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Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

Just wondering if anybody has done any backpacking in northern wisconsin near Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest?

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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

@Nathan1 unfortunately I haven't gotten that far along the Northern border yet, but while you are in the area you should check out the backpacking in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula!

www.brynsharpphotography.com
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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

@bryndsharp Yes, I am looking to backpack that soon. Do you have any advice for the Porkies?

 

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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

I have tons! Could you be a bit more specific? Are you wanting advice on: which trails to hike/not hike, where to camp, when to go, what to bring, weather, trail conditions, etc.? How many days would you plan on backpacking there / what amount of distance do you want to cover? @Nathan1 

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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

Yes, I am looking at a couple nights in mid September. I am sort of new to backpacking so wondering if you had any advice as to what trail loops would be best for a two night stay. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

@Nathan1 How many miles do you usually walk per day with a full backpacking backpack on more or less flat ground? This will help me give recommendations. 🙂

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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

@bryndsharp I am thinking about doing about 25 to 30 miles total, but not sure exactly. Probably looking to start at the Escarpment Trail make my way either down Lake Superior Trail or Big Carp Trail and loop around at some point. 

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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

@Nathan1 great! One big piece of advice is to make sure to reserve your campsites in advance - the closer it gets to the dates you want to go, the harder it will be to find site availability. You can reserve sites at this link. Be sure to select "backcountry" up at the top of the screen to search for backcountry campsites.

Here are two loops I would recommend as options for you:

#1 - Lake of the Clouds/Superior/Lily Pond/Mirror Lake

  • Approx. Distance: 27.8 miles
  • Number of Days: 3 Days/2 Nights
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/Moderate (distance is the biggest factor here)
  • Itinerary:
    • Day 1 (10.7 mi)
      • Park at Lake of the Clouds (2 parking options circled in blue on map below) (if you park at Lk of Clds Scenic Area, Day 1 will be approx. 11.7 mi and Day 3 7.1 mi; if you park at the other marked parking area, Day 1 will be approx. 10/7 mi and Day 3 8.1 mi)
      • Hike Lake Superior Trail
      • Camp along Superior at one of the sites LS-4 to LS-9 (note that some of these campsites have mice, so don't leave your food lying around - hang it up when you're not using it)
      • Water source(s): Lake Superior
    • Day 2 (9 mi)
      • Hike Little Carp River Trail 
      • Camp along Little Carp River at sites LC-3 or LC-4 (LC-3 is ideal, as it's literally right along the river. However, it's also right next to the trail, so camp at LC-4 if that's unappealing)
      • Water source(s): Lake Superior, Little Carp River
    • Day 3 (8.1 mi)
      • River crossing right after campsites LC-3 and LC-4
      • Hike Little Carp River Trail → Mirror Lake → North Mirror Lake Trail → where you parked 
      • Water source(s): Little Carp River, Lily Pond, Mirror Lake, Lake of the Clouds
  • Note-worthy Sites: Lake Superior (Day 1/2), waterfalls/river (Day 2), Lily Pond (Day 3), Mirror Lake (Day 3), Lake of the Clouds (Day 3)
  • Trail Conditions: Sections of the trails are often quite muddy, so be prepared to walk off-trail/around muddy areas. This will slow you down significantly and tire you out much faster, so be sure to give yourself ample hiking time. There are no huge elevation changes, but a good number of smaller hills, some of which have a decent incline. There is one river crossing on this route. Mosquitoes are prevalent due to the amount of water in the area, but are manageable when using bug spray.
  • Trip Essentials: Bug spray, water filter/purifier and water skin (to hold filtered water), bear spray (I have yet to see a bear in this park, but I have found several fresh footprints before), rope/bag for a bear hang (all sites have bear poles, so no matter what you'll need a bear bag/other kind of bag to be hung, but bring rope/twine in case the bear pole is damaged), rain jacket, water shoes/sandals (for water crossings), small towel, poop kit/shovel, TP, hammock* (this is a very wet/damp area, and I personally don't like getting my butt wet in order to sit down haha)

25-30 mile trip idea.jpg

 

#2 - Little Carp River Road/Superior/Mirror Lake/Lily Pond

  • Approx. Distance: 20.4 miles
  • Number of Days: 3 Days/2 Nights
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/Moderate (distance + elevation + trail conditions)
  • Itinerary:
    • Day 1 (6.5-7.5 mi)
      • Park at Little Carp River Road/Trail Access
      • Hike Little Carp River Trail to Lake Superior
      • Camp along Superior at one of the sites LS-4 to LS-9 (note that some of these campsites have mice, so don't leave your food lying around - hang it up when you're not using it)
      • Water source(s): Little Carp River, Lake Superior
    • Day 2 (7.6-8.6 mi)
      • Hike Lake Superior Trail → Big Carp River Trail → Correction Line Trail → Mirror Lake
      • River Crossing along Big Carp River Trail
      • Camp along Mirror Like at one of the sites SML-1 to SML-4 (SML-1 is right on the water; SML-2 (I would not recommend this site) has a view of the lake but the view is blocked by SML-1's site, and there is no privacy between SML-1 and SML-2 sites; SML-3 is right on the water, but is more private than SML-1, as it is further off the trail; SML-4 is up a small hill, by far the most private site, and has a beautiful view of the lake; ALL SITES SHARE THE SAME BEAR POLE)
      • Water source(s): Lake Superior, Big Carp River, Mirror Lake
    • Day 3 (5.3 mi)
      • Hike Little Carp River Trail → Little Carp River Road/Trail Access (where you parked)
      • River Crossing along Little Carp River Trail
      • Water source(s): Mirror Lake, Lily Pond, Little Carp River
  • Note-worthy Sites: Waterfalls/river (Day 1), Lake Superior (Day 1/2), Bathtub Falls (Day 2), Shining Cloud Falls (Day 2), Mirror Lake (Day 2/3), Lily Pond (Day 3); You don't get to see Lake of the Clouds on this route, you can drive to the Lake of the Clouds Scenic Overlook if you want to see the lake
  • Trail Conditions: Sections of the trails are often quite muddy, so be prepared to walk off-trail/around muddy areas. This will slow you down significantly and tire you out much faster, so be sure to give yourself ample hiking time. There are no huge elevation changes, but a good number of smaller hills, some of which have a decent incline. There are two river crossings on this route. Mosquitoes are prevalent due to the amount of water in the area, but are manageable when using bug spray.
  • Trip Essentials: Bug spray, water filter/purifier (be sure to treat ALL water prior to consumption) and water skin (to hold filtered water), bear spray (I have yet to see a bear in this park, but I have found several fresh footprints before), rope/bag for a bear hang (all sites have bear poles, so no matter what you'll need a bear bag/other kind of bag to be hung, but bring rope/twine in case the bear pole is damaged), rain jacket, water shoes/sandals (for water crossings), small towel, poop kit/shovel, TP, hammock* (this is a very wet/damp area, and I personally don't like getting my butt wet in order to sit down haha)

20-25 miles trip idea - green.jpg

 

 

I am also adding a picture below that has backcountry backpacking info that might help you out.

Porkies_BackcountryBackpackingGuide.jpg

 

 

Hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions!

www.brynsharpphotography.com
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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

@Nathan1 Another thing - DON'T take the Cross Trail! It's in very bad condition, with almost the entire trail being muddy bog, with a good number of gullies you have to scramble up and down. You have to walk off-trail quite a bit to avoid shin-deep mud and water. 

www.brynsharpphotography.com
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Re: Backpacking Northern Wisconsin

Wow, thank you so much for all of your help 😀. Just a couple quick questions: 

  • Do you know of any other trails that might be in bad condition currently besides the Cross Trail?
  • Do you feel that bear spray is necessary if I have a bear bag that I am storing food in to go at the top of the bear pole?

Thank you,

Nathan 

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