Friday, July 1, 2016

Isle Royale: Rock Harbor to Three Mile Camp via Tobin Harbor

Rock Harbor to Three Mile Camp via Tobin Harbor Trail
Isle Royale National Park
Rock Harbor Elevation: 613 ft.
Three Mile Camp Elevation: 612 ft.
Distance: 3.83 mi. (my FR230)
Elevation Gain: 450 ft. (my FR230)
Start Time: 2:41pm
End Time: 4:52pm

Isle Royale 4-Part Series
1. Fri, Jul. 1, Stoll Trail + Scoville Point
2. Fri, Jul. 1, Rock Harbor to Three Mile Camp via Tobin Harbor
3. Sat, Jul. 2, Three Mile Camp to Daisy Farm Camp via the Greenstone Ridge
4. Sun, Jul. 3, Daisy Farm Camp to Rock Harbor

Trip Report:
After bidding fairwell to Sarah and my mother on their return trip on the Queen Royale IV, we set out for our journey to the night's camp at Three Mile camp. Our original thought was to simply take the Rock Harbor trail as that seemed the most straightforward. My Dad got talking to a nice gentleman there in the harbor who was evidently a local expert, and he recommended the Tobin Harbor trail. The distance is a bit longer, but he said it was a much easier trail. The Rock Harbor trail has a few more small ups and downs and is somewhat slower travel, or so we were told.

We set out on the Tobin Harbor side which wasn't at all hard to find from the Rock Harbor docks. It was beset with thick brush on both sides. We only found the occasional openings in the thick trees and vegetation to get views into Tobin Harbor. We would find on our hike out that the Rock Harbor side does offer more in views.

Luke and Dad quickly proved themselves to be the quicker hikers while I spent time at the end of the group playing sweep. Seth and Jonah were a little slower now as we put more miles in. This hike was Jonah's first carrying a big pack. We recently got him an Osprey Ace 50 which already proved to be an excellent pack. We found the bugs to be pretty bad on the Tobin Harbor side. They seemed to get worse as we went on and were worst when the Tobin Harbor trail ended and we moved onto the Mt. Franklin trail.

We had a snack stop at the junction for the Suzy's Cave trail which was well signed. We dropped packs so the boys could get some food out. Even here the bugs made us not wish to stay long. After the snack break Luke and Dad seemed to continually get further ahead of us other three. As we did near the Mt. Franklin junction without saying so, we mutually agreed to have them hike ahead to Three Mile camp. We had some concern that with the Ranger III from Houghton also arriving today that more and more people would also be heading that way.

With the bugs being so bad I really struggled to keep my youngest motivated but we finally found ourselves getting close to Three Mile camp. As we neared the Franklin trail junction with the Rock Harbor trail junction Luke had come back to the junction to meet us. We found that the Three Mile camp is about 2/10s of a mile east of that junction. They had found us a spot in shelter 5 which was a nice spot and not far from the lake front. We immediately headed into the shelter to get away from the bugs. I set up my portable camp chair and just sat for awhile enjoying the ability to not have to be swatting at flying insects.

For our supper at the camp we brought MREs along which have become a favorite of our boys because of the amount and variety of foods. The boys also enjoyed some fishing in the evening, though with little success. We did however enjoy sitting on the dock at Three Mile due to the lack of mosquitos out there. That was one thing that got me out of the shelter. We closed out the evening playing a fun game of National Parks Trivial Pursuit which we had picked up in the Isle Royale Visitor's Center.


I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).

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