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Isle Royale NP: Rock Harbor & Lake Richie Trails
The Rock Harbor Trail is probably the busiest trail in the park. In midsummer, when the Ranger III pulls in, a stampede often results as hikers scurry down the trail to secure a shelter or campsite at Three Mile or Daisy Farm Campground. If just stepping off one of the ferries, you can hike to Three Mile Campground in 1.5-2 hours while Daisy Farm Campground is another 2.5-3 hours away.
The first portion of the Rock Harbor Trail, the 7.2-mile trek to Daisy Farm, is an incredibly scenic walk along the bluffs of the shoreline, with constant views of the water. The 3.9-mile segment to Moskey Basin swings inland and is more difficult but not nearly as laborious as it used to be. This section has been rerouted in recent years to make it an easier walk over the rocky terrain.
Moskey Basin is a beautiful campground situated right off the well-protected waters at the end of Rock Harbor. It offers six shelters, group and individual campsites, pit toilets, a large dock, and some spectacular sunrises that are well worth leaving a warm sleeping bag in the morning. Climb the rocky bluffs above the dock for an incredible view down the length of Rock Harbor.
Heading west from Moskey Basin is the Lake Richie Trail, best known as the longest portage on Isle Royale at 2.1 miles. But backpackers use the trail to reach the Indian Portage Trail, which takes them to the Greenstone Ridge. Once on the Greenstone they can head east to return to Rock Harbor in 1-2 days or continue west and reach Windigo in 2-3 days. Indian Portage Trail also heads south from Lake Richie Trail and in 4.1 miles reaches to Chippewa Harbor Campground, another beautiful spot to spend the night.
The Rock Harbor and Lake Richie Trails are covered with detailed maps in Isle Royale National Park: Foot Trails & Water Routes by Jim DuFresne. To order the 184-page guide to the wilderness island, Click Here.
Isle Royale National Park opens April 16 and closes on Nov. 1 to all visitors for the winter. All park visitors who plan to camp overnight at campgrounds or cross-country sites are required to obtain a camping permit. This permit can be obtained free of charge at the visitor center at Windigo or Rock Harbor when you arrive or on board Ranger III on the way to the Island. The park has a user fee of $4 per person per day or an annual pass for $50. Advance reservations are not required to obtain a backcountry permit.
The Rock Harbor Lodge runs a water taxi that can drop backpackers and campers at Daisy Farm Campground and Moskey Basin Campground.
Contact the Rock Harbor Resort (866-644-2003 or 906-337-4993 in summer; www.isleroyaleresort.com) to find out current schedule and costs of its watwer taxi service.
Call the Isle Royale National Park headquarters in Houghton (906-482-0984) or check the Isle Royale National Park website (www.nps.gov/isro).
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