Lake of the Clouds and a Forest Hike

OK, here’s another post about our trip in July to  Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One day we decided to see the Lake in the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains, about a 45 minute drive from our cabin. We found parking at the trail head, and then it was a short walk to an escarpment with a view of the lake.


Lake of the Clouds is at about a 1,000 foot elevation. Light blue sky, deep blue water, and the intense forest green.


We could look down and see the Carp River, snaking its way through the woods.


Here’s a wider view.

Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) is fairly common along roadsides in the UP. A European native, it’s considered invasive in the Upper Midwest. Which makes me sad, because it’s a pretty little thing.

After we had gotten our fill of views, we decided to head to a nearby trail and take a short hike.


I wish I could remember the name of the trail we hiked that day. What I can remember is that it was quite soggy. Wooden boards were helpfully laid down to keep hikers from losing their shoes in the mud.


Sometimes I felt like I was wearing green-tinted glasses. The Porcupine Mountains have the largest remaining stand of old growth forest in the Midwest. Ferns thrive in the moist shade. For decades the Upper Peninsula was logging country, but a few farsighted souls managed to protect this area and a few others.


We saw a number of frogs. Judy couldn’t quite get a clear shot of this critter.


There was plenty of Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) growing in the understory.  I grow its cousin, Purple-Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus), in our garden. Thimbleberry is the more shade tolerant of the two, which makes sense when you look at those broad leaves.


This place was a moss-lovers paradise. Sadly I know almost nothing about moss. I’m guessing one of my readers can identify this particular species.


Though we were Lichen (get it?) our hike, we had exceeded our daily quota of mosquito bites and it was time to head back to the cabin.

I’m glad this small remnant of the North Woods remains. It is one of few places within a day’s drive of Chicago that offers a degree of solitude and a hint of the old forests that once covered vast expanses in this part of North America. Judy and I should make a point of visiting again.

30 Comments on “Lake of the Clouds and a Forest Hike”

  1. It is wonderful to see such an area of wilderness within an hour of Chicago…something I would not have expected, and as you say, it gives you a hint of the expanse of old forests from times gone by. I like the flower and the name Thimbleberry….lovely.

  2. Sounds like and looks like it was bliss until the mosquitoes took over. I have never seen the hawkweed in our area. I don’t doubt it will pop up here sometime. Like the teasel that I used to only see further north. It is now invading our ditch rows.

  3. What a peaceful (except for the mosquitoes) and beautiful hike. I hope you and Judy do return so that I can vicariously enjoy this again. Is the park open in winter? Might be interesting to see how it looks covered in white.

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