Hike the Least-Visited National Park in the Lower 48 on Isle Royale’s Greenstone Ridge Trail

Hike the Least-Visited National Park in the Lower 48 on Isle Royale’s Greenstone Ridge Trail

Hiking any national park is an adventure, but hiking Isle Royale—the Lower 48’s least-visited park, located in the middle of Lake Superior—is on another level. Want to see it for yourself? We’re sharing this story on hiking the park’s classic Greenstone Ridge Trail for free. Members can read our full-length round-up of this and 9 other perfect ridge-hiking adventures right now. Not a member? Sign up today.

  • Distance: 42 miles

  • Time: 3-5 days

  • Elevation gain: 4,320 feet

This boat-access-only weekend or weeklong point-to-point has it all: Wildlife, Great Lakes views, and solitude. And it’s understandable: Serious elevation gain, length, and the ferry ride required for access keep the crowds away. For those willing to brave the hurdles, though, Greenstone Ridge is a life-list-worthy trek.

After the seven-hour ferry ride (bring a book, or maybe a pillow), most hikers start from the east end of the island, following the rocky spine of Isle Royale through thick forests and grassy meadows. Remote, little-visited lakes dot the crest, perfect for a quick dip on a hot summer day. In late summer and fall, berries line the trail, providing snacks by the handful. On the trail’s high points you can take in panoramic views of Lake Superior and the isle itself, with sightlines stretching unimpeded to the lakeshore 50 miles away.

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