Ask anyone what is a must-see when visiting Porcupine Mountains State Park, you will always hear "Lake of the Clouds." In fact, it is often described as one of the premiere scenic attractions in the entire state.
From the Visitor's Center, you take M-107 for about 7 miles until you get to the ranger station. An entrance fee or the Michigan Recreation Passport is required. After that, there are signs that warn of steep grade to dead end and no trailers over 40 feet are allowed. You then arrive at a kiosk with area information, and a choice of pathways to two different viewpoints, including an ADA accessible boardwalk to get to the main viewpoint.
The shade and intensity of this color blue was breathtaking.
The walkway to the right took me along the boardwalk with viewpoints scattered along the cliffside.
There are other trails of varying lengths and difficulty that you can pick up from here and also a way to get to the mouth of the Big Carp River.
I met Chris Arace, a photographer who was working on shots for Pure Michigan and I really enjoyed watching him work "beyond the boundaries" – cool dude and great work as many of his shots have been featured in magazines, calendars, etc. Chris said a lot of people call this view the ultimate Michigan Upper Peninsula picture and I can see why!
I loved this place so much, I returned again for a second visit when I knew my time at Porcupine Mountains State Park was coming to an end. At this viewpoint I met a couple from New York and we got to talking about sights we had been seeing. They asked what was my favorite place so far. I thought they meant in Michigan, so I said, “Right here – everything I’ve seen in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.” They seemed a little shocked and said - “With everything you’ve seen in 10 years of fulltime RVing around the country, this is your favorite??” While I clarified at that point I was talking about Michigan, I realized their original idea is not really so far fetched…
Bob Wild, the Park Interpreter, led a group of us from the campground on a relatively easy hike to another vantage point one afternoon along the Cloud Peak Trail which led to a different perspective of the lake from the other side.
No matter the vantage point, the view was always breathtaking and inspiring, especially as the sun was starting to set here.
Walking back, I really liked how the setting sun was casting orange beams through the trees here.
On the way back, I stopped at the Mead Mine picnic area and caught this beautiful sunset on Lake Superior.
More links about Lake of the Clouds:
Lake of the Clouds Overlook (Hunt's Guide to the Upper Peninsula)
The Department of Natural Resources offer an audio guide that takes you from the Visitor's Center along M-107 with information on stops you can make along the way or things to look for. You can download the mp3 files to your smartphone or mp3 player, refer to the accompanying map with matching numbers on signs you'll see along the roadside.
You'll be alerted to trailheads, a picnic site, and even an abandoned copper mine (Carp Lake Mine or locally known as Mead Mine) where you can venture in about 100 feet, but the pictures of the bats on the information sign out front made me pass on that trip.
I'd love to hear your own experiences about places I've been - and what you think are "must-sees" - and I really value any suggestions and feedback from readers, so please let me have your 2 cents in Comments below: