ONTONAGON, Mich. (WJMN) – The Porcupine Mountains draw thousands of people to the Upper Peninsula each year to check out its scenic views, hikes, and an outdoor adventure for everyone.
“The Porcupine Mountains are just this massive space, we are Michigan’s largest State Park at nearly 60,000 acres and it is packed full of just all sorts of recreation opportunities,” said Katie Urban, Park Interpreter, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park. “So this whole park was created to save these old-growth maple forests that we have. The Porcupine Mountains is nearly 60,000 acres and 35,000 acres of that is the old-growth maple forest that has never been touched by an axe before or a saw. So you can come out and find some massive trees here in the park which is really, really cool. We’ve even gone beyond just making a State Park by being Michigan’s only Wilderness Designated State Park for those 35,000 acres which is really neat.”
From fishing, to rock hunting, hiking, waterfalls, backwoods camping in a yurt, and more, The Porcupine Mountains have something for everyone along with a picturesque view guaranteed with every activity.
“So we have the big three that we always tell people about, so number one, if you drive all the way up here you have to go to the Lake of the Clouds,” Urban said. “You’re up on this 200-foot cliff looking out into the interior of the park and it’s absolutely gorgeous. You’re looking at the water as it sparkles down below and it’s very neat. Also, we have Summit Peak which is the second highest point in Michigan and has a 35-foot observation tower that takes you up to the very tippy top of it. You get a great 360 view of Lake Superior and all the interior of the park if it’s not cloudy. Sometimes if it’s cloudy, it’s still kind of cool to look at all the fog that’s hanging over the Mountains. Number three and one of my favorite spots as well and it is Presque Isle that’s the very western side of our park. It’s where the three biggest waterfalls in the park are located and some really neat hiking trails you can actually go around and check out in that area as well. It has a beautiful suspension bridge that takes you along the river and you can actually look at the different kettle holes which are these really neat holes in the rocks that the water likes to swirl inside of. There are some very big trees in that area too. It’s just really good and a beautiful area over there”
When visiting, you aren’t just getting a relaxing outdoor experience, but you are also walking among some of the oldest history in the world.
“You’re not just coming out to go hiking and backpacking,” Urban said. “You’re coming out for that wilderness experience. We can tell you what wilderness is and we can give you an actual definition of what it is but until you come out and actually experience it, it’s a feeling you get from being somewhere that we are just here as guests. No people are living in the Porcupine Mountains, there are tons of animals that call this place their home, but no people are living here. It’s a temporary thing. To know that this place has not changed since the glaciers moved over it 10,000 years ago is kind of unique. It’s very special like I said, it’s a feeling that you have to take in when you’re here and it’s pretty addictive. There’s a lot of people that make lots of return trips, which is awesome.”
And when visiting, Urban’s number one tip is…
“Give yourself lots of time,” Urban said. “That’s probably the one thing I always hear people say when they come here is that we wish we would have planned more time here because it’s such a big place. You want to take the time to actually get down and view a lot of these things. It’s not something you could do in a couple of days or even a week depending on how much time you want to spend at each spot. Everyone always says I wish we had more time so give yourself lots of it.”
All vehicles entering any Michigan State Park including the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park must have a Michigan Recreation Pass. Michigan residents can get one when renewing your license plate, but passes may be purchased on sight at any of the State Parks as well.
The Porcupine Mountain Visitors Center is open every day from 8 am until 8 pm during the summertime.