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Old 06-02-2006, 10:32 AM   #1
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Porcupine Mt. State Park....

Greetings.

Anyone been up that way? We are leaving next weekend- just in time for mid-mosquito and black fly season.

We bought a couple of those goofy mosquito hat things for our hiking, and a 55 gallon drum of OFF.

We are aiming for the Union Bay campground. It has electric and dump. We liked the sound of Presque Isle campground, but I think I'll be busy enough swatting insects, and could leave another 50 pounds at home.

Is there any biking up there. I don't mean mountain bike type biking, but bike type trails. We brought our bikes up to Pictured Rock and the bike riding was limited due to the condition of the paths for us tea-toteling bikes. We ended up riding mostly on the busy main road up there....not much fun.

So if there is not that type of biking, I'd prefer to leave the extra weight at home and just do alot of hiking.

Any suggestions and thoughts greatly appreciated. Twink???

Jonathan
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Old 06-02-2006, 10:47 AM   #2
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this probably won't be a helpful, but i hadda chime in...

you lucky dog. this is one of the coolest state parks in the midwest, if not the country. we've been going up there for years in winter to downhill ski, cross-country ski, and snowshoe. the State of Mi does an INCREDIBLE job there, and IMO provides as good a ski experience with its little 600 feet of vertical drop as any of the big Western players.

but of course it's now summer.... the worst collection of black fly bites we've ever gotten was while climbing one of the Porkies' ski hills in July. The net hats are ESSENTIAL, especially since black flies are not very impressed by repellents. on the + side, they're relatively slow and stupid, so an alert slapping hand can be reasonably effective.

there are also more than a few black bears, so keep that food secured!

dunno if the trails are suitable for biking, but all of the cross-country ski trails are on a tiny portion of the summer trail system, and would seem to me good for biking - well graded and wide.

there are a LOT of giant old-growth hemlock trees, and or course the wild shore of the greatest lake.

you luck dog.

jon
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Old 06-02-2006, 01:05 PM   #3
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Jonathon,

Look at this MI DNR website for info on biking in MI state parks.

Also, have you seen the Exploring the North website? Kind of nice site for general info for the UP.
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Old 06-04-2006, 10:44 AM   #4
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John and Jon.

thanks for that. Still have not decided about bikes. I'll hope for a strong breeze to help with bug-gers.

Jonathan
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Old 06-04-2006, 07:00 PM   #5
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We didn't run across biking trails there. You could ride around the campgrounds. I would opt for hiking. Although if you could pedal fast enough you might shake a few of those pesky bugs! We went to town to buy head nets and we WORE them! The black flies don't last long but when they are there they are out in full number.

We went to Porcupine and stayed at Union last fall again. It is one of our favorite places. We like to set our chairs up on the rocks that jut out of the water. Definitely drive to Presque Isle and do the hike, the waterfalls are beautiful and you can check the campgrounds there out then. If I remember correctly it is about 30 miles (?) from Union to there one way.

We always try to hit Taquamenon Falls close to Newberry, on either the way up or back. Try Rivers Bend campground, off from the falls campground but very quiet and a short drive from the museum with the Edmund Fritzgerald wreck and bell at Whitefish Point. You literally go through "Paradise" ...really to get there.
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Old 06-05-2006, 10:20 AM   #6
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Carol.

Thanks for that info. We are getting excited.

Does anyone know how bad the hills are getting to and from Union campground.

I've been towing with the Eurovan and so far it seems up to the towing task. As a reference, we towed our 19' to Mammoth Cave from Chicago. Pretty hilly there but the Euro handled great, even with full gray and black tanks because the MC Campground dump station was out of commision on the day we left. We had to go to a KOA about 10 miles and then up a steep drive, and pay $17.00 to use their dump....

Thanks.

Jonathan
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Old 06-06-2006, 08:18 AM   #7
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>Does anyone know how bad the hills are getting to and from Union campground.

There aren't any. Seriously, as I remember the ride, it's extremely flat from Chi to l the vicinity of Ironwood, perhaps a little hilly around Ironwood but well-graded on US2, and pretty flat again on 64 to Silver City. From there it's a couple of miles along the lakeshore to the campground.

My memory for these things might be pretty bad, but I'm sure I'd remember any big hills vividly, since the roads have often been covered with snow and ice when we've ventured to the Porkies.

The big hills are the Porkies themselves, which lie to the west of the main route from Ironwood to Union Bay..

