By Dave Simpkins
Medium to Hard
The Trail is 296 miles long from Jay Cooke State Park to Otter Lake Road
Superior Hiking Trail Association
Office and Store: 731 7th Ave, P.O. Box 4
Two Harbors, MN 55616
Resources: Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail, $15.95
Complete Set of Pocket Maps for the Trail: $5.00
Lake Country Road 301 to Castle Danger (6.3 mi.)
No Camping, No Facilities
This coniferous section of the trail heads to the Encampment River then on to a rocky ridge view of the area. Involves both low valleys and higher areas with views, but briefly crosses an ATV trail. Steep climbs start at 1.1 mi with overlooks at 2.3 and 4.3 mi. The Encampment River, at 3.6mi. has a bridge crossing and a beautiful view of the river valley.
Castle Danger to Gooseberry Falls State Park(9.1 mi.)
Four Campsites + Gooseberry Falls State Park camping, Facilities at trail's end
This segment begins with a steeper climb, then a descent to the rewarding views of the Gooseberry River. Ascents lead to both Wolf Rock and Mike's Rock, following rocky ridges. The trail follows the Gooseberry River and then crosses the river on the Fifth Falls bridge. This section ends at the Gooseberry Falls visitor center parking lot.
Gooseberry Falls State Park to Split Rock River Wayside (6 mi.)
One Campsite on trail, Gooseberry Falls Facilities at trailhead
One of the most scenic segments of the entire trail, this part ascends to follow Bread Loaf Ridge. This allows for a spectacular view of the enormous Lake Superior, then descends into Split Rock River Valley ending at Hwy. 61. The trail comes to a junction with Split Rock River loop and follows a spur trail of a half mile.
Loop Trail: Split Rock River Loop (5 mi.)
Four Campsites, No Facilities
This is one of the more difficult areas of the trail, as there are steep ascending and descending portions, with loose rocks along the river. The trail cuts follows the Split Rock River. The western side provides views of waterfalls and rapids as the trail overlooks the river gorge. The eastern side heads towards the shore. State park trails can be used from here to reach scenic state park campground and backpacking sites along lake shore in state park. They must be reserved ahead of time by phone or at the park office.
Split Rock to Beaver Bay (11.3 mi.)
Three Campsites, No facilities.
The trail climbs steeply here, rising to the Fault Line Ridge. This is a challenging, longer part of SHT, with an increased number of sharper descending and ascending sections which pass along rock face ridges with sudden drops. The trail also passes through both a bog area and over a boulder-filled pond. The reward is at 9.4 mi. East Cove Point Spur trail goes 200 yards for an impressive view of Lake Superior.
Beaver Bay to Silver Bay (4.7 mi.)
Two Campsites, No Facilities
More views of Superior grace this part of the trail, but do not forget to pay attention to the signs, as many other trails and roads cross in this area. The trail comes to an overlook of Silver Bay, then finishes at the trailhead parking lot.
Silver Bay to Tettegouche State Park (11.1 mi.)
Five Campsites, No Facilities
This is another more difficult section of the SHT, but as always these reward with great vistas of the lake. The trail passes scenic Bean and Bear Lakes, Mount Trudee and huge maple forests. Spur trail goes to Tettegouche State Park campground. After suspension bridge on baptism River at 10 mi, trails climbs out of river valley to trailhead on Hwy 1.
Hwy 1 to County Road 6 (6.8 mi.)
Two Campsites, No Facilities
The dramatic ups and downs of the SHT continue on this trail, probably most on this section, with the addition of a number of overlook ledges. The trail passes through gorgeous maple forests. As always, make sure to be careful in wet conditions. The trail also passes Sawmill Dome before climbing down off the ridge to Co. Rd. 6.
County Road 6 to Finland Recreation Center (7.6 mi.)
Two Campsites, Outhouses at trail's end
Maples leading to moose habitats, beaver dams and rock climbing are the main attraction for this section. The segment provides 440 feet of boardwalk over a beaver pond then enters a bog area with further boardwalk. The trail ends on a spur 0.3 miles from Finland Recreation Center parking lot.
Finland Recreation Center to Crosby Manitou State Park (11.8 mi to Crosby)
Seven Campsites, Outhouses at trailhead
This time the maples shield a level and longer section of the trail. Campsites are scattered evenly, never more than 3 miles apart. The North Egge Lake campsite is right on the shore, if hikers want a beautiful morning view. The trail meanders past a boardwalk, and under a natural arch, then ends at the state park.
Crosby Manitou State Park to Caribou River Wayside (8 mi.)
Two Campsites, Outhouses at trailhead
The flat lands are over for this area, as more intense sections of the trail pick up again as the SHT heads towards the Manitou River. At 7.3 mi. watch for the bridge over the Caribou River among stately birch trees; after that a spur trail goes a short way to the waterfalls, or continue on to the trail's end.
Caribou River Wayside to County Road 1 (9 mi.)
Four Campsites, No Facilities
A smooth hike for nine miles, this section heads into the Caribou River Valley then continues through the North Shore forests. The birch forests and Alfred's Pond make a day hike worth it. Just before Dyer's Creek, the trail descends steeply from the ridgeline. After the creek, the path crosses Dryer's Lake Road and ends at the trailhead at County Road 1 parking lot.
County Road 1 to Temperance River State Park (8.0 mi.)
Five Campsites, No Facilities
After the parking lot, climb through a maple forest towards the Tower Overlook and the Cross River. Upon reaching the top of the ridge at 6.4 mi., the trail heads down towards the Temperance River and follows the river to the trailhead in the wayside parking lot.
Temperance River State Park to Britton Peak (4.8 mi.)
No Campsites, Full Facilities at State Park, Outhouse at the trailhead.
Another excellent area for a day hike, this section follows the Temperance River and then climbs steeply to Carlton Peak. There is a short scramble to Carlton Peak, then a descent afterwards. A spur at 2.6 mi. leads to a gorgeous overlook of Lake Superior. At the 4.5 mile point, the SHT crosses the Sawbill Trail, then ends at Britton Peak parking lot.
Britton Peak to Oberg Mountain (5.7 mi.)
Four Campsites, Outhouse at trailhead
This even section of the trail intermingles with a cross-country skiing path, then heads towards Leveaux Mountain. The path crosses a bridge at 1.6 mi then meanders to Leveaux Pond. Another bridge is on the Onion River, then the trail ends at Oberg Mountain parking lot.
Oberg Mountain to Lutsen (7 mi.)
Three Campsites, Outhouse at trailhead, Full facilities at Lutsen Mtn Rec Area.
This area has many sharper ascents and descents, but rewards with more views of Lake Superior. The trail leaves the parking lot and heads towards Rollins Creek. After .2 miles, the Oberg Spur Loop of 2.3 miles features nine scenic overlooks. Then the trail heads up to Moose Mountain and Mystery Mountain and then continues for another mile to the trailhead.
Lutsen to Caribou Trail (6.4 mi.)
Four Campsites, Full Facilities at Trailhead
The trail heads through birch and spruce forests then opens up to Lake Agnes. On the way, it passes the Poplar River. The trail then ascends briefly to the Poplar River valley overlooks at 4 mi. Trail comes to Lake Agnes. Spur trail continues to overlook of White Sky Rock and trailhead.
Caribou Trail to Cascade River State Park (11 mi.)
Three Campsites, Outhouse at trailhead
This is a longer section of the trail which runs along the ridgelines of the Sawtooth Mountains. The trail passes Jovick Creek at 1.6 miles. Then it crosses Spruce and Indian Camp Creeks. The trail climbs to Lookout Mountain and then descends to the Cascade River. The SHT crosses the Cascade River on a bridge and ends at the wayside parking lot.
Cascade River State Park to Bally Creek Road (9.6 mi.)
Five Campsites, Full Facilities at State Park.
The SHT allows hikers to follow either the east or the west side of the Cascade. The east trail follows bluffs for a short way, then follows the Cascade River. After leaving river, trail continues through mixed forest. The trailhead is at the Bally Creek Road parking lot.
Bally Creek Road to Grand Marais (8.3 mi.)
Two Campsites, No Facilities
This is a simpler section of the trail, a good choice for a day hike. It passes by a beaver pond and Sundling Creek, then on through a pine forest. The trail follows the North Shore State Trail through bog for 2.5 miles. After a short uphill walk, the trail ends at Pincushion Mountain parking lot.
Grand Marais to Cook County Road 58 (4.9 mi.)
Two Campsites, Outhouse at Trailhead
This section leads to the Devil Track River crossing with views of the gorge and Barrier Falls Overlook. The first part uses a cross-country ski trail then heads toward Devil Track River Bridge at 2.5 mi The A-frame bridge offers beautiful views of the canyon. There are a number of rapids and waterfalls in the area. The trail then finds its way to Barrier Falls Overlook and 1.0 mi. later ends at Co Road 58.
Cook County Road 58 to Kadunce River Wayside (9.2 mi.)
Six Campsites, No Facilities
The trail follows Woods Creek. The SHT then moves towards Durfee Creek and passes over several foot bridges on its way to Cliff Creek. The SHT then crosses Cook County Road 14 and Crow Creek. It finishes at Kadunce River with a 0.7 mi. spur trail to the parking lot on Hwy 61.
Kadunce River Wayside to Judge Magney State Park (10 mi.)
Four Campsites, Outhouse at trail end
This is the only part of the trail that follows Lake Superior's shoreline and is especially breathtaking. After crossing the Kadunce River bridge, the trail heads to Blueberry Overlook. The trail crosses Kelly's Hill Road at 2.7 mi. and meanders toward the lake. The lake walk lasts from 3.2 to 4.8 mi on the Lake Superior beach. SHT then turns inland through forest and meets with a state park trail to end at Judge Magney State Park.
Judge Magney State Park to County Road 70 (6.6 mi.)
Campground and facilities at State Park
The Brule River leads the SHT towards Devil's Kettle Falls; then it strikes out on its own towards Flute Reed River Valley. The overlook at Devil's Kettle (1 mi.) shows the unique nature of this "split falls"; then the trail heads to a rocky knob with an overlook at 3.9 mi., crosses the Flute Reed River and comes to parking lot. Day use parking is allowed here. Trail continues 1.7 miles on Co. Ro. 70 to trailhead.
County Road 70 to Arrