Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 1: East and West Presque Isle River Trails (Porcupine Wilderness State Park)

Distance: 2.3 miles RT
Elevation: 602-802 ft
Elevation Gain: 200 ft

(Left: Detail of Manabezho Falls viewed from the East River Trail)

The Presque Isle area of the Porcupine Mountains is by far the most scenic and the most interesting. The Presque Isle River flows through an area of Nonesuch Shale, which has resulted in waterfalls, unusual rock crenelations, and in summer a wicked set of rapids. The crenelations are caused by rocks that have swirled in the rapids, carving out deep, perfectly curvaceous, holes in the rock. The water flows over these areas in a stunning manner. The shale itself is interesting to behold. Like fossilized Baklava, it is easy to see the rock’s thousands of layers. Nonesuch Shale was formed at the bottom of a lakebed 1 Billion years ago.

Shoreline of Lake Superior where Presque Isle River empties into the lake

Rocks along the Lake Superior shoreline

Crenelations in rock

Small rapids where you cross from east to west

The east/west river trail is a short and easy loop that can be taken in either direction. We chose to cross the river and head east side first. Before heading into the trees, we walked down to the lake and admired all blue water, clear skies, and interesting rocks along the shore. Little did we know that this would be the only sunny day on our entire trip.

The trail actually crosses the river along the rocks. Blue daubed of paint point the way.

A carved rock channel where the river no longer runs

There are three major falls on this short hike, Manabezho, Manido, and Newadaha. Manabezho is rather famous, appearing on coffee mugs, placements, and other tourist paraphernalia throughout the area.

Manabezho Falls from the East River Trail

Manabezho Falls from the West River Trail

The East River trail winds through the trees with oblique views of the falls. There are numerous social trails that lead to viewing spots. Some of these were very steep, slippery with mud, and crisscrossed with tree roots. The East River Trail ends at the road. You cross over a bridge, which provides an expansive view of the river itself, and then head off into the trees again. This side of the loop is called the West River Trail.

Nawadaha Falls

View of Presque Isle River from the bridge

The falls are more directly visible from the West River Trail. In several locations, the trail becomes a series of boardwalks, stairways, and viewing platforms. No root scrambling here.

Close up of the Nonesuch Shale with the river in the background

All in all the Presque Isle trail has it all, a cool forest, fascinating rock formations, picturesque waterfalls, and lots of moss (not something we see a lot in Colorado). If you journey to the Porkies, start your sojourn there.


wendy said...

Hi, I am a friend of Shelley's blog! "Northern Michigan Experience"
I saw your post and thought I would check you out. Wow, you have some really nice pictures! I will have to check it out better when I have more time. come visit my blog sometime.

Shellmo said...

I haven't visited this area yet of the U.P, but your photos certainly make me want to next year! it sounds like you enjoyed your vacation there!

Nina said...

Wow! I'm just starting to take in your stories of your UP trip. Looks like you saw some good stuff, experienced various types of weather, and took some amazing shots. I will find time to read all of it this weekend (and hopefully catch up on my blog too - I'm way behind!). Thanks for keeping in touch.