Not for beginners.
Porcupine Mountain is about a 7 hour drive from Chicago.
Start trip at Lake of the Clouds Overlook parking lot.
Day 1 (Thursday): 9.6 miles
Big Carp River Trail. Setup camp by Lake Superior.
Most people follow the Big Carp River Trail in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park from east to west. They begin the day on a high rocky bluff overlooking the rugged landscape of an ancient mountain range. They end it on the shores of Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater sea. In between we followed an entire river from its beginning to its end.
There are more than 2,000 miles of foot trails in Michigan but none quite like the Big Carp River Trail in the heart of this nearly 60,000-acre wilderness. This well-worn trail is a 9.6-mile hike from the mountains to the sea.
It begins at the most popular spot in the park, the Lake of the Clouds overlook, and ends at one of the most remote, the mouth of the Big Carp River. In between there are thundering waterfalls, stands of virgin pine, a steep-sided gorge, black bears, bald eagles and brook trout.
Day 2 (Friday): 11.8 miles (Long/tough day)
Little Carp River Trail. Setup camp by Mirror Lake.
One of the most scenic trails in the park. At 11.8 miles Little Carp River is the second longest trail in the park and extends between two of the park’s most stunning lakes; Mirror Lake and Lake Superior. In between the trail skirts its namesake river, passing numerous waterfalls and cascades and winding through stands of giant old growth pines.
Day 3 (Saturday): 6.2 miles (Easy day)
Government Peak Trail. Setup camp by Trap Falls.
The Government Peak Trail is popular with overnight hikers. This one slices through a section of the mountains few see. It runs from Mirror Lake to the Escarpment. It is a grueling and magnificent walk. It will take you into the soul of the Porkies through virtually every kind of terrain that can be found. The trail meanders along wetlands, the Upper Carp River and the Trap Waterfall, up one of the tallest peaks in Michigan and into a huge tract of tall, straight, old oaks that have to be seen to be believed.
Day 4 (Sunday): 8.3 miles
Overlook Trail and Escarpment Trail. End the day back at Lake of the Clouds Overlook parking lot.
Overlook Trail: This popular loop offers scenic views and magnificent old-growth hardwoods. Hikers will encounter steep uphill and downhill trail sections on this route.
Escarpment Trail: This is the crowning jewel of trails not only in the Porkies but in all of Michigan and possibly in the Midwest. The Escarpment combines a high rocky bluff and alpine-like vistas with views of the park’s rugged interior, Upper Carp River Valley and, of course, the center piece of the park; Lake of Clouds. Unlike the tourists who simply drive to the overlook and look down, the Escarpment Trail provides you with view of the famous lake from several different angles, and if the day is clear, you can easily fill your camera with stunning digital images.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Camping Guide: http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/Porkies_WC%20summer_2.pdf
Waterfall Map: http://gowaterfalling.com/waterfalls/maps/porcupinemountains.shtml
Trail Descriptions: http://www.michigandnr.com/Publications/pdfs/RecreationCamping/PMWSP-trail-descriptions.pdf
DNR Website: http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?type=SPRK&id=426