Greenstone Ridge Trail

A 40+ mile ridgeline trek across the mountainous backbone of Isle Royal National Park.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
65 km
Ascent
1.3 km
Descent
1.3 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
181 m
High Point
418 m
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Greenstone Ridge Trail Map

Description

Connecting Rock Harbor to Windigo by way of a long ridgeline, the Greenstone Ridge Trail is the cornerstone of Isle Royale's hiking trails. Acclaimed as "the state's best long-distance hike" by this source, it is "the trail where many hikers first break-in their shoulders hauling their gear and become backpackers for the rest of their lives." As one of the most-coveted hikes in the state of Michigan, it's a "beautiful and personally fulfilling hike" that every backpacker should experience at least once, the guide continues.

Greenstone Ridge is loaded with spectacular views, mountainous peaks and offers plenty of overnight camping options. One of these vistas, Lookout Louise, is a popular day hike near Rock Harbor that begins at the Hidden Lake boat ramp. Those hiking the traditional route from end to end will pass this spectacular viewpoint, though others sometimes choose to skip it since it requires a paddle or boat ride to/from Rock Harbor. To avoid crossing the harbor, a popular option on the eastern end of the trail is to connect Rock Harbor or Tobin Harbor Trail, then access Greenstone ridge via Mount Franklin Trail.

Generally speaking, most hikers and trail guides consider the Greenstone well-marked and a moderate hike at most. Others may find it more challenging, especially as the trail climbs over several quad-busting high points along the ridge. Seasoned hikers aim to complete the 40+ mile route in 3 days, "but the Greenstone can also be a good trail for beginners if they come with light packs and have 4 or 5 days to walk it," according to this source.

As for overnight camping, Daisy Farm, Lane Cove, and Three Mile are some of the more popular options closer to Rock Harbor. In contrast, the western portion of the trail hosts numerous primitive campsites along smaller lakes and ponds. Information on the park's many campgrounds and backcountry permits can be found here.

Popular day hikes incorporating portions of the Greenstone Trail include the aforementioned Lookout Louise, Mount Franklin, and Mount Ojibway, all somewhat closer to Rock Harbor than Windigo.

Source

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area