Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Porcupine Mountains, MI

  • Published 2022/08/07

The Porcupine Mountains in Michigan are the perfect destination if you love nature and the great outdoors.

With miles of hiking trails, rivers and streams, and a 35,000-acre old-growth forest, this state park has no shortage of beauty and adventure.

At 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains is the largest state park in the Midwest.

It’s also one of the country’s few remaining large wilderness areas.

Fondly referred to as the “Porkies,” the Porcupine Mountains are also home to the famous Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

As the largest state park in Michigan, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park also offers various visitor activities and attractions.

Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors or relax in a beautiful setting, the Porcupine Mountains have something for every outdoor enthusiast.

Here are the best things to do in the Porcupine Mountains.

Enjoy the View from the Lake of the Clouds Overlook

Scenic view of Lake of the Clouds Overlook

Kristen Prahl /

One of the most popular attractions in the Porcupine Mountains is the Lake of the Clouds.

This place is a must-see in the area, and one of the most photographed spots in Michigan.

The best way to see the lake is from the Lake of the Clouds Overlook on the South Boundary Road.

You’ll get an incredible view of the lake as it sits nestled among the trees.

People admiring the view from Lake of the Clouds Overlook

Bella Vita Images /

The Lake of the Clouds is a hidden gem in the middle of the thick forest.

The best time to visit is late spring and summer, when the valley turns emerald green as the trees come to life.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try visiting Lake of the Clouds Overlook outside spring and summer.

During the winter, the view is just as stunning, with a blanket of snow covering the landscape.

Boardwalk trail leading to Lake of the Clouds Overlook

melissamn /

Drop by the Visitors Center

The Visitors Center should be your first stop upon arriving in the Porcupine Mountains.

Here, you can learn about the history and geology of the area, as well as pick up a map of the park.

Located at the state park entrance, the center is open daily from morning to evening.

The center introduces visitors to the rich historical heritage of the Porkies.

Likewise, it also serves as a miniature museum, featuring exhibits and programs that depict the history of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The center also has a mini-auditorium that accommodates 100 people.

The Visitors Center also displays the rich wildlife of the area.

You’ll see a gray wolf, porcupine, goshawk, bear, beaver, falcon, and more.

Check Out the Magnificent Waterfalls

Manabezho Falls in Porcupine mountains

Craig Sterken /

The Porcupine Mountains is home to 70 waterfalls you should explore while in the area.

Some famous waterfalls include Manabezho Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Manitou Falls.

Manabezho Falls is the largest waterfall in the Porcupine Mountains.

The falls flow over a sandstone ledge carved by glaciers.

Manidof falls in porcupine mountains

James W. Thompson /

Rainbow Falls is one of the unique waterfalls in the area, as it’s two waterfalls in one.

The upper falls flow over a cliff of red conglomerate rock, while the lower falls flow over a ridge of gray sandstone.

If you’re in the Porcupine Mountains, explore at least one of the many waterfalls.

They’re truly a sight to behold.

Cascades of Manabezho Falls

Jason Patrick Ross /

Join the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival

One of the best things to do in the Porcupine Mountains is attend the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival.

This festival is one of the most awaited events in the area, featuring various musical genres.

Held every August, the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival is a three-day event that features various musical genres.

You won’t run out of space at the festival because of the venue’s indoor and outdoor stages.

Past performers include JigJam, Circus of Dreams, the Slambovian, Raye Zaragoza, Lillie Lewis, and more.

If you’re a fan of live music, then you don’t want to miss this event.

Go Hiking along the Porcupine Mountain Trails

Signage of Lake Superior Trail

melissamn /

The Porcupine Mountains is home to 16 miles of hiking trails, making it a haven for hikers of all skill levels.

Some of the most popular trails include the Lake Superior Trail, which offers stunning views.

Grassy shore of Lake Superior Trail

Anapalana /

Enjoy the View at Summit Peak

Aerial view of Summit Peak tower trail


Summit Peak is the highest point in the Porcupine Mountains.

Rising approximately 2,000 feet above sea level, it’s the perfect spot to take in sweeping views of the area.

Climb to the top of Summit Peak, and you’ll see breathtaking views of the surrounding forests, lakes, and rivers.

You’ll also find a 50-foot observation tower at Summit Peak.

From there, you can see Lake Superior and Isle Royale on a clear day.

With the majestic view and the fresh air, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Trail leading to Summit Peak

Danita Delimont /

Take a Hike on the Porcupine Mountains Escarpment Trail

Lake of the clouds view from Escarpment Trail

Steve Lagreca /

Porcupine Mountains is home to a multitude of trails.

However, none are as scenic and unique as the Porcupine Mountains Escarpment Trail.

This 8.3-mile trail takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the area.

You’ll hike through dense forests, past waterfalls, and stunning views along the escarpment’s edge.

There are tons of trailheads to get started.

However, the easiest route begins at the Lake of the Clouds Overlook.

The Porcupine Mountains Escarpment Trail hike ranges from moderate to challenging, making it perfect for experienced hikers.

Tall trees along Escarpment Trail

Jason Patrick Ross /

Set up Camp in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

A campsite at porcupine mountains

RonaldL /

Camping is one of the most popular things to do outdoors.

