OverviewFor those of us Midwestern Americans, starving for summits, it usually takes a plane trip to get to a mountain. A few places lie within a long days’ car trip, but those also are few and far between. Desperate for some wilderness, I plotted a trip to Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains, in the Upper Peninsula (’UP‘), from Chicago (8 hours by car). As always when traveling by car, I looked for hiking breaks along the way where I could rest and stretch my back. I found such places in the scant Summitpost offerings: Rib Mountain and Timms Hill in north central Wisconsin. But I was looking for something - anything - that would offer me a break between the rest of Wisconsin and The Porkies. I was mindlessly surfing through some UP travel websites when on a map of the UP, an odd middle of nowhere flag showed up - right on my route.
What? The heck is that? I surfed further and scanned the brief description: ’Vantage Point’…’Overlook’…’Rock face’. Huh?
An unknown…dare I say it…maybe - a summit? In the Midwest? Unknown to even Summitpost?
I resolved to climb …the Alligator Eye!
Getting ThereOn M-64 about two miles south of Lake Gogebic State Park campground and about 6 miles north of U.S. 2.
This is the best map I have found of the Lake Gogebic Area.
I have never driven the roads that twist and turn through the northwoods lake country. But never the less, with the help of Maqpquest I was easily able to arrive on the road to my quarry. My pulse quickened as a long tall ridge appeared out my driver side window. I was anxiously scanning the woods for a trail head - surely the famed Alligator Eye had a sign worthy of its name. Besides, I was assured of a parking area ‘big enough for buses’.
No. Nothing. After what my map told me was too far North, I stopped at the Lake Gogebic State Park and got directions. The parking area was nothing more than a paved shoulder - the trail sign, about 3 inches square. Nevertheless, I started up the trail, into the Northwoods toward the fabled Eye.
Route DescriptionThe Eye is not apparent from the road at all. But the trail is a fine intro to what is apparent, the Northwoods - some mud, some bugs, but a very wild and living forest. But it is very short, about a half mile, I think, if that. Suddenly you come to a sign, and you turn toward a brief clearing in the woods. The porthole through the forest gives you a look at the real star of the show, Lake Gogebic. 13 miles long at least, it is a beautiful place.
Why the Name?But why is the overlook called Alligator Eye? For that, I would have to retrace my steps and go around to the east side of Lake Gogebic, does it look like an Alligators Eye to you? No, I am not sure what bump is the eye.
Summing UpWell, is this a summit? No. The Porcupine Mountains have summits worthy of the name - this is a barely a route - a 20 minute diversion.
It was fun to find, fun to look around a beautiful area. A route?
I am calling it a route, as I think some of my Midwestern brothers and sisters in arms will appreciate a place to stop, and refresh them selves on the way to wilder, higher places.