For 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!
On 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.
Trailhead is easily missed.
Trail through the Northwoods.
The 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.
Approaching the small Alligator Eye overlook
View from the Alligator Eye overlook
Alligator Eye overlook sign
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.
View of the Alligator and its Eye from east side of Lake Gogebic - Which is the Eye?
Well, 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.