Recognized as a premier long-distance Midwest route, Greenstone Ridge Trail travels the entire length of the park's backbone from Lookout Louise to Windigo. Most visitors arrive at either Windigo or Rock Harbor, making this a natural trail choice. Hiking from Windigo means immediate steep climbs, but it also means missing the majority of hikers, particularly from early July to mid-August. In addition, the overnight locations are not as busy as those immediately spurred from The Greenstone. A suggested route is Windigo to Feldtmann Ridge, to Island Mine, the first leg of Greenstone, then onto Huginnin Cove. This would mean overnight at Feldtmann Lake, Siskiwit Bay, Island Mine and Huginnin Cove.
Beginning from Rock Harbor, most start their route at Tobin Harbor, but for the technical hiker, The Greenstone begins at the Lookout Louise Trail east of Rock Harbor reaching the western end in 4 to 5 days. Backpackers can spend the night at Rock Harbor Campground, one night limit, offering drinking water, waste containers, toilets, shelters, and group sites (limit 10). Beginning from an open ridge top, within a half a mile the trail skirts ancient Indian copper pits from 3,000 years ago. Views of Tobin Harbor are offered to the south and Duncan Bay to the northern. At approximately 1.4 miles, a canoe portage from Duncan Bay to Tobin Harbor intersects the main trail. About 0.3-mile prior to reaching Mount Franklin (named for Benjamin Franklin) spur trails are offered north to Lane Cove (campground) and south to Three-Mile Campground. The hike from Lookout Louise to Mount Franklin is 4.8 miles.
Descend Mount Franklin to reach a brief flat open area before ascending nearly 2.0 miles to Mount Ojibway where a lookout tower keeps a watchful check on air pollution stats. A trail junction with Mount Ojibway Trail offers access to Daisy Farm Campground located about 2 miles south. Continue on the main trail following the open ridgeline. Southern views afford sights of Lake Benson and Angleworm Lake. In less than 2 miles a second southbound trail is offered for Daisy Farm Campground. The Greenstone makes an attempt to descend to Angleworm Lake but just barely skirts the edge, however, determined anglers can reach the northern pike waters by bushwhacking. The trail rises and falls affording views north to Canada and the east end of Chickenbone Lake. The next trail junction is with East Chickenbone Trail that leads to McCargoe Cove. From this junction along the main trail, East Chickenbone Campground is a few hundred feet north where hikers will find individual and group sites as well as pit toilets. As the main trail forges west, Chickenbone Lake lies to the north and Lake Livermore lies to the south; both broken views. In about a mile, hikers will see the canoe portage stretching between the two bodies of water. After crossing a stream, the trail reaches a major trail junction with Indian Portage Trail. Indian Portage travels both north and south. Traveling south carries backpackers to Lake Ritchie in 3+ miles and to Chippewa Harbor campgrounds in 7.7 miles. Hiking northbound leads to McCargoe Cove, 2.9 miles. From the Indian Portage trail junction, Hatchet Lake lies 7.7 miles west and Windigo is another 25.8 miles ahead. Also, from this point, the West Chickenbone Campground is only 0.2-mile ahead offering pit toilets and individual and group sites. Chickenbone Lake affords an opportunity to catch pike, yellow perch, and perhaps a walleye. Note: fishing licenses are not required for interior lakes. The route between Mount Franklin and West Chickenbone Campground is an even 10 miles.
From the trail junction at Indian Portage and The Greenstone, head west to climb a low hill that flattens out in about half a mile. Cross the aided stream and begin the ascent to Hatchet Lake. Along the route views include McCargoe Cove, Chickenbone, Livermore, and LeSage lakes to the east and Intermediate Lake, Lake Siskiwit and Siskiwit Bay to the south. Shortly, the trail makes another sharp ascent to the trail's crest. Rock scrambling is required a bit before dropping back into the woods offering a break prior to the ascent of Mount Siskiwit. As the trail descends panoramic views unfold. The trail continues to fall and rise over the next 1.5 miles making a final climb prior to reaching Hatchet Lake Campground trail junction. A half-mile spur trail to the campground makes the trip between West Chickenbone Campground and Hatchet Lake Campground a 7.9-mile hike. Note: Hatchet Lake Trail affords access to Minong Ridge Trail. Fishing in Hatchet Lake has never been an angler's destination.
From the junction of Greenstone and Hatchet Lake Trail, the main path makes a quick ascent rewarding hikers with views of Siskitwit Lake. From this point over the next 1.5 miles, hikers receive only broken views. However, upon reaching the 1.5-mile, keep an eye out for short spurs. Several trails lead to spectacular sights of Hatchet Lake, Todd Harbor, and Lake Superior. From the main trail, a continuation of ascents and descents work their way to Ishpeming Point. A lookout tower at Ishpeming Point helps overcome the blocked views. Malone Bay Campground Trail travels south reaching individual and group sites at 7.0 miles. Heading west along Greenstone Ridge Trail, Lake Desor lies an easy 4.0 miles west at which point the South Lake Desor Campground trail lies only 0.3-mile away. Fishing Lake Desor is another site skipped over by anglers. However, backpackers find the site enjoyable due to the slight constant breeze that keeps the bugs away. From the trail junction of Hatchet Lake to Lake Desor, the distance is 8.1 miles.
Departing Lake Desor continuing westbound, the trail's undulating terrain continues. Expect to see wonderful views of Lake Desor, the Minong Ridge, and sights into Canada. Ahead rests Greenstone Ridge's most challenging ascents, Mount Desor. Similar to Ishpeming Point, views are blocked by growth but this time there is no overlook. After reaching the park's highest point, 1,394 feet, the trail makes a gradual descent to lowland aided by boardwalk. The trail does climb once again reaching the intersection with Island Mine Trail where a campground lies just 0.4-mile south and where Siskiwit Bay Campground lies 4.8 miles south. As the trail continues west onto Sugar Mountain, historians may be interested in knowing that Native Americans harvested the syrup from the site during the late 1800s. The trail leaves the park's third highest peak eventually making a sharp turn right (north) then a quick descent off the main trail to a junction with Minong Ridge Trail. Immediately west is Washington Creek Campground, a recognized site for observing moose. This campground offers 10 shelters, individual and group sites, pit toilets and drinking water. Anglers fish the creek for brook trout and pike. A quarter mile west is Windigo, where showers, laundry, groceries, permits and transportation may be found. From Lake Desor to Washington Creek Campground, the hike expands 11.3 miles. Total hiking distance from Lookout Louise to Windigo is 40 miles.
Directions: From Rock Harbor, The trail officially beings at the Lookout Louise Trail junction with Greenstone Ridge Trail. Obtain camping permit and trail map before leaving Rock Harbor. (See description for Lookout Louise Trail.)
Elevation: 1,394 feet
Elevation Gain: 325 feet
Distance: 40.0 miles
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