Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by outdoorenthusiast » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:41 pm

Thanks for all the great advice on here, it has been so helpful in planning!

My husband and I are going to IR for the first time mid August and would love some feedback on our first draft itinerary. My parents are coming but will have a slightly easier itinerary, meeting up with us if possible. I mainly am listing our itinerary below but mention it second if my parents are meeting up with us. Hope this isn't too confusing to follow!

For perspective, my husband and I are avid hikers, but just got into backpacking and have done shorter trips around 8 miles per day with just under 3000 ft elevation gain and rough footing. My parents can do mild-moderate day hiking. We all have moderate paddling experience, but mostly on calm lakes and easy rivers.

Depart Friday 8/16 - Return Saturday 8/24 via Ranger III*

Day 1: Arrive via Ferry at RH, Snag campsite at RH**, Stoll hike (4.2 mi) or Sunset Cruise 7:30pm
Day 2: Water taxi to Hidden Lake and hike Lookout Louise to Lane Cove (7.7 mi)
Day 3: Hike to Daisy Farm (6.9 mi) | Parents water taxi to meet us and camp
Day 4: Hike to McCargoe Cove (8.2 mi) | Parents hike up Daisy farm with us and split off for Mt. Ojibway Loop back to Daisy Farm
Day 5: Hike to Chippewa Harbor (10.6 mi) | Parents water taxi back to RH
Day 6: Hike to Moskey Basin (6.2) | Parents water taxi with two canoes to MB, grab shelter, leave canoes, and meet us at Lake Riche to fish
Day 7: ***Canoe east in Rock Harbor (stops at Edison Fishery, Rock Harbor Lighthouse, cabin with antler collection), camp at Caribou or Tookers
Day 8: Canoe rest of way to Rock Harbor, if get in early consider Passage Island Tour (1:30-6pm), Stoll hike (4.2 mi), or Sunset Cruise (7:30-9:30pm) - if didn't do on day of arrival, maybe stay in lodge or cottage****
Day 9: Return to Houghton via Ferry

Any feedback or thoughts on my questions below?

*we could also take Copper Harbor ferry if it makes it easier to get a campsite upon arrival at RH
**is it feasible we can get a camp spot at Rock Harbor upon arrival for 1-2 tents, or should we reserve the lodge to be safe?
***is it likely we'd run into too difficult of water conditions this time of year to paddle one of these days?
**** any thoughts on lodge vs. cottage? does your opinion change if it's 2 or 4 people?

If parents aren't into the idea of coming back with canoes, does anyone know if you rent them from Voyageur II if they'll drop them off by you at Daisy Farm and then you can send them back via Rock Harbor (we never plan on riding on this ferry but know we'd have to pay the $40 canoe fee each way plus the daily rental fee - just not sure if they'll do it without you riding along...)

Thanks for your help!!


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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by torpified » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:08 am

that looks like a lot of fun, and also a very resourceful use of transportation options!

About the paddling, I'll defer to others. And there's the perennial question of whether you'll be able to bend the water taxi to your will.

Given your backgrounds, the hiking itinerary sounds manageable, and will deliver you to a lot of cool places. (I know they'd have to carry their gear, but I wonder if, battle-hardened by the Daisy Farm Loop the day before, your parents might be up to making the Day 5trek back to RH on foot? Even if they stayed in the lodge that night, I'd call that backpacking!)


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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by kolo » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:25 am

**** any thoughts on lodge vs. cottage? does your opinion change if it's 2 or 4 people?
I doubt that I will ever pay $250 a night to sleep in a bed, anywhere. But if it was a special occasion and I was so inclined, I would definitely pick a housekeeping cottage over the lodge. I had the opportunity to see the inside of a housekeeping cottage; there is more room, more privacy, I think you can cook in them, and the view of Tobin Harbor is very nice! My opinion doesn't change depending on the number of people.

