Porcupine Mountains State Park, Michigan
Updated: May 7
Michigan's Upper Peninsula is an outdoor enthusiast's sought after destination. The State and Federal government have carved out many great locations to protect for all. Porcupine Mountains State Park is one of these treasures and the biggest state park in Michigan.
We enjoy Porcupine Mountains for
Rest and relaxation
Fishing at Lake of the Clouds and Lake Gogebic
Adventure Mining Copper Mine tour
Lake Superior shoreline fun
The Porcupine Mountains are located on the Western Edge of the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. The park was designated in 1945 to protect the old growth forest made up of maple-hemlock. In 1972 Michigan invested in the park to create trails, campgrounds, and other park amenities. The park today is a wilderness built for families to explore and enjoy.
Summit Peak is a quick 1 mile trail to the highest point in the park. The tower is available to see above the forest. The view is spectacular. On clear days you can see Isle Royal National Park about 50 miles away and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. We made the hike with our dogs. The only inconvenience was the dogs couldn't climb the tower so we went up separately to take care of the dogs. Additionally, there are steps that older dogs and people may not be able to climb and descend on the trail. the elevation gain is a little over 200 feet but it seems more difficult.
Lake of the clouds is surrounded by the old growth forest and provides for great photos. From the overlook you can see the whole lake beneath you. We enjoyed the pause the overlook provided in our hike. The sky looked more blue, the trees looked more green, and the lake was shimmering. The lake is known for great bass fishing. Fishing is catch and release only and any boats have to be non-motorized and carried in 3/4 miles from the parking lot. Make sure if you hike the trails or fish when it is warm that you bring mosquito spray. We hiked the Southern end of the lake. The Carp River Bridge was a nice place to fish and we did catch bass. The advantage is the bridge is in sun and the mosquitos weren't as bad. The falls were small but no less enjoyable. It was fun to watch the water cascade over the rocks.
Union Bay Campground was amazing on Lake Superior. We had a site that sloped away from the road towards Lake Superior. We picked the site for availability and because it was located on the Lake. The slope was a little more than I iked. However, my Class A Ford motorhome navigated the site well. I don't think my Freightliner Diesel would have made it. I'm pretty sure it would have bottomed out backing off the road into the site. Other sites off the lake seemed better suited for big rigs. We also saw some sites that were mud. We watched a 5th wheel pickup and trailer stuck up to the axles try to find a way out. They struggled the whole time we camped there. I'm not sure how to advise a good site. However, staying there is worth the risk.
The lake sites are wonderful due to the rock outcroppings and we had a lot of fun climbing all over them and making walking paths through the shallows with rocks. We walked the length of the campground on the outcroppings. The sunsets here were as equal to the best I've ever seen. The best spot for sunset viewing is at the end of the campground. There is a little walking path through trees to the Lake. There is a day use site with a picnic table that marks the trail. Many campers sat on the rocks on the Lake Superior shoreline with their families, a drink, and their cameras taking pictures while closing out their day.
Thirty minutes and thirty miles away in Greenland Michigan is Adventure Mining Company. I can't remember how we discovered the mine but I am sure that I said yes when I heard it was on our route. Adventure Mine (its original working name) is a copper mine that was worked from 1850 to 1920. the mine struggled to make money as the copper was too big and too difficult to remove. the guides talked of a mass of copper that was as large as a car. The difficulty is that with their current technology the copper had to be chiseled down to pieces that could be handled and removed from the mine. Copper is soft and can't be chipped out. It has to be peeled off. Miner's would work on peeling channels with hammer and chisel for days to split the copper into smaller pieces.
The special food of the Upper Peninsula is the pasty. The dinner treat is made with beef, potato and rutabaga. We have friends that live in the UP. So, they always supply us with pasty's from the best restaurants. Pastys were designed to fit in the pockets of the miners. They could then use their candle to heat up the pasty and eat lunch. I'm surprised by the sweet flavor and for our brood it is only perfect when eaten with ketchup. That may upset some purists. They are so good.
There are many levels to the mine. When in operation pumps ran to keep the water out. Today all be two levels are underwater. When you have a half day near Houghton or Porcupine Mountains take time to tour Adventure Mine. For more information you can visit their website https://adventureminetours.com/ We were able to find parking for our RV and tow vehicle without having to disconnect. The drive from the store to the mine entrance in the World War II military vehicle was worth the price of admission. We always enjoy the ability to be immersed in a surviving history lesson and Adventure Mine is a historic lesson that should be provided for generations.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula is full of natural wonders. Porcupine Mountain State Park is the biggest. With 90 miles of hikes and the shores of Lake Superior there are places to explore for days. We had good weather and spent most of our awake time outdoors. The campground was nice and we enjoyed walking our dogs each day. It was very quiet and peaceful. If you are making a trip to the Upper Peninsula consider Union Bay Campground and Porcupine Mountains State Park. We had a great time and I'm sure you will, too.