Tucked in between two high ridges inside Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Lake of the Clouds, one of Michigan’s most beautiful spots. It’s a popular destination for visitors to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Lake of the Clouds
Lake of the Clouds is viewed from the overlook inside Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. From Ontonogan, head west on a beautiful drive along Lake Superior’s shore on M-64. When you reach the park the road becomes 107th Engineers Memorial Highway. Continue until you arrive at the parking area for the overlook.
It’s just a short walk from the parking lot to the overlook. You can take a wooded trail or use the ADA accessible trail. Either way, you find yourself high on a ridge soaring over the valley with the gorgeous Lake of the Clouds below. If it’s a sunny day with white, fluffy clouds, you’ll see them in the reflection of bright blue water. Accessible boardwalks at the overlook give everyone a chance to see the view from different angles. Be sure to have your camera handy. It’s one of the U.P’s most photogenic spots.
Summit Peak Observation Tower is another location of note in the park. At almost 2,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest point in the park. This spot, unfortunately, is not ADA accessible. From the parking area, a 3/4-mile hike takes you to a 50-foot high tower. The trail includes several small sets of steps as well as a larger staircase with 54 steps that takes you to the top of the tower. From the top, the observation deck gives you a view of the Porcupine Mountains, their pristine forests and Lake Superior. You can see the Apostle Islands and Isle Royale on a clear day.
Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park
Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park is a 60,000-acre park with the largest remaining old-growth northern hardwood forest west of the Adirondacks. This undeveloped, vast, pristine wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is full of adventure for outdoor lovers. There’s much more to see and do at the park after viewing Lake of the Clouds for people looking for challenging outdoor experiences. Ninty miles of hiking trails cross rivers, lead to hidden waterfalls and lakes and offer forest, valley and mountaintop views. With so many trails to choose from almost everyone can find a trail that fits their skill level. However many of the trails are difficult because of the terrain and remote location.
Camping in the Park
Camping is also allowed in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Union Bay campground offers modern camping with electricity at campsites as well as a modern restroom building with showers. Presque Isle campground offers rustic camping with vault toilets and access to water via a handpump. Hike-in rustic cabins and yurts are also available. For the more adventurous, backcountry camping is allowed at 63 designated spots within the park. All campsites are reservable through the Michigan DNR’s website.
Wildlife in the Park
Wildlife you may come across in the park includes black bears. If camping you need to take precautions with proper food storage and disposal. You should also be on the lookout while hiking. Moose, bobcat and wolves may also be present, but you’re unlikely to spot them. Coyotes are very prevalent in the park. Streams feature steelhead, salmon and brook trout. Fishing is allowed in the park. Some places in the park are catch-and-release only. For any fishing in the park, you will need to purchase a Michigan fishing license. Birdwatching is also a popular activity in the park. Loons, bald eagles and falcons are among some of the favorites of ornithological enthusiasts.
Other Seasons in the Park
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is open all year. In the fall it offers amazing fall color viewing. In the winter the park receives over 100 inches of snow each winter. Downhill and cross-country skiing can be enjoyed at the park as well as snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
Know Before You Go
- .Entry with a vehicle into Michigan state parks requires a Recreation Passport. Residents can purchase one from the Secretary of State for $12 or $17 at the park. Out-of-state visitors can purchase an annual pass at the park for $34 or a daily pass for $9.
- Open hours change seasonally. Some roads and trails my also close seasonally. Visit the park’s website for current information.
- Ontonogan is the closest town to the park. You can find gas, food and lodging here as well as historical attractions such as the Ontonagon lighthouse.
- Temperatures vary in the U.P. even in summer. Warm afternoons give way to chilly evenings and cool mornings. Dress in layers. Have a sweatshirt handy.
- Bring bug spray in the spring and summer. If you plan on going deep in the woods consider a face net and clothes treated with permethrin.