Isle Royale - Canoe or Kayak?

I am planning a paddling trip to Isle Royale around Labor Day. I would like to know the pros and cons of canoeing and kayaking this area. I have gear and experience for both but havn’t decided which way to go. My intension is to do a lot of photography. Thanks for any suggestions.

Interior or exterior?
Seems to me that you need to decide if your going to portage thru the interior lakes or paddle the coastline. Either trip would be great.

I’ve canoed some of the interior and wouldn’t even consider a kayak - too many portages, some up to about 2 miles. A lightwieght canoe would be the ideal craft, not the 80lb Grummond I carried around. The fishing is spectacular on the inland lakes in late May.

If I were doing the coastline (still on the top of my to do list) I would take a sea kayak. Less windage, better in rough seas.

Either way you’ll have a great trip. Be sure to do as much hiking as you can in between paddling.

Kayak for the Lake
I paddled the Five Fingers region last year the week after Labor Day, and would not have felt comfortable paddling a canoe in the wind and waves. I met 2 guys paddling an open canoe and they told me a few times they were nervous when they were shipping water. I did run into a couple on the Duncan Bay portage in a Kevlar canoe who said they don’t paddle if it gets real choppy, but for the most part do ok.

Are you paddling solo or tandem, and if tandem is your partner experienced?

Where are you planning on going?

I wil be back up there the week after Labor Day to paddle the Five Fingers again. Saw 2 wolves feeding on a moose carcass down the shore from Belle Isle CG!!!

Paddle partner

– Last Updated: Jan-14-05 7:31 PM EST –

I will be going with at least one other person. If we kayak it will be in solo sea kayaks. Mine is a 17 ft. Necky Tesla composit which handles the open water great and holds a lot of gear. If we canoe it would be tandem in an Old Town Penobscot 16.5 ft. I guess I am leaning twords the kayaks because of the open water and the ability to go further in the 5 or 6 days we will have to paddle and we can see the interior via hiking. How was the weather for you this time of year? I know it can be a little volitile but my experiences for this time of year have been great as far as weather, lack of people and lack of bugs. Plus I am hopeing there might be a little more moose activity.


– Last Updated: Jan-15-05 10:13 PM EST –

I would definitely go with the kayaks (personal bias).
The weather with the exception of the one day we were windbound (NE winds 25 with gusts to 40) created rough seas, 8'-10' waves on the open lake.
Needless to say, we didn't paddle that day.
The rest of the time the winds were moderate, they made for pleasant paddling.
After the weekend holiday crowds left, we were on Belle Isle with one other couple. We ran into another couple on the Duncan Bay portage who were paddling a canoe, by the way.
We had no problems going around Blake Point the first day. When we came back around, it was choppy with 4' swells. We stayed fairly far off shore 1/3-1/2 mile offshore and did not have any problems. I was impressed with the current as we approached Blake Point from Duncan Narrows. We paddled into the current, it held us on an angle going into it.
We did a bit of hiking on Belle Isle, which was fun, mostly bushwacking as there aren't many trails.
We did see 2 wolves feeding on a moose carcass down the way from the dock at Belle Isle. We were in our kayaks and watched them feed on the shore. An off duty Ranger was there and he was filming the wolves (I saw his footage which was great). While we talking, he was on shore on a bluff filming, a wolf popped up behind him, which we both could see. We did not see any moose (the first time in a long time I did not see any moose, but many others did including a friend who was with us hikling Tobin Harbor) .
We are planning to go to Mc Cargoe and hike over to Sargent lake to fish and Eva Lake in Pickerel Cove to fish. Should be fun.
Make sure you have a good Weather Radio, preferably a portable Marine VHF if you are paddling the open waters in case of trouble. The Park service monitors channel 16 including the Park Service boats and the weather channel reception is generally better.

Reference book for paddling Isle Royale
The book Isle Royale National Park Foot trails and Water Routes by Jem DuFRESNE would be a worthwhile purchase. There are inland water routes good for canoeing, fishing, and camping. The book gives a nice canoe route. I do not kayak, but the book covers kayak routes.

Hey JH!
I meet the STRANGEST people here…eh eh eh…you always have such good advice to share…glad to see you post here!

I don’t remember if we disscussed IR, but if you haven’t been, you need to go!!!