A Day in the Porkies

Tina Lassen, Michigan Travel Ideas contributing writer, shares a day from her girlfriend getaway to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Ever year my friends and I set aside a weekend to get together. This involves juggling of schedules, but it’s so worth it.

This year, we traded talcum-white Gulf of Mexico beaches for lofty white pines and the rocky shore of Lake Superior, setting our sights on Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

All five of us, friends since high school, arrive at Peterson’s Chalet Cottages within minutes of each other. Our rental vacation home has more than enough space but we all drift toward the kitchen.

We segue into familiar roles—some old habits, some reflections of our new lives. J.J. loves to cook and begins putting together appetizers, complete with spices she brought from North Carolina. Nelly tends bar. I’ve spent lots of time in the UP researching travel books and travel articles, so I pull out my maps and plan hikes. While unpacking groceries with Nancy, our social guru Faith brings us up-to-date on other classmates.

Petersons CottagesAfter an evening of reminiscing, laughing and eating too much food, we finally turn in for the night. The rumble of Lake Superior lulls me to sleep.

The next morning, we treat ourselves to a leisurely breakfast at Lynn’s Cafe (formerly Harbor Town Cafe) in Ontonagon before leaving for the sprawling state park.

We walk to the park’s iconic viewpoint, the Lake of the Clouds Overlook. Here the forest simply falls away; hundreds of feet below, the Porkies spread out in all their glory. The serene deep blue lake sluices through a rumpled landscape of emerald peaks and valleys flecked in copper and gold.

Iconic ViewpointA few of the park’s finest trails spiral off here, including the Big Carp River Trail, a beauty that leads west along the exposed bluff before descending to old-growth forest and a gurgling trout stream. It’s a blustery day, so I suggest the more protected Overlook Trail, a 3-mile route that winds through fat birches and stately hemlocks.

Out-of-use hiking muscles bring our entourage to seats in front of a glowing fireplace at Paul’s Superior View Restaurant. We enjoy a delicious dinner of fresh lake trout, mood-enhanced by the sight of Lake Superior lapping onto the shore. It is the perfect way to end our day. Good food, great friends and a healthy dose of nature—what else do you need?

Tina Lassen, Michigan Travel Ideas contributing writer, has written extensively about Michigan for magazines, such as Midwest Living and National Geographic Adventure, and for guidebooks, including Moon Michigan and 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: In the USA and Canada.

  • Kathleen

    Ah, the memories, thanks for sharing! I backpacked with some friends through the Porcupine Mountains about 15 years ago. Loved “The rumble of Lake Superior lulls me to sleep.” Great choice for a girls weekend!

  • Gary Putz

    My wife and I were at the Porkies the week of Oct. 3rd, we camped at Union Bay right on the shore line. Lost lake trail is beautiful also. I may live in Wisconsin, but my heart is in the U.P

  • J Pilette

    I know what you mean. Last year my sisters and I were up to the porkies and view the best of both worlds It had snowed and all the branches were painted with whit , but also the fall colors wer still in full view.What a scenic view. One we will never forget