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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by Ingo » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:11 am

*The major advantages of the Queen IV is it's a much shorter trip and runs every day (or almost). The Ranger III is the largest and most comfortable boat, with a ranger presentation and registration on the boat. Everyone seems to have their own preference.

**Don't worry about getting a campsite. It will likely be full, or mostly, but the worst case is you'll share a site with another party. It's IR etiquette :).

***Conditions on Rock Harbor are usually fine for canoeing, and is somewhat protected. But it is big and can get nasty, so you do need to be careful and allow for the possibility of a no go day. The 10 miles is doable in a day, 2 is more relaxed with time to explore, but do hope the wind is not in your face--it's a long haul paddling into chop for that long. So I'm not saying don't do it, but a couple of alternatives to consider.
- Skip Chippewa (as much as I like it), get back to RH earlier (hiking) and spend a day paddling in Tobin Harbor. It is the most protected water and fairly uncommon to be unsafe for canoeing (but don't venture past Scoville Pt). It's beautiful with lots of small islands to explore, and you can hike up to to Lookout Louise from Hidden Lake (if you do this I would suggest just hiking to Lane Cove from RH on day 1 instead of the water taxi).
- If you really want to canoe RH, put the canoeing first from RH to Moskey and arrange to meet the folks to pick up the canoes at Moskey. This gives you more options and easier to adjust if the weather is not cooperative. And less pressure to go out when you shouldn't, just to get back on time.

****The housekeeping cabins are more removed, more private, and you can cook. But check about sleeping for 2 couples--I'm thinking 1 couple would be on a pull out or maybe in bunk beds. The lodge rooms are a standard motel room, but right on the shore of Lake Superior. We stayed in one a couple nights and being right on the shoreline rocks was wonderful, although we had less than quiet neighbors the last day.

If you and/or your folks are comfortable with a small outboard boat, you may consider renting one to get around RH instead of the water taxi or canoe.

I really enjoyed getting out to Passage Island, the one time I was able. Pretty cool. Using the lodge tour at the end of the trip would also be a way to see the fishery, lighthouse, and moose boneyard. All of this is day of the week dependent, of course.

Overall I'd try and keep the plan as simple as possible and be flexible while you're there. Things don't always go as planned, and sometimes need to adjusted on the fly. e.g. I think the Voyageur would be able to arrange a canoe drop-off/pick-up but I don't think it would be worth the extra complication.

Whatever you end up with, enjoy the trip. I'm sure you'll love it!
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: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by outdoorenthusiast » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:26 pm

So much great advice, thanks everyone! Ingo, you've given me so many new ideas, so I'm going to play around with the itinerary a little.

Also, my parents decided they didn't want to do canoe camping (if that's a proper term...) and are actually very interested in trying backpacking - though very short distances, like RH-3M-DF so we'd maybe still be able to meet up with them for a night or two.

My husband has a lot of experience driving speedboats and my dad is handier with smaller boats, but neither has experience on a Lake like Lake Superior... I'm guessing if the weather is calm it would be okay to go to PI?? or do you think some sort of special experience or nautical knowledge is needed in the open water on LS like that?

Also, would we be missing out if we just boated to LL and returned and didn't hike between LL and Lane Cove? We heard that's the prettiest section of the Greenstone.

Thanks for all your help!

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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by Ingo » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:40 pm

outdoorenthusiast wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:26 pm
My husband has a lot of experience driving speedboats and my dad is handier with smaller boats, but neither has experience on a Lake like Lake Superior... I'm guessing if the weather is calm it would be okay to go to PI?? or do you think some sort of special experience or nautical knowledge is needed in the open water on LS like that?
Just to clarify, you would not be taking a rental boat to PI in any situation. They are small open boats and restricted to RH waters between the lodge and Moskey Basin--which is totally appropriate since they are not designed for the open water on Superior. The main advantage would be to explore the RH sites on your own schedule, and a more reliable alternative to canoeing.