There’s no better place to camp than in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

The park is home to a modern campground with over 60 sites.

The sites have fire pits, picnic tables, and water and electric hookups.

The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park offers backcountry camping if you’re looking for a more rustic experience.

With over 60 sites to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to set up camp.

Remember that you can also camp in designated areas.

Don’t venture off the beaten path, or you might get lost in the dense wilderness.

Canoe or Kayak Down the Presque Isle River

The waters of Presque Isle River

Wildnerdpix /

The Presque Isle River is one of Michigan’s most popular canoeing and kayaking destinations.

With its gentle flow and scenic views, the river is perfect for experienced paddlers and beginners.

There are several different starting points along the river.

However, the most popular starting point is at the Presque Isle Campground.

You can paddle downstream for approximately 3.5 miles before landing at the Little Presque Isle Campground.

The whole trip along the Presque Isle River takes about two to three hours, and is the perfect way to spend a day in the great outdoors.

Go Fishing at the Presque Isle River

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park offers miles of rivers and streams, making it an angler’s paradise.

Some popular spots include the Presque Isle River, the Little Presque Isle River, and Lake Superior.

Whether you’re an experienced angler or just getting started, you will have a great time fishing in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Relax at the Ontonagon Township Park

Sandy beach at porcupine mountains

Camille Hyytinen /

There’s no better way to relax and soak up the sun than at the beach.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park has some of the best beaches in Michigan.

The park is home to several scenic beaches, including Ontonagon Township Park, Union Bay, and Black River Harbor Recreation Area.

Each beach has its unique charm and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or take a swim, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the perfect destination.

Choose from the different beaches and find the ideal spot to soak up the sun.

Go Trekking at the Union Mine Interpretive Trail

Rapids along Union Mine Interpretive Trail

James W. Thompson /

Porcupine Mountains, Michigan, has no shortage of hiking trails.

The Union Mine Interpretive Trail is among the most popular routes you should explore.

This scenic and easy loop trail is a mile long and goes through thick, towering trees.

It also follows a historic river corridor used since the 1800s.

The Union Mine Interpretive Trail is the perfect way to learn about the history of the Porcupine Mountains while getting some fresh air and exercise.

You will also pass by the 30-foot Gorge Falls, the tallest waterfall in the Porkies.

Small mushrooms along Union Mine Interpretive Trail

James W. Thompson /

Take a Scenic Drive Down the Presque Isle River Road

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is home to some of the most scenic roads in Michigan.

One of the best ways to experience the park’s beauty is by driving down the Presque Isle River Road.

This scenic byway winds through the heart of the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding wilderness.

The road is also home to several points of interest, including the Presque Isle River Campground and the Little Presque Isle River Campground.

In addition, the Presque Isle River Road is the perfect place to go for a leisurely drive.

If you’re looking to relax and take in the beauty of the Porcupine Mountains, this is the ideal road for you.

Visit Nonesuch Mine

Porcupine Mountains is home to several historic mines.

One of the most famous mines to visit is Nonesuch Mine.

You can find this abandoned copper mine on the historical site off South Boundary Road.

It’s one of the best-preserved mines in the area.

Visitors can explore the mine’s tunnels and see the old mining equipment.

The hike reaching the site takes roughly a mile, and you’ll also enjoy the view of the majestic Nonesuch Falls.

Pay Respects at the B-17 Crash Site

The Porcupine Mountains is also where a tragic event in United States history took place.

In 1944, a B-17 bomber crashed into the side of a mountain, resulting in the deaths of all 12 crew members.

You can see the crash site etched into the mountainside, which has become a popular tourist destination.

It is a reminder of the sacrifices of the men and women who served in World War II.

Visitors can see the wreckage of the plane as well as a memorial that honors the crew members who lost their lives.

In addition, visitors often leave flowers and other tributes to the fallen crew members.

Relax and Unwind at the Union Springs

The Porkies also has the second-largest terrestrial spring in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

As a result, Union Spring is a great place to relax and take in the beauty of nature.

You can find the spring on the park’s north side, easily accessible from the Union Mine Interpretive Trail.

In addition, there are several different picnic spots nearby, making it the perfect place to have a picnic lunch.

The spring maintains a steady temperature of 32 degrees all year round.

Once you reach the place, you can relax and unwind to the sound of the water gurgling from the spring.

Visit Shining Clouds Falls

It’s only fitting to end your trip to the Porcupine Mountains by visiting one of its most famous natural attractions, Shining Clouds Falls.

You can find this magnificent waterfall on the Little Carp River.

It’s also one of the best places in the park to take pictures.

In addition, several different hiking trails lead to the falls, so you can also make a day of hiking.

Final Thoughts

The Porkies is truly a unique and special place.

Thanks to its many sights and activities, it’s no wonder it’s one of Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations.

The Porcupine Mountains is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

It has never-ending trails, roaring waterfalls, and unrivaled vistas.

With so much to see and do, it’s the perfect place to spend a weekend or a weeklong vacation.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, add the Porcupine Mountains to your list of places to visit in Michigan.

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