Backpack the Little Carp River Trail in the Porkies

Rate this Adventure Little Carp River Trailhead

Four waterfalls in one hike, The Little Carp River Trail is a cool segment within the Porkies featuring some awesome lakefront camping options.

The Little Carp River Trailhead is located in the center of the Porcupine Mountain State Park, about 16 miles west of the park headquarters on S. Boundary Road. At the start of the trailhead, hikers can see Overlooked Falls. About a mile in one the trail, Greenstone Falls can be seen past both the Greenstone Falls and Section 17 hiker cabins (reservable at Michigan DNR Website). Continuing on the trail, Trapper's Falls is located roughly four miles from the trailhead. 

After Trapper's Falls, there are two water crossings on the trail. There are usually downed trees along the river, however, the river is usually only knee deep by the trails. The trail is a continued mix of flat and weathered terrain, but very manageable for hikers of all levels and pets. The final waterfall, Trader's Falls, on the trail is roughly two miles ahead.

Approaching the end of the trail, the Lake Superior Trail intersects with the Little Carp River Trail at the mouth of the river. Along a 1.3 mile stretch of the LS Trail, there are 10 backcountry sites along with four cabins. Most of the backcountry sites have wind guards built around their firepits. 

Because of the trail conditions early in the season, our group had to hike back on the Little Carp River Trail to return to the trailhead. In ideal conditions, another route is Cross Trail (4.5 miles) from the northern section of Lake Superior Trail near the mouth of Big Carp River. The Cross Trail intersects with the Little Carp River trail near Greenstone Falls. 

Total Trail Lengths: 

- Little Carp River Trail: 1.0 + 6 = 7 miles

- Lake Superior Trail (backcountry sites section): 1.3 miles

- Cross Trail: 4.5 miles

Total Elevation Change:

+0 ft. (-720 ft approach, +720 ft. return)

Pack List

  • Normal Overnight Backpacking Gear
  • Backcountry Permit (Michigan DNR Website)
  • Water Crossing Footwear
  • Water Filtration
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RT Distance 15.3 Miles
Elevation Gain -720 Feet
Activities Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back


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