Expedition is not a word you here much when talking about Michigan. But if you are seeking a challenging adventure this spring, April in the Porcupine Mountains will be the month to do it. April is the prime snowshoe season in the area. Snow still covers trails and 13 backcountry cabins, which are closed from December to March each year, re-open, turning an already challenging trail system into a multi-day epic.
Trails wind through tight tree lines and cover constant elevation changes as they follow ridgelines over the Lake of the Clouds and dip into valleys carved by the Big Carp and other rivers in the park. As the temperature rises the snow can be wet, icy, and chunky adding even more difficulty to a challenging trail.
Cross-country skis, snowshoes with cleats, a pack weighed down with winter gear and sunscreen will be needed to make it to one of the sixteen hike-in cabins; the furthest three being a ten to twelve mile hike on skis and snowshoes from the trail head.
Currently many days are available for renting cabins in April. Visitors can make reservations for backcountry cabins on the Department of Natural Resources website. It is recommended that reservations be made as early as possible due the high demand for cabins in the early spring, when snow is still on the ground but cabins are re-opened, attracting more visitors to the area.
The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is an eleven-hour drive from Grand Rapids, so this trip is a good one for an extended weekend. If winter camping is not an option the park offers exceptional hiking opportunities throughout the year and makes for an especially scenic and enjoyable fall trip. In the fall the black flies are gone and the vast forest views from high ridges along the trail makes for spectacular fall colors.
To learn more about the Porcupine Mountains visit Michigan.org or visit your local library or bookstore and check out or purchase Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park: A Backcountry Guide for Hikers, Backpackers, Campers and Winter Visitors
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