50-Mile Thru-Hikes: Greenstone Ridge, MN

Traverse a seldom-hiked national park.
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Traverse a seldom-hiked national park.

(42 miles, 3-5 days)

Here’s an equation we like: One seven-hour ferry plus a 42-mile trail equals zero crowds. Thanks to boat-only access, the Greenstone Ridge Trail, which bumps along the view-draped spine of Isle Royale National Park, dishes up Alaska-style solitude. Jump in at either end (usually done east to west, Rock Harbor to Windigo) and emerge having snarfed thimbleberries by the handful, swum in remote lakes, and walked grassy heights with lookouts sweeping to shores 50 miles distant. Most GRT hikers skip the five miles from Lookout Louise to Mt. Franklin. Big mistake. Arrange at the Rock Harbor Visitor Center for a water taxi ($45) to Hidden Lake Dock. The views on this stretch are tops. (906) 482-0984; nps.gov/isro

The way/shuttle Take the ferry (from mid-May until late-October) from Grand Portage, MN ($75 one-way to Rock Harbor, isleroyaleboats.com).



Season
Mid-August through September for the first blush of fall color and few bugs



Guidebook and map
Foot Trails and Water Routes, by Jim Dufresne ($13, mountaineersbooks.org); Trails Illustrated Isle Royale National Park ($12, natgeomaps.com)