|View of Lake of the Clouds from the Escarpment Trail, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park|
The Michigan segment of the Fifty Trail includes the 212-mile Wisconsin portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail. The 67 mile footpath through Chequamegon State Forest is the original, the oldest, and namesake portion for the North Country Trail.
Crossing into Michigan, the route begins with a 27.5 mile road walk, at first along the shores of Lake Superior passing through Little Girl’s Point County Park, then turning inland past Gogebic County Airport and the Copper Peak Ski Jump. At Copper Peak the trail leaves the North Country Trail briefly to follow a 1.8 mile mountain bike trail route through the Copper Peak Ski area property. Half a mile later the trail leaves roads for the fifty mile ‘Heart of’ segment, first beside the Black River passing several outstanding waterfalls then through some remote back country on a section of trail currently or recently rerouted, then entering Presque Isle State Park. The Fifty Trail follows the North Country Trail route along the Presque Isle River and then enters Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, proceeding along the Lake Superior Trail to the junction with the Little Carp River Trail. Here, departing from the North Country Trail the Fifty Trail continues along the lake Superior Trail for some excellent lakeside views then follows the Big Carp River Trail, the popular Escarpment Trail with its signature views of Lake of The Clouds, photo above, then Government Peak Trail and Mirror Lake Trail (be sure to take the side trip to Summit Peak, highest point in the park and nearly the high point of Michigan). Emerging at the South Mirror Lake Trailhead, there’s a 0.7 mile road walk to the Lily Pond Trailhead where the Fifty Trail rejoins the North Country Trail as it crosses South Boundary Road and leaves the Park.
Approaching the ridge line of the Trap Hills, the Fifty Trail departs from the North Country Trail again to follow the Gogebic Ridge Trail southwestward to near Lake Gogebic. An 8 mile road walk beside Lake Gogebic, the largest inland lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and a few more miles on Ottawa National Forest woods-roads to the town of Marenisco brings the hiker to US 2 and the bicycle route of Michigan’s state-wide Iron Belle Trail. The route follows Old US 2 and then the paved rails-to-trails section of the Iron Belle Rail Trail west to Ironwood and the Wisconsin state line.
MAPS and TRAIL GUIDES:
Copper Mountain Bike Trail map. Fifty Trail route follows Red and Blue trails between points 4 and 1 on Copper Peak Road. https://copperpeak.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Copper-Peak-bike-trails-2017.pdf
Porcupine Mountains Trail map. Color version available at visitor center: http://www.michigandnr.com/Publications/PDFS/RecreationCamping/Porkies_Unit.pdf
HEART OF THE TRAIL:
An arc through the Porcupine Mountains, Copper Mountain Trailhead to Mirror Lake Trailhead via North Country Trail, Government Peak Trail, Escarpment Trail, and Carp River Trail. (50 miles or a bit more depending on planned reroute.)