About the Park
The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is located on the southern shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A short 20-minute drive west from Ontonagon will bring you to “the Porkies.” Twenty-six miles long and 10 miles wide, it offers 60,000 acres of natural beauty with varied accessibility, ranging from a stunning handicapped accessible vista to 90 miles of rugged backcountry trails. There are 25 miles of wave-washed Lake Superior shores, four inland lakes, entire river systems, countless waterfalls, enchanting wooded peaks, and an escarpment, which rises slowly from the edge of Lake Superior until it plummets abruptly into the Carp River Valley. Still, the most impressive feature of the Park and the reason for its creation is the virgin forest of eastern hemlock and northern hardwoods. This unique resource, sometimes called a “forest museum,” supports a wide variety of captivating flora and fauna.
The Porcupine Mountains’ cultural history begins with the Native Americans, who named the escarpment peaks after the crouched woodland porcupines they resemble. Europeans first came to the area in search of furs, and successive waves of natural resources extraction efforts followed. Between 1845 and 1910, 45 different copper mines operated in the Park. In the early 1900s, loggers harvested the easily reached shoreline pines.
The formation of the Park in 1945 was mainly a response to the efforts of local citizens to protect the old growth forest. Originally called Porcupine Mountains State Park, the Park gained its “wilderness’ designation and added wilderness to its name in 1972. It is the only state-designated wilderness area in Michigan. For more information about the Park, see: http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/wildlife/viewingguide/up/02Porcupine/index.htm
For more detailed information about the geology of the Park, visit: http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/edopps/PMGEO.pdf
Trip 5 at this site also contains geologic information about the Porkies: http://www.d.umn.edu/prc/lakesuperiorgeology/Volumes/ILSG_59_2013_pt2_Houghton.pdf
The Park offers a wide variety of activities for the outdoor enthusiast including hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, swimming, mountain biking, Alpine and Nordic skiing, and much more. The Park provides four-season recreation at its finest. A trip to the Porkies will be something you’re sure to remember, and you will want to visit again!