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Day Hiking Isle Royale National Park: The Best Trails

Isle Royale is one of the most pristine and least visited National Parks in the United States. Most commonly reached by ferry, the island boast incredible wildlife, rock shorelines, fishing, boating and more.

Most people who visit Isle Royale spend a few days backpacking around the island and make their way from campsite to campsite. You don’t need to backpack to enjoy the solitude, day hiking Isle Royale offers opportunities to wander through the forest or along the lakeside.

See our Isle Royale itinerary.

Hiking Isle Royale

What to Know About Isle Royale

Isle Royale is located out in Lake Superior and can only be reached via ferry, sea plane of private boat. The island is best for people looking for bit of quiet and enjoy hiking, fishing and boating.

Most of the island is very remote, although the main ferry stops of Windigo and Rock Harbor provide a bit more facilities. You will find information at both sites. You can also camp nearby and in Rock Harbor you can stay in the Rock Harbor Lodge or one of the camping lean-tos.

If you are planing on day hiking Isle Royale, your best option is to base yourself in one of these places.

Hiking Isle Royale

Where are the Best Hikes in Isle Royale

Rock Harbor: the easiest place to visit on the island is Rock Harbor. You can get here from the ferry from Houghton or Copper Harbor. You will find information, a ranger station, the Rock Harbor Lodge, and a campground here and you can base yourself from here for a few days to enjoy some day hikes.

In addition, you can also take a boat from the Rock Harbor Lodge and do a day hike from there.

Windigo: Located on the western part of the island. Windigo is smaller than Rock Harbor and doesn’t have a lodge. You will find some cabins, a small camp store and a small quiet harbor. You can find some of the best Isle Royal hiking trails from here.

hiking isle royale
Hiking Isle Royale: Hiking through the remote interior of Isle Royale

Best Hiking Isle Royale

Below you can find some of the best day hiking trails on Isle Royale.

Rock Harbor

  1. Stoll Trail: This is a short, easy hike that begins at the Rock Harbor Lodge and takes you along the shores of Tobin Harbor. It offers beautiful views of Lake Superior and is a great option for a leisurely stroll.
  2. Suzy’s Cave: A moderate hike of about 4 miles round trip, Suzy’s Cave Trail takes you to a cave formed by ancient lava flows. It’s a unique geological feature to explore, and the trail offers scenic views of Tobin Harbor.
  3. Scoville Point Loop: This loop trail is approximately 4.2 miles long and offers stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding islands. Scoville Point is a great spot for picnicking and taking in the beauty of the island. See more about hiking to Scoville Point.
  4. Lane Cove Trail: This moderate to strenuous hike and leads you to the peaceful and remote Lane Cove. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a longer day hike and the chance to experience more of Isle Royale’s wilderness.
  5. Rock Harbor to Daisy Farm: This 6.7 mile trail (one way) is a rocky path that leads along teh shore of Lake Superior. Expect views of the coast. You will pass through 3 Mile Campground which also makes a good turn around point.
  6. Mount Franklin Trail: If you’re up for a challenging hike, consider the Mount Franklin Trail. It’s approximately 9.5 miles round trip and takes you to the summit of Mount Franklin, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the island.
Hiking Isle Royale: One of the copper mines found on the trail while hiking

Windigo

  1. Hike to Feldtmann Lake: This is a moderate to strenuous hike of approximately 10 miles round trip. You’ll traverse through a variety of ecosystems, including dense forests and wetlands, before reaching the pristine Feldtmann Lake. It’s a great spot for picnicking and enjoying the tranquility of the island.
  2. Feldtmann Ridge Loop: This loop trail is about 16 miles long and offers stunning views of Lake Superior. It takes you through forests, meadows, and along the rocky coastline. It’s a longer hike but provides a comprehensive Isle Royale experience.
  3. Hike to Grace Creek Overlook: This is a shorter hike, approximately 4 miles round trip. The trail leads to a stunning overlook of Grace Creek, where you can admire Lake Superior’s rugged coastline.
  4. Hike to Huginnin Cove: A moderate hike of around 9 miles round trip, the trail to Huginnin Cove takes you to a secluded cove with a beautiful sandy beach. It’s an excellent place for a picnic or a refreshing swim.
  5. Minong Ridge Trail: For experienced hikers looking for a challenge, the Minong Ridge Trail offers a rugged and remote experience. The trail extends for many miles from Windigo to McCargoe Cove, passing through some of the island’s most remote and pristine wilderness. You can simply turn around when you’re done.
Hiking Isle Royale: One of the many shoreside overlooks on Isle Royale

General Information About Isle Royale

Where to Stay on the Island

If you are day hiking you will want to base yourself in one spot on the island. This is more difficult than it might sound. Really the only places to use as a base are Rock Harbor and Windigo. The most common trails leave from there two harbors.

The easiest place to stay is Rock Harbor. It has the most amenities and is the only place that offers a lodge. If you stay in WIndogo, you will need to camp.

How Long do you Need

If you are visiting Isle Royale and plan to day hike, you should plan to spend 2-3 days on the island. This gives you time to do a few hikes and explore the island. If you want to also take a boat ride, and do some of the other activities on Isle Royale, give yourself 4-5 days.

Most people who spend more time on the island are backpacking.

How to get to Isle Royale

Isle Royale is remote and the only way to get there is to take a ferry or seaplane. The ferry’s run most days during the busy season. You should book your ferry tickets several months or more in advance.

To see updated information on ferry tickets, visit the National Parks pages.

Hiking Isle Royale – Rock Harbor Campground

Lookng for more on visiting US National Parks?

Check out our National Parks Planning Guide or see our list of US National Park guides.

We are currently working on visiting all the US National Parks. You might like to see our top recommendations for US National Parks for Teens.

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