Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Summit Peak and the Surprise Hike

Monday June 23, 2014
Union Bay Campground
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Ontonagon, Michigan


David wants to hike up to the summit.




But he doesn’t want to hike the summit peak loop, instead he wants to hike the Overlook trail which is described as 2.7 miles, old growth forest, steep hills and scenic vistas with awe inspiring views.

But we do want to go to the highest spot in the park which is the Summit Peak Tower.  It’s only a 1/2 mile walk but whew, it is pretty straight up hill and that’s before you come to the stairs.  LOL



Second warning at the “are you sure you want to go through with this” point.   Ok, straight ahead!





There is a viewing platform before you go on to the fire tower. We stop there for some scenic vistas out over this 60,000 acres of protected wilderness.





A father and his four sons soon join us. 

They are redoing a family trip that they did 10 years ago when the oldest boy was 15.  He’ll be getting married in a week.  I thought this was a great family gesture as the young man begins his life and creates a new family.   We take a picture of them with their camera and they take a picture of us.





Through the portal and on to the tower we go.  More steps.  More up.  Summit Peak Elevation 1958’  Stop laughing those of you out west.

I guess you can’t cure stupid but you can put up warning signs.  I wonder if someone actually has gone up on this tower during a lightning storm.










It’s wonderful to share experiences and helpful advice.


When we get to the top, the 5 of them are there.  We share some experiences we have all had in the Porkies.  They want to see waterfalls, we tell them to go to Presque Isle.  David wants to hike the Overlook trail, they warn him that yesterday when they hiked it, it was really really muddy and advise to skip the first entrance at the trail head and take the “exit” instead.   That’s where the big trees are. Just go half way around and come back out.  Isn’t it nice to be able to help others and have them help you in turn?





What a beautiful blue sky puffy cloud day it is today.  Do we really want to go into the woods?  Well it’s that or stay here and look at them.







On to the Overlook Trail.

So down we go and onto the Government trail which is the center trail off of which all the others branch.  We’re wondering how it got this name.  Lots of silly ideas come to mind.  We’d love to hear your suggestions. 

Lots of trails go off from here obviously.  This sign tells how far their trailheads are from here.  The Overlook Trailhead is .7 miles.   Up the rocky path we go






Over boardwalks, through mud and tall trees.   We come to the first sign for the Overlook Trail but the guys told us to go on to the second, the exit.  No problem.   Looking at the map, it can’t be much further.




A little more mud, a lot more big trees.  This Government trail is really beautiful.





We must have missed it somehow.

By now it is pretty clear that we’ve gone over twice the .7 miles and have seen no second entrance or exit.  We suspect we should go back and look again but the trail is so pretty through the trees and the ferns  that we’ll go “just a little further” before turning around to see where we missed what we were looking for.




And then David says, is that water or the wind.




It’s water and I know that Trapp Falls was 2.4 miles down this trail which means we have gone a lot further than we think and we are getting close to the falls. 

So rather than turn back, we hurry on following the sound of the water.  Through the trees I see THE backpacking site I want, on a day with no mosquitoes mind you.  I wonder when that would be?  September??




It’s a backpacker’s heaven.


It’s RIGHT on the river.   Oh just think of being lulled to sleep in your sleeping bag in your tent by the sound of this water with owls calling outside and not another soul anywhere around.







We start following the river knowing the falls have to be on it.






Are these the falls?   The trail doesn’t go here.   Maybe we’d better go back to the trail.  AFTER we spend a little time here and take too many pictures.






I’ll bet this guy likes the edges of the water better than the falls.  He’s pretty well hidden here in these leaves.  He’s a pretty fat little toady too.


Such a pretty river.   Is this the Trapp Falls??  It’s sure an enchanting spot.





OK well that’s not it since the sign says we still have .3 miles.  

Back on the trail again.  More of the beautiful river.






Just after I take this picture of David in the midst of big trees like we missed on the Overlook trail, I hear him say “I found it”.   And he sure did.




It’s Trapp Falls at last.

I don’t know that it is any lovelier than the falls on down stream from it but it is a beauty.