Hope this helps,
jon
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Old 06-06-2006, 08:44 AM   #8
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Yeah, if you can get to Mammoth Cave with your rig you can handle any "Hills" in Michigan!
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Old 06-21-2006, 10:25 PM   #9
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So how was this UP adventure? Did you make it to Tahquamenon Falls? What else? Campgrounds to recommend /slash/ need for reservations?
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:36 AM   #10
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Porcupine Mt. REPORT...long

We're back!

What a road trip. We started out at 6:30AM and drove the tens hours straight to PMSP. We did stop a few times to tend to my shrinking bladder and my wife's addiction to cafinated soda. We thought that we'd be stopping a few hours before hitting the park, but the caffein and conversation kept me going.

The Euro(van) towed the AS wonderfully. Even when large rigs passed, barely noticed. Interestingly though, an occasional smaller SUV something or other would pass, and we would feel that a bit. No sweat though. Kept speed at 60-62mph and the shifter in 3.

The scenery getting to the park was gorgeous. I found myself driving at speeds of about 40mph to take it all in, but realized it would takes us forever to get there if I did not step on it a bit.

As we approached the park entrance, we saw our first bear (for about two seconds) bounding across the road. My first reaction was that the thing was fake, being so close to the park entrance. It just seemed like a coincidense. I then thought that maybe it was a robotic set up to get tourists like myself in a tizzie, which it did. Or maybe some guy in a bear suit that gets paid in Jack Daniels to greet folks as they get to the Porkies. I want that job very much.

A few miles down the road to Union Bay campground.

After I got locked in the bathroom at the registration place, we found the lakefront sites were all occupied/reserved for the lenght of time we were staying. But that turned out to be fine, since all those sites were pretty close together anyway. There were two more "rows" of sites, and we chose the back row closest to the woods. All the sites had 30amp electric.

As far as the campground itself goes, I thought that it was typical State Park. Very few trees/privacy, trimmed lawn, which they did EVERYDAY. I've also noticed that Michigan loves to use drainage ditch type tubing to make their fire rings out of. These things are really unattractive, and some are so deep, you feel that you might fall in one. We chose the back row because very few people were there and at least semi-private. The campground was clean, and the shower house/bathroom were even clean enough for me not to have to build a gigantic nest of toilet paper prior to pooping. This also enabled us to get a week out of the AS toilet without having to run to the dump.

The weather for the first seven days was nothing short of perfect. Clear to billowy clouds in sky, nice breeze, mid 60's day, 40's at night, and even had to run the furnace. Lake Superior is fine, and the red sandstone formations, gorgeous.

The sun sets at about 9:45PM at this time of year!!!

The bugs that I lost sleep over before the trip were simply not there. We were told by Randy, the campground registration guy that a week and a half earlier, the campground was cleared out by black flys.

In any event, we had brought along an entire chemical weapon cache to wage war with anything that had a thorax or wings.

We did not bring our bikes, which was a good thing, because the trails that we saw for biking were meant for anyone under 30 years old, and with out a perscription for Fosamax.

We did tons of hiking, and I have to say that it was some of the best we've done. Had to use a little OFF, but that's it. Many of the hikes we had gone on go by creeks and river like areas. Very delightful.

On our last two days, since the weather was great, we decided to go over and camp at Presque Isle, a primitive campground 30 miles west of Union Bay: no electric, hand-pumped water, fire ring (the good old fashioned rusted-ring kind). Before leaving Union, we put 10 gallons of water in the tank. We also saw another AS (28' CCD) arriving, and a fellow AS Forum member.

At this point in our trip, we figured out where all the black flys and bugs: site 10, Presque Isle. Ours!

This was the first time we had to set up the screen tent. Flys love Airstreams, propane tank covers, and tires. I can't explain why, but none were on the van, but the Airstream looked like the Richard Avedon photo of the bee tamer guy.

They also loved my ankles. Long pants were needed and worn. Also, it figures, the temp rose to mid 80's and was humid the last few days. Running the fans and as few lights as possible we made it for a couple of days without the need for the Honda (generator).

Although incredibly buggy, the hiking in Presque Isle was amazing. This is where most of the waterfall action is. We even brought a couple of chairs to an accesable part of the running creek/river, put them right in the water, read, and let the water chill my caniblized ankles.

On this trip, was saw tons of wildlife, fish, toads, frogs, chipmonks, squirels, a martin (some sort of animal that looks like our fattest black cat), deer, birds, giant moths, everything. We even saw three cubs and adult bear together roadside on our way to check out Ontanogon(sp).

