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.
- IR Expert
- Posts: 1124
- Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:25 am
- Isle Royale Visits: 8
- Location: Quad Cities, IL
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.
- Forum Moderator
- Posts: 1575
- Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm
- Isle Royale Visits: 12
- Location: Hillsborough, NC
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.
- Posts: 41
- Joined: Mon Nov 18, 2013 6:20 pm
- Isle Royale Visits: 3
- Location: Alger County, MI
- LNT Expert
- Posts: 88
- Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:52 pm
- Isle Royale Visits: 6
- Location: Macomb TWP, Michigan
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.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.
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.