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Isle Royale NP: Mount Franklin Trail
Mount Franklin Trail is often the entry ramp for hikers tackling the Greenstone Ridge Trail. From a junction with the Rock Harbor Trail, it runs 2 miles to the ridge, passing the Tobin Harbor Trail along the way. Mount Franklin, with its incredible views, is actually 0.3 mile west on the Greenstone Ridge Trail.
But the trail also serves as a leg of a popular day hike for visitors staying at Rock Harbor. They combine the Tobin Harbor Trail with a portion of Mount Franklin and Rock Harbor trails for a 6.5-mile trek that rarely leaves the shoreline.
Mount Franklin Trail begins 0.2 mile west of Three Mile Campground at a well marked junction along the Rock Harbor Trail and makes a steady climb to the crest of the Greenstone Ridge. At it’s junction with the Greenstone Ridge Trail, Lane Cove Trail winds 2.4 miles to the secluded Lane Cove Campground. West on the Greenstone is Mount Ojibway (2.8 miles); the junction of the trail to Lookout Louise is 4.8 miles east.
Mount Franklin is not really a mountain but, rather, a rock bluff along the Greenstone Ridge, but at 1080 feet, it's high enough to provide a superb view of Canada and the north side of the Island.
Mount Franklin Trail is 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.
Shower tokens, clean towel, and bar of soap can be purchased at the camp store at Rock Harbor or Windigo.
Some backpackers like to book a room for their final night at Rock Harbor, either at the lodge or in one of the housekeeping units that can be shared by six people and feature small kitchenettes. For reservations, contact the park concessionaire, Forever Resorts (866-644-2003 or 906-337-4993 in summer; www.isleroyaleresort.com).
In the Upper Peninsula, on the way to Isle Royale National Park, the best place to pick up equipment is Downwind Sports which has two stores at 514 N Third St. in Marquette (906-226-7112) and 308 Shelden Ave. in Houghton (906-482-2500). Once on the island, information, maps and backcountry permits can be obtained from the Rock Harbor or Windigo Visitor Centers at the foot of the ferry wharf. There are also small stores at each entry port with limited and very expensive supplies.
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.
Most hikers reach Mt Franklin Trail via the Rock Harbor Trail or Tobin Trail from Rock Harbor. To reach Rock Harbor and Isle Royale National Park there's the Isle Royale Queen IV (906-289-4437; www.isleroyale.com), a ferry that departs from Copper Harbor.
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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