FATMAP difficulty grade
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](https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterzuni/3813727928/in/photolist-6NWbMr-6P1mdA-6P1mww-6P1mrN-6P1m4W/)! 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](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2707778/greenstone-ridge-trail).
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](https://www.michigantrailmaps.com/member-detail/isle-royale-np-minong-ridge-trail-map-1/)