Minong Ridge

A rugged and wild backcountry trail with exposed ridgetops and rock cairns guiding the way.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
42 km
Ascent
965 m
Descent
967 m
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
182 m
High Point
314 m
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Minong Ridge Map

Description

The Minong Ridge Trail is "not only the most challenging stretch of the Isle Royale's 161-mile trail system, but arguably the hardest hike in Michigan," this source proclaims! Paralleling the iconic Greenstone Ridge Trail to the north, this 26+ mile multi-day hike offers a premier backcountry experience with exposed ridgetop views and endless rock cairns to guide you along the ridge.

Passing through remote and rugged backcountry, backpackers first began hiking the trail after it "was cut in the mid-1960's as a 'fire manway,' a route firefighters could use to access the isolated northern half of the island." It quickly gained popularity among hikers, which led the park to "maintain the route as a primitive trail with as few markers, bridges, and boardwalks as possible." That alone, the author continues, is "the appeal and the challenge of hiking Minong Ridge."

The western terminus for Minong Ridge is at Windigo on the southwest end of Isle Royale. The trail officially terminates in McCargoe Cove at a campground, which requires hikers to arrange transport via water to Rock Harbor or back to Windigo. On average, hikers should plan 3 to 4 days to hike the entire trail.

An alternative - and popular solution - is to continue on either Chickenbone or Indian Portage Trail to Greenstone Ridge. This allows hikers passage into the northeastern portion of the park, specifically Rock Harbor. This option adds another day or two to hike to Rock Harbor.

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

May, June, July, August, September, October

Features

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

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area