paddling R.H., but it turned into a great trip. I love Caribou Island and Moskey Basin, and Daisy Farm and Three Mile weren't bad at all (I typically want to head away from too many other folks). The lighthouse and fishery were great to visit and there's the Peterson's cabin close by. If one of them gives the talk at Daisy Farm while you're there, it's fascinating. And you could get up to Merrit Lane, also great (but you have to be careful around Scoville Pt).

And finally, there's the across the island trip from McCargo to Chippewa. It involves significant portaging, however. My Dad did it with 4 of his sons when he was 70, but there were enough of us that he didn't have to work too hard on the portages.

Here's some of my trip logs: http://moskeybasin.com/Isle_Royale/Isle ... _Main.html. I haven't updated it for a couple years, but it has paddling trips in those areas.
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: 4 to 5 day Kayak Trip Ideas

Post by RockRiver » Thu Sep 24, 2015 4:42 am

My wife and I have kayaked IR twice. We paddled 101 miles in May 2014. It was a great trip and we covered from McCargoe Cove to Moskey Basin and out to Mine Point in Conglomerate Bay. The key to kayaking IR or anyplace else on Lake Superior is to have and understand the marine weather forecast. With the forecast, a map and common sense you can plan your days paddling. Get a marine vhf radio. You will have a good weather radio and be able to speak to people. The rangers monitor channel 16. We go to Ir on the Queen out of Copper Harbor and my plan was to hail the Voyageur if we got stuck on the other side of Blake Point by weather. They will stop at Belle Isle and McCargoe Cove if they know people want a ride. I just saw a pair of Pygmy Kayaks on a truck in Marquette and I doubt if you want to do anything more than the portage from Rock Harbor to Tobin Harbor with those boats. Really nice boats but be aware that most landings are on rock. I expect to leave gel coat at each landing. You can easily do 4 or 5 days just paddling in Rock and Tobin Harbors. Lots to see there if you have never been to IR before. The weather will dictate the trip. Plan several itineraries based on possible weather scenarios, pay attention to the forecast, have an honest assessment of your abilities and you will have a great time. Forget the Tobin to Duncan Harbor portage except in an emergency. If you don't believe me, paddle over to the Lookout Louise trail, climb to the top, and look down at Duncan Bay and just realize that you just went up the easy side.

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Re: 4 to 5 day Kayak Trip Ideas

Post by Gimp » Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:59 am

RockRiver wrote:Forget the Tobin to Duncan Harbor portage except in an emergency. If you don't believe me, paddle over to the Lookout Louise trail, climb to the top, and look down at Duncan Bay and just realize that you just went up the easy side.
I would add that you always need to weigh the effort of the portage against any risk involved with paddling that section. I was at Belle Isle in late July and there were two gentlemen there who had survived a dangerous situation where I believe they both ended up in the water along the palisades. Apparently one of them had a poorly sealed hatch cover that took on water. I think they both ended up in the water as they tried to self rescue. They ended up taking shelter in a cleft and fighting hypothermia until the next day. Another kayaker helped get them out of that situation. One of the men was badly bruised from that incident and really hurting. I have a solo canoe and was considering paddling around Blake Point but decided to do the portage instead. Compared to the Moskey to Lake Richie portage it wasn't all that bad and quickly completed.

While not related to this subject I just recalled something of interest. There was a couple kayaking through Belle Isle and they had a service dog with them. He calmly laid in a front kayak seating position like it was the most natural thing on earth. I had thought it was impossible to take a dog onto Isle Royale, but apparently it can be done in the right situation with the right paperwork and innoculations.

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Re: 4 to 5 day Kayak Trip Ideas

Post by bobcat » Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:35 am

This is somewhat late but maybe it will be useful. I realize this is the Isle Royale board but for novice kayakers who want to do a kayak camping trip without portages, you might want to consider Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. It's a great place to kayak-camp, with all the amenities of a drive-to national park but you can only drive to the water's edge. All the campsites are accessible only by boat and dispersed around the shores and on islands of 4 big lakes and connecting channels. I would suggest putting in at Ash River and heading up to Kettle Falls as a superb trip for novice kayakers. You can spend as many days as you want on Namakan and Kabatogama Lakes with zero portages. And it is way less remote in case you need to adjust your trip once you get started. Get a couple trips worth of experience, and you will be ready to judge what you are comfortable planning on Isle Royale.

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