Isle Royale National Park June 2015 – Day 5 – Three Mile to Rock Harbor

Previous: Daisy Farm to Three Mile

Trail Miles: 6.9      Total Miles: 29.2

Andrew’s alarm went off at 6 AM, and we quickly started packing up the tent and its contents.  It took us 30 minutes to go from asleep to on the trail, which seemed pretty good to me considering the fact that there was a bathroom break in there!  We had decided to skip breakfast and eat once we got to Rock Harbor, so there was very little cleanup needed.  The sun was already up and bright when we work up, and unfortunately was pretty much right in our faces as we hit the trail.  Heading east at first light is a bit difficult, but the views were amazing.


Heading out of Three Mile at first light

It took us an hour and a half to get to Rock Harbor from Three Mile backtracking over the Rock Harbor Trail.  There was no wind, so the mosquitoes were bothersome if you weren’t moving, but it was cool and crisp.


We got to Rock Harbor before 8 and had our pick of all of the shelters.  We chose the first shelter we came across which was a bit shady and set back from the trail.  As soon as we got set up, Megan, Nicole and Chelsea passed by to grab a shelter of their own.

Since we hadn’t eaten breakfast, we ate one of the treats we’d saved for a morning where we had lots of time – dehydrated hash browns.  Though I hadn’t blanched them ahead of time and they were discolored, they tasted awesome.  I would definitely do them again!  Each Andrew and I were on low battery for our Kindles, but we tried to get as much out of them as possible before they died, once and for all.  I was reading Wool, a group of scifi novels, and Andrew was reading a Master and Commander novel.

After a few hours of hanging out in our shelter, we went ahead and checked out Rock Harbor.  It’s interesting – Rock Harbor is actually a very large protected area, and Snug Harbor is where “civilization” is, but Snug Harbor gets called Rock Harbor all of the time.  We poked around a bit by the Rock Harbor Lodge, checked out the menu for the grill, and read several of the interpretative signs in the area.  There was not one but three companies of the CCC on the island, which I found pretty interesting.

We decided we wanted to check out Scoville Point via the Stoll trail, so after a lunch of remaining snacks and pita, we headed out, unencumbered by our packs.  We passed by the trio’s shelter on our way out and invited them to dinner – we’d decided that fresh food and a real, honest to goodness inside four sealed walls dinner was worth whatever premium we had to pay!


Day 1 – Red      Day 2 – Blue      Day 3 – Purple      Day 4 – Orange        Day 5 – Green

The Stoll trail has interpretative signs for about the first mile and then returns to the wilderness to get out to Scoville Point.  The weather was great and the water was incredibly clear.  My favorite interpretative sign’s title was “Isle Royale: Just Tilted Rocks,” and you could definitely see the tilted rocks in both the trail and the waters below us.


As you walk further and further out, the barrier islands that had been our constant companions to the south started to get scrubbier, rockier, and lower before disappearing all together.  It really feels like you’re walking towards the end of the world on the Stoll Trail.  Scoville Point is a ledge about 30 feet above the surface of the water and is really beautiful.  Several hundred yards from the edge of the point, there is a plaque dedicated to Albert Stoll, who helped make Isle Royale what it is today.


Scoville Point was a great place to stop and hang out for a bit, which is exactly what we did.


There was another couple who was just leaving the point, so we had it all to ourselves for the half an hour we spent there.  Andrew went to explore the point, but I hate heights and decided to let him go for it.  However, it’s actually a really easily accessible “staircase” down to the surface of the lake, so he called me over to take a look too.


The water was so clear, as it had been the whole trip.  Sticking my GoPro in the water didn’t do it justice!


If the water was warm and there were minimal waves, this would be a great place to swim.  But, Lake Superior is almost never both calm and warm, so I wouldn’t count on it.  The rocks above the water were somewhat sharp and ragged, with underwater the same, so I would recommend being very careful if you wanted to hop in.


To the north of Scoville Point there is a small bay that houses Dassler Sleeping Cabin, a cottage that was built in 1905 and now houses artists in residence.  Right now there is a push to preserve some of the non-nature cultural artifacts on the island from the 1800s through the 1940s, and this is one of the better preserved buildings on the island.  I thought it was interesting and would love to be able to check out some of the buildings in the future.

At this point, we’d walked the entirety of Rock Harbor, from Moskey Basin all the way to Scoville Point.  Reaching Scoville Point wasn’t difficult, but hiking end-to-end of a rather rocky trail seemed like a pretty good accomplishment.


We returned to Rock Harbor via the other side of the Stoll Trail, which follows the Tobin Harbor side of the point.  We passed by the Smithwick Mine from the 1840s.  These mines were pit mines that have since filled with standing water, so we read the signs before hurrying away from the mosquitoes.  We returned to Rock Harbor just as the Queen IV was leaving and the Ranger III was arriving.  Lots of people (and let’s face it, lots of older people) were getting off of the boat to go to the Rock Harbor Lodge, but we saw fewer backpackers than I expected coming off of the boat.

We bought some shower tokens at the store in Rock Harbor for $6 each and got ready to get clean!  I’m not sure who was working at the store, but I had actually dropped my shower token and couldn’t find it and she was so kind that she just gave me another one for free, even though I was more than happy to cough up the $6 for my stupidity.  The Dockside Store at Rock Harbor is actually fairly well outfitted for being so remote.  There’s food (including some Backpacker’s Pantry), some games, books, fuel, and beer available.  It would be a good place to grab something at the beginning of your trip if you had an “oh crap” moment where you realized you only brought one pair of socks for your entire trip.  It’s pretty reasonably priced too for being so remote.  Andrew thought about grabbing a beer in the early afternoon, but they only sold tall boys in six packs, and even though it was reasonable for craft beer ($9 for a six pack), we decided we didn’t want to drink that much beer in an afternoon.

Poor Andrew couldn’t get the hot water turned on in his shower stall, but I had a blissfully steam 5 minute shower where I double washed my hair and scrubbed my body with Wilderness Wash.  I actually wound up saving a shirt for this last day, which probably wasn’t great pack weight wise but felt like heaven to be at least somewhat laundered.  I brought some lululemon pants that I had only warn at night, so I had pretty much a full clean outfit.  I felt a little exposed walking around Rock Harbor in tight yoga pants and an athletic top, so I did wind up wearing my down coat most of the day, but it was not an issue at all.  Hikers were either gross and sweaty still or rocking an interesting combination of clean clothes and muddy ones, so I wasn’t out of place at all.

We headed to dinner at the Greenstone Grill at 6 with the trio.  They were in the middle of their dinner rush – not surprising given their limited hours.  The Grill was open most of the day, but the restaurant next to it (which shares a kitchen) is open in two hour bursts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7 to 8:30 AM, 12 to 1:30 PM, and 5:30 to 7:30 PM.  We grabbed some seats at the bar and ate a filling dinner (I had a brat; Andrew a burger) and had a draft beer each.  Totally worth $35!  The trio was going on a sunset cruise and planned to wake up at 4:30 the next morning to see the sun rise on part of the Stoll trail.  Too early for me!  Once again, if you know these ladies, please get them in touch with us – I should have asked for a last name/some contact info so we could keep in touch!  Andrew and I were pretty beat from our day hike, so we said goodbye, read for a bit, and went to sleep for our last night on the island.

Continue to Day 6 and Wrap Up

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