The drive back toward Chicago, we stopped over night at a private campground called Dakota Campground. Just north of Madison along 39/94. Full hook-ups. Nice. Very old place, with a screwy, undefined camp area. Before leaving, dumped black tank, then dumped gray, when all of a sudden, there was a geyser of gray!!!! I close the valve rather quickly. Went to another site, open that drain plug, and another geyser!!!! I had just showered, and now I was covered with my own (and my wifes) by-product. Can you say pissed!!!! Finished emptying gray on the ground, which I know is bad. Nothing worse than having new clean clothes on, but still smelling like doodie!!!!

A total of nine and a half days, great trip. Would do it again in a second, and hoping that we will again. The Euro, AS, and us traveled 1200 miles total, without incident, other than the few glitches mentioned above. Total cost we figured to be around 700-800 dollars including fees, gas, etc. Not bad....it might have cost us more to just stay home!

Thanks to all who helped with information about this area.

I'll try and post a few pictures sometime soon.

Jonathan
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Old 06-22-2006, 03:47 PM   #11
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Great report, Crazy. From what I understand, you did not make reservations, right? I'm thinking Page and I might go up that way on our way to AK in about 3 - 4 weeks. Then take Route 2 west as far as we can stand it.

Thanks for the report - and any additional suggestions you have will be appreciated.

Pat
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Old 06-22-2006, 05:09 PM   #12
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Hi Pat.

No, we did not make reservations. From what we learned, the season does not really get going into full gear until sometime after the first part of July. Apparently, this is when the most severe bug (fly) invasions subside. We figured that going in mid-Bug-tober we would not have a problem finding a site.

Personally, I liked the back sites anyway, about 500 yards from the water, with no one behind you.

You can pick up any downed tree/limbs for fire. We have one of those really sharp hand saws, and boy did we hunt and gather wood.

Pants. We bought those mosquito hat/net things but never used them. I suppose for 10 bucks each, having them guarenteed that we wouldn't use them.

Also, if you don't have one, pick up a 30amp extension cord for the electric. The outlet boxes are located in sort of a paculiar fashion at this park. There were some electrical boxes that looked like you'd need an additional 100' they were so far from the site. We have either a 25' or 50', I can't remember, but I got it at Campingworld. Worth having.

And you will need leveling blocks for sure in some of the sites.

The road going to the campground was under construction and there was some wash-boarding, but maybe they will have it paved before to long. So drive slow along there. Interestingly, along this road are a few "picnic" areas that looked like they used to be, or could be the most fantastic little campsites right on the waters edge....

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

Jonathan
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:58 PM   #13
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We camped at the Union Bay campground in Porcupine Mtns on June 7. There were lots of empty sites. We made reservations on the phone while sitting on the beach at Bay City SRA and the person gave us probably the site I would have chosen myself had we just shown up there (or been smart enough to do it online where they have campground maps). It is site 25 right on the lake. across the road is not another site but a patch of woods so it made it semi private. The arc pull through was dead level. Sunset on the lake was spectacular. Mosquitos and flies were not a problem the day we were there.

Showers and restrooms were clean and well maintained. No sense in putting a load on your own facilities.

We drove over to Presque Isle but did not camp there. One of the most spectacular views is not the falls but the walk across the foot bridge onto the island and into a surreal forest especially in the morning as the rising sun is poking through the trees.

One warning. If you drive a diesel, fill up ahead of time. There is no diesel near the park in the town of Silver City. We had to drive another 13 miles back to Ontanagon.

The day before we camped in Tahquamenon Falls and indeed we drove through Paradise on the way up, the setting for Steve Hamilton's mystery novels. Tahquamenon Falls has its own brew pub. That was nice for a guy who can't pass up brew pubs and breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches. On the way to Porcupine we had breakfast in Newberry at the Isle Cafe. The whole place (interestingly it is not a bar) was decorated with Caribbean decor. Must be their way of coping with winter.
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Old 06-22-2006, 09:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazylev
The drive back toward Chicago, we stopped over night at a private campground called Dakota Campground. Just north of Madison along 39/94. Full hook-ups. Nice. Very old place, with a screwy, undefined camp area. Before leaving, dumped black tank, then dumped gray, when all of a sudden, there was a geyser of gray!!!! I close the valve rather quickly. Went to another site, open that drain plug, and another geyser!!!!
So was the problem with their dump station being full to the top? Or just bad plumbing at individual site drains? Love those tree roots...

Good tales anyway ... er, for the most part. Thanks!
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