Hiking to Suzy's Cave at Isle Royale National Park

Published: July 21st 2018
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Today is our first full day at Isle Royale. We decided to pick up where we left off yesterday and hiked to Suzy’s Cave. It’s 1.8 miles to Suzy’s Cave, and the trail is a loop. We could walk the 3.6 miles and see something new the whole way. We started by going counter-clockwise, and this part of the hike was more forested and followed the shore on the northern part of the peninsula. There were only a few patches of mud and a few inclines. It was a moderately easy hike. We arrived at Suzy’s Cave, and it was unique compared to its surroundings. The cave had an entrance on both sides. The side closest to us was harder to access. On the opposite side, we just strolled right in. Raspberry and thimbleberry bushes surrounded the outside of the cave, and it struck me as a perfect place for a bear. That said, there are no bears on Isle Royale (as far as I know).

We were warned that the other part of the trail loop was more difficult. Other hikers told us it was muddy and had a lot of loose rock. We wanted to see something new, so we decided to still go, but we proceeded with caution. I’m really glad we did. There were parts of the trail that went up on a rocky incline and gave us incredible views of the lake below us. There were a few parts with loose rock, but it was nothing terrible as long as you are fairly sure-footed. The mud was bad in parts, but most of the parts with the worst mud had boards to walk across. We tried to follow the Isle Royale rule about not making trails larger by walking around the mud. However, there were parts where other people had already trampled around the mud. In those spots, we followed where they had walked. This part of the trail also had more sunshine (since it runs on the south side of the island). We saw so many prairie flowers and wildflowers. There were wild aster, purple clover, raspberries, wild strawberries, thimbleberries, wild rose, wild lilies, and many other flowers I couldn’t name.

The kids were troopers throughout the hike. Oliver melted my heart when he said, “I didn’t expect to like this place so much. I really like being outdoors here and hiking here.” We let him lead the way a few times when the trail leveled out. Both kids needed to pee on the hike. There are no bathrooms or outhouses along the way of course, so they had to pee in the grass. They both did so bravely.

After we got back, rested, and ate some lunch, we decided to go on another adventure. We’d received a coupon for a free half-day canoe rental. We planned on renting a canoe from the sea plane harbor and paddling about 20-30 minutes to the harbor near Hidden Lake. From there, we could hike up to Lookout Louise. A moose had been spotted in the area not long before. However, when Andrew went to check out the canoe, he was told there was a maximum of 3 people per canoe. We had to get two. We hiked to the other dock and were told that the current was strong. A few people had struggled to get back to the dock. Although nervous, I was determined. Oliver and I could do it! We took our canoe out, and as soon as we tried to turn our canoe north to go around a
Hiking along the shoreHiking along the shoreHiking along the shore

We saw ducks and loons
small island, the current pushed us into the island. I could paddle the canoe in a circle to face the correct direction again, but then we were pushed back into the island. I gave up and paddled back to shore. I made the trek back to the main docks at Rock Harbor and explained the situation. I asked if there’s any way our family could use a single canoe. He said the weight limit was 675, which we weren’t even close to. So, he let us go out in a single canoe, provided the kids sat on the bottom of it in the center. So, we hiked back again to the seaplane harbor. We all climbed into one canoe, and we set out again. This time, with Andrew’s help, we easily passed the island and were on our way. Unfortunately, both Andrew and Joanna were wiggly. Every time anyone moved, the canoe would rock. At one point, Joanna turned to look at the shore, and the canoe rocked so far to the side that I thought we were going over. I felt like a canoe failure, but I told Andrew I couldn’t handle the stress of the rocking. Oliver felt the same way and was eager to go back to shore. Still, I felt bad cutting the trip short. We paddled back. In all, we had about a 30 minute paddle out in the water. It was enough for me!

We decided to spend the rest of the late afternoon and early evening relaxing and recuperating in our room. We hadn’t spent a lot of downtime this trip, so it was nice. After showers and tick checks, we worked on puzzles and played board games (we’d brought them in case of rainy days, but there are some for sale on the island). Andrew picked up a pizza from the restaurant here and brought it back to the room. It felt a little odd playing board games with the views and sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks below us. Strange, but beautiful.

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