Located on the Northwest end of Lake Superior near the town of Laurentia, you will find the island called Isle Royale. It is part of the state of Michigan and along with 450 surrounding islands it makes up the territory called Isle Royale. This whole cluster of islands is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide covering over 206 miles in total area making it the fourth largest lake island in the world. In addition, it is the second largest island located in the Great Lakes and the largest natural island in Lake Superior.
Isle Royale is only about 15 miles of the Canadian and Minnesotan shores of the lake. There are no roads on the island making hiking the main method of movement and transportation. In Rock Harbor one can find wheeled carts available to move personal belongings from the Rock Harbor marina to the cabins and hotel.
Isle Royale was given to the United States by the 1783 treaty with Great Britain but the British remained in control of this land until after the War of 1812 and the already settled Ojibwa peoples considered the island to be their territory. The island was once the site of several lake trout and whitefish fisheries as well as a few resorts but as of today there are no permanent inhabitants. A major attraction to the island are it’s several shipwrecks located on the western tip making for exciting scuba dives and providing a glimpse into some maritime history of the area.
As for recreational activities one can enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and bird watching. Wheeled vehicles are not permitted on Isle Royale such as bicycles or canoe portage devices. There are many campgrounds to explore with most of them being accessible only by water. There are two small settlements on the island and they are Rock Harbor (which has a resort, marina and basic amenities) and Windigo, a smaller facility on the far western end of the island. A typical National Park Service campground will consist of a few shelters (cabin-like structures with one wall of mosquito-proof screen), individual tent sites with a picnic table and group camping sites. There are one or more pit toilets at each facility. Campgrounds along the shore have a boat dock and overnight boaters are a common sight at the campgrounds. The waterfront locations also attract many canoeists and kayakers. Please note that no wells are available so one should plan to bring their own water for the trip.
There are over 170 miles of hiking trails for everything from day hikes to a two week circumnavigation kike with some of the trails having steep grades that are quite challenging. The most popular, best marked and longest single route in the 40 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail that extends down the island’s backbone. A memorable adventure for the serious hiker.