The one trip I stayed in the lodge was just so we could do the tour to Passage Island. Unless you have your own suitable boat (or the right friend :) ), it's the only safe way to get out there.
outdoorenthusiast wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:26 pm
Also, would we be missing out if we just boated to LL and returned and didn't hike between LL and Lane Cove? We heard that's the prettiest section of the Greenstone.
I don't remember it being that significantly different, other than being less traveled, but the last time I did it was literally decades ago :? so maybe someone else has more recent memories. The views from Mount Franklin and Lookout Louise are fantastic, but you'd be hitting them anyways.
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: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by torpified » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:11 am

The Greenstone Ridge Trail between LL and the Mt Franklin junction feels more secluded than the GRT west of the junction. It's a lovely trail, alternating between forest and meadows. For my money, though, it can't really rival the open views you'll get from the GRT on the way to Daisy Farm on the third day of your present itinerary.

If you do walk to and from LL from the Hidden Lake dock, you can add a side trip out and back on the GRT to get a taste of what you'd miss by omitting the LL to Mt Franklin junction section. I'm a big fan of the Hidden Lake-LL canoe-walk combination, by the way. It's a biathlon; the wlking part's got cool boardwalks and weirdo rock formations; people seem to often see critters (beaver, otters) in hidden lake. All I've ever seen there is a lousy hummingbird.


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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by outdoorenthusiast » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:56 pm

Ah yes, that makes more sense with the boat Ingo - that seemed a little of an unnerving trip in a small aluminum boat :shock:

Torpified - I'm starting to like the biathalon option too! Maybe I don't need to be so stuck on hiking that portion of the Greenstone.

I called the Lodge and asked if the water taxi would deliver or pickup canoes and they said no. A person has to be onboard. I emailed Voyaguer II out of curiosity, but I agree with Ingo, it may not be worth the complication. You've given me so many other great ideas anyways!


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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by outdoorenthusiast » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:54 pm

Okay, I think we have finally figured it out! Thanks so much for all your help!

Depart Friday 8/16 - Return Saturday 8/24 via Ranger III

FRI: Arrive via Ferry at RH, Sunset Cruise 7:30 pm, Stay at Lodge | Same for parents
SAT: Hike to Lane Cove (6.9 mi) | Parents take 9 am Fishery/Lighthouse Tour & get dropped off at Daisy Farm to camp
SUN: Hike to Moskey Basin (10.8 mi), See Mt. F & Mt. O | Parents hike to Moskey Basin (3.5 mi) to secure a shelter early for the 4 of us
MON: Hike to Chippewa Harbor (6.2 mi), maybe fish Lake Richie | Parents hike to Lake Richie (2.3 mi) and fish. Perhaps continue to W. Chickenbone (3.6 mi)
TUES: *Hike to McCargoe Cove (10.6 mi), maybe fish W. Chickenbone | Parents hike to W. Chickenbone if not already there and fish. Perhaps continue to McCargo Cove (2.7 mi)
WED: Get picked up by Voyageur II at 1pm to Rock Harbor, Stay at Cottage| Parents hike to McCargo Cove if not already there and take Voyageur II, Cottage
THURS: Lookout Louise Tour 9-12:30pm or Rent Canoes to Paddle Tobin & LL**, Fishery & Lighthouse Tour 2-6pm or rent aluminum boat to see Rock Harbor***, stay at Cottage | Parents LL Tour or Canoe, Cottage
FRI: Rent boats (if haven't seen LL and RH), Stoll hike (4.2 mi), Passage Island Tour (1:30-6pm), Sunset Cruise (7:30 pm)**** - if haven't done, camp at Rock Harbor | Parents same
SAT: Return to Houghton via Ferry 9am | Same for parents

*Thoughts on staying at W. Chickenbone vs. McCargoe Cove?
**Do you think paddling/exploring Tobin Harbor & seeing Lake Louise is a half day or full day canoe rental? Self-guided vs. tour on MV Sandy?
***Do you think boating/exploring Rock Harbor & its sights is a half day or full day boat rental? Self-guided vs. tour on MV Sandy?
****Any thoughts on if the Sunset Cruise is worth it? When we're there the Raspberry Island hike isn't a part of it

So close, thanks!


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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by torpified » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:53 am

that looks great! I'm psyched about your parents' escalating backpacking ambitions!

WCB vs MCC: Both great options. Because it lacks lake (Superior) access, WCB might feel quieter and more wildernessy. If you stay at McCargoe and you're still up for an adventure after you get there, the Minong mine rewards exploration.

You probably already know (if it's still true) that lodge rooms and cabins come with a half day canoe rental. I think that's operationalized as 3 hrs. If it were me, I'd want to do the Tobin Harbor/Hidden Lake/Lookout Louise thing self-guided (espcially if I'd already done the Sunset Cruise, whose route I think overlaps with the LL tour). There'd be more latitude to extend the hike, and also to noodle around Tobin Harbor, which is really fun. If the Canoe Renter is uptight about contracting upfront to how long you're renting the canoe for, it might be worth it to sign up for the whole day, so you don't feel rushed.

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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by Tom » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:57 am

*Thoughts on staying at W. Chickenbone vs. McCargoe Cove?
McCargoe Cove offers the opportunity for shelters, a community fire pit, a dock for easy water filtering, and the mines about a mile away to explore. W. Chickenbone offers better fishing opportunities from shore. I personally like McCargoe Cove (it's in my top 3 campsite list for the Isle)

**Do you think paddling/exploring Tobin Harbor & seeing Lake Louise is a half day or full day canoe rental? Self-guided vs. tour on MV Sandy?

Hidden Lake/Lookout Louise is a quick paddle from Rock Harbor/Tobin Harbor dock. I would think a 1/2 day rental would give you plenty of time. That said, it's easy enough to spend an entire day in Tobin, too, exploring the islands.

***Do you think boating/exploring Rock Harbor & its sights is a half day or full day boat rental? Self-guided vs. tour on MV Sandy?
Depends on how far you want to paddle, but I would give yourself an entire day if the intent is to leave Rock, hit the outer barriers, make Mott, visit the Lighthouse/fishery, and return. RH is also not as protected a Tobin, so there are chances you could get some wave action or unpleasant headwinds. The MV Sandy would provide a more bullet-proof option if you want to make sure you see those sights.

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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by Ingo » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:10 am

****Given everything else you're doing, I doubt you'll care. Personally I'd be enjoying the sunset from the Tobin Harbor dock.
Agree with everyone else on the other points!
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: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by outdoorenthusiast » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:04 am

Ingo - do you mean sunset at Tobin Harbor dock for sunset instead of the sunset cruise?

I did not know 1/2 day canoe was included in rental torpified - but they did confirm that for me, great tip, thanks!


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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by outdoorenthusiast » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:04 am

ah whoops, just saw it was in reference to ****
Thanks for your thoughts!

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Re: Feedback on 9 Day Backpacking/Paddle Itinerary [updated]

Post by dcclark » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:50 am

outdoorenthusiast wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:54 pm
****Any thoughts on if the Sunset Cruise is worth it? When we're there the Raspberry Island hike isn't a part of it
I've done the sunset cruise. It was... OK. The stop at Raspberry Island is nice, but you could also see that from a canoe, and they might cut out Raspberry Island that late in the season (due to sunset being earlier but the boat leaving at the same time).

There's so much to see and do around Rock Harbor that it's probably not worth paying extra to go sit in the lake for a while (especially since you still sit in the lake even if it's too cloudy to see the sunset!). The Stoll Trail is worth half a day if you like to take it slow and enjoy the views. But if you can wrangle a visit to Passage Island or Edison Fishery/Peterson cabin, definitely do that!

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