Flooded North Country Trail trailhead near McCormick Wilderness.

Oh, my – the McCormick Wilderness! So last night I did laundry in Ishpeming, got groceries and camped out at the McCormick Wilderness trailhead. It got down to about 25 F. (-3.9 C.) at night, but luckily I had my car with me. So I put a blanket down under my sleeping pad and another blanket over my sleeping quilt and I was toasty warm. At one point in the night, I heard what appeared to be bikers biking up, then talking for 10 minutes or so. Interesting. I’d hate to have been biking in that cold!

Due to the chill and frost, it took me a while to get going this morning. But I headed down the road shortly before 9 a.m., only to find the western trailhead flooded with deep water, thanks, once again, to a beaver dam. Four other hikers drove up as I was contemplating the situation; they were going to be hiking in the opposite direction as me (from Craig Lake to McCormick) and were there to drop a car.

Luckily, I was able to walk just 20 yards (18.3 meters) or so along the road to find a dry spot, then bushwhacked my way into the woods. The terrain went steeply uphill and had little underbrush, so it was easy to hike back towards the trail and hop on above the flooded zone.

Leaving McCormick Wilderness BehindVery tilted wooden footbridge on the North Country Trail.

The first few hours were pretty great. The trail – which officially left the McCormick Wilderness just .6 miles (1 km) into my day’s hike – wound around a pretty stretch of woods studded with rocks. But you had to be mindful, because it was easy to get off track. The hummocky terrain made everything (and nothing) look like the trail. After

There were a few unpleasant stretches with tall, wet grass and mud, but nothing too bad. Sometime around noon I entered Craig Lake State Park. At first, the path was very wide and flat. It was like walking in a monotonous green tunnel. Pleasant and easy, but nothing noteworthy.

Then I hit the bridge I’ve seen on many Facebook pages. It’s technically closed, as it’s listing terribly to one side. But since it’s secured by a thick cable, you can hold onto the cable and safely cross, which is what I did. 

Deep blue river flowing through golden vegetation.
Meeting the Gang

Shortly after crossing the bridge, I ran into the four people from the day’s start. They’re from Oshkosh, Wis., and have been hiking together for 20 years. Wow. After that, the trail changed completely. It  became much hillier and wound all around. I didn’t see too many of the lakes, and got just one glimpse of Craig Lake. 

This area featured a lot of rocks and boulders, much like the day’s start. Eventually, the trail pushed me out onto a gravel road, which I followed several miles to the highway. I’d hiked much of this back in July (twice, in fact). 

Day Is Done

Sara from Three Lakes Motel was kind enough to pick me up at Nestoria Road and shuttle me back to my car at McCormick. The number of miles wasn’t large, but there is construction on the main highway that slows you down quite a bit, plus the road up to McCormick is all buckled and you have to drive slowly. So that was very kind of her.

Tonight, I pulled everything from my car into my motel room to rearrange. After just one week, everything was all over! In fact, I can’t find my spoon or spork. That’s not good! I also got a take-out fish fry from the Snowshoe Inn next door (how could I not, given the name?!). And I enjoyed a wonderful, hot shower.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish up the U.P. and descend into the L.P. Yahoo!


MI NCT miles today: 17.7 (28.5 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 515.1 (829 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,282.5 (2,064 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,317.5 (5,339 km)


©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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