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Porcupine Mountains: Big Hemlock Trail

Trail Details

County
Ontonagon
Regions
Western Upper Peninsula
Latitude
N 46° 48' 30.24"
Longitude
W 089° 40' 27.84"
Distance
4.5 miles
Trail Type
Ski trail
Terrain
Old gorwth forests
Difficulty
Challenging
Nearest City or Town
Ontonagon
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Big Hemlock Trail is a 4.5-mile trail that is tracked in winter for skiers. It departs from the Double Trail on the backside of the downhill ridge near Union Spring Trail and ends back at the park's ski lodge on M-107. Big Hemlock is usually combined with portions of Union Spring Trail, River Trail and Nonesuch Trail to form the longest groomed ski loop in the park, a 9.3-mile (15.5 kilometer) ski into the backcountry of the Porkies.
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Description
Big Hemlock Trail is a 4.5-mile trail that is tracked in winter for skiers. It departs from the Double Trail on the backside of the downhill ridge near Union Spring Trail and ends back at the park's ski lodge on M-107. Big Hemlock is usually combined with portions of Union Spring Trail, River Trail and Nonesuch Trail to form the longest groomed ski loop in the park, a 9.3-mile (15.5 kilometer) ski into the backcountry of the Porkies. This is a day-long adventure for most skiers and if the weather is nice many plan an extended break or even cook a meal at Crosscut Warming Shelter.

If you want to shorten the loop to approximately a 6-mile ski, purchase a single ride lift ticket and descend the backside of the mountain along the Triple Trail to Log Camp Trail and then Union Spring Trail. But be forewarned, Triple Trail is a steep run.
Amenities & Services
Difficulty - Challenging
Groomed Classic Skiing
Trail Guide

For a map or complete description to the Big Hemlock Trail order Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park: A Backcountry Guide for Hikers, Backpackers, Campers &Winter Visitors by Jim DuFresne from the eshop:

Most skiers begin this outing with the Nonesuch and River Trail to the groomed Union Spring Trail. Just past Crosscut Shelter the Union Spring Trail swings north (right) for 0.3-mile climb to reach the posted junction with Double Trail spur from the West Vista at Mile 4.8. Continue west (left) here on Big Hemlock Trail with a spirited downhill run. Another long climb follows, topping off in a stand of towering pines, many of them old growth hemlock. The trees are beautiful but keep in mind their thick canopies often result in trails with thin snow cover early in the season.

Big Hemlock Trail remains in the pines for another stretch of scenic skiing until you reach its junction with Government Peak Trail at Mile 6.4, just south of Overlook Trail. Head north (right) and in a half mile you will climb through the hardwoods and pass the second junction with Overlook Trail. Just beyond the junction with the Escarpment Trail there’s a wicked run downhill. Be careful as you could end up flying onto M-107, which at this time of year becomes a popular snowmobiler’s route to the Lake of the Clouds.

The final 2.2 miles begins by following M-107 for a half mile before dipping into the woods to follow a trail above the road. You’re now skiing the access road that served the Carp Lake Mine in the mid-1800s. At Mile 8.5 you pass the first junction to the Deer Yard Trail and then in less than a mile begin a gentle downhill run to the Chalet, ending up at the beginner’s slope.

Facilities

One mile west of the Union Bay Campground is the alpine ski area with the downhill slopes, chalet, ski rental and a large, two-tier parking lot. The parking lot is also used by cross-country skiers as it serves the trailheads for the Nonesuch, Big Hemlock and the Deer Yard Trail.

Along with downhill ski slopes and 42 kilometers of groomed Nordic tracks, three rustic cabins and four yurts are available for use during the winter. None of the other cabins or the campgrounds are open from December through April.

Hours & Fees

Traditionally winter arrives at the Porkies in mid-December and lasts to the first of April. At this time of the year the staff concentrates its activities and services to what is referred to as the Porcupine Mountains Winter Recreation Area in the northeast corner of the park. The alpine area of the park, including the triple chair, is open Friday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST).

Directions

In the winter access is via M-107 from Silver City as South Boundary Road becomes part of a snowmobile route. The park road is not plowed beyond the entrance to alpine ski area, which makes the Lake of the Clouds Escarpment the most scenic snowmobile destination in the state.

Information

For a snow update or more information on the Triple chairlift and the downhill area go to www.porkiesfun.com. For more information on the park call the park headquarters at (906) 885-5275.


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