A beautiful waterfall with an old growth tree beside it is about as good as it gets for us.



We have our LATE lunch here and take this selfie of us in our bug hats sans the nets.




I really could stay here forever but the time is getting late and it is clearly mosquito cocktail hour.  We’ve had so much experience, we can almost tell time by the mosquitoes.   Fewer problems after 8am and before 4pm.   Keep that in mind.  Well unless you are at Tahquamenon Falls and there all bets are off.





If you are moving, the mosquitoes  have more trouble getting you but if you pause or stop they find you.  I only stop for really important things like tree hugs and take almost no pictures on the hike out.  David takes a few, these among them showing not only the size of the trees but the size of the obstacles in comparison with the length of at least one hiker’s legs.








We got one of the hikes we came for and traded the other for a real surprise. 

We’re happy hikers.


  1. Looks like you guys are finding some really nice hikes. Wonder if you have to wait until the first freeze before the mosquitoes are gone?

  2. I had no idea there were so many waterfalls in that area.

  3. I thought I might lose you when we first heard the water on the trail. You took off like a shot, and were it not for the lovely camp site I wonder if I could have caught up. I'm glad we missed the Overlook trail as it could not have been prettier than this stream with all its falls, cascades and old growth trees. What a pleasure.

  4. I know you'd love to have no one else around in the wilderness, but you have to share. ;c)

    Plus, the more human targets there are, the fewer skeeters to attack you! :cD

  5. I could sit and look at waterfalls all day! beautiful pictures.

  6. Another lovely hike! That tower looks daunting but the views are sure worth the climb. Always nice to share a short visit with friendly hikers - and to help each other out :-). Love the pic of you on the log watching the water fall. Nature always looks bigger when you're in the shot :-))))))).

    1. Thank you Jodee for your wonderful comments. I'm afraid that actually everything looks bigger when I'm in any picture. David looks bigger, everything looks bigger. LOL

  7. I noted it frequently asked the best time to visit this area. September is generally accepted as the best month to escape crowds, bugs, and rain. Colors are at their best around the first or second week of October.

    David and Sherry - I took a look see at the DNR website for reserve-able campsites on the North Shore, my search did not come up with any, this may be due to a conflict between the website and Windows 8 however. Ain't technology grand!! I am of the opinion that due to 30% of the available campsites being non reservable, you should be able to find a site midweek by early arrival. There are municipal campgrounds in Two Harbors and Grand Marais. National Forest campsites abound inland in Superior National Forest.

    It may also interest you to know that Cascade River State Park is looking for campground hosts in August and September for one month. Imagine that in scenery that you are currently experiencing with unlimited opportunities for hiking and kayaking

  8. We love it when things don't go as planned and instead turn out even better:o)) Some of our best surprises came when we didn't follow the plan!! That was a beautiful hike!!

  9. That was a lot of Up! Good workout for a lovely view :) You didn't find the '2nd entrance', but you found that lovely camping spot and falls-a great result! Beautiful pictures as always :) Yay for happy hikers!!

  10. I think that's the best "selfie" yet. The looks on both of your faces is priceless and you could easily sponsor a contest for captions as to exactly what each of you are thinking! So the mystery remains...did you or did you NOT go back and hike the Overlook trail? Did you find the second entrance on your return that day?

  11. Love these surprise hikes. The adventure is so much a part of it. You found some awesome waterfalls and gorgeous old growth trees. Fun day:)

  12. Isn't it cool to have common interests with strangers? Love the view from that tower!

  13. Very pretty! I was getting tired "watching" you do all of that uphill hiking. Water is lovely- nothing better than that sound. Love little fat toady!

  14. Oh boy, you guys have really shown us what to do out there. Another great hike with lots of surprises. Sometimes we don't mind those stairs because going on it is a already a workout.
    Another winner of a hike.

  15. We find hiking in the dry western climate to be much easier than in the heat and humidity of the east, no matter what the elevation!

  16. You'd make the perfect Park Ranger but will have to work on stamina to climb out west. ;) A great hike you found accidentally.


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