Isle Royale National Park: Greenstone Ridge Trail
Go high above this tiny Lake Superior island for solitude, views, and one of Michigan's most incredible ridge hikes.
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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
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)
-Text by Jim Gorman; GPS data courtesy of National Parks System
- Distance: 64.1
Location: 47.911847, -89.157741
Western trailhead: Windigo Visitor Center at Washington Harbor
Location: 47.917824, -89.149504
Turn left onto the Greenstone Ridge Trail, one of the best ridge treks in the country.
Location: 47.93385, -89.055117
Summit of Sugar Mountain
Location: 47.93505, -89.043328
Junction with the Island Mine Trail. Turn right for a campground, or continue on to the Greenstone Ridge.
Location: 47.955746, -89.011701
Eastern (and higher) summit of two-tipped Mt. Desor.
Location: 47.966093, -88.970744
Turn left for camping at the South Lake Desor Campground.
Location: 47.994346, -88.915426
Ascend the lookout tower at Ishpeming Point. The Ishpeming Trail leads south to Eagle Harbor and the Malone Bay Camground at the islands south side.
Location: 48.017345, -88.843939
Junction with the Hatchet Lake Trail (with camping at the lake).
Location: 48.047058, -88.76414
Moose (1,187 ft.)
Location: 48.062204, -88.722377
Turn left for a quick spur to the West Chickennbone Lake Campground.
Location: 48.066528, -88.709379
Location: 48.072766, -88.693436
Hike .1 north at this junction to the East Chickenbone Lake Campground.
Location: 48.085911, -88.653931
Sargent (934 ft.)
Location: 48.098467, -88.629646
Bear left at the junction with Daisy Farm Trail.
Location: 48.10839, -88.607417
Mt. Objiway (1,133 ft.) with a lookout tower.
Location: 48.128057, -88.561799
Isle Royale East (1,074 ft.) to the northeast
Location: 48.152805, -88.502043
Location: 48.161734, -88.485171
Location: 48.163502, -88.481281
Turn southeast with the Greenstone Ridge trail and begin the final descent.
Location: 48.162201, -88.478944
Location: 48.158908, -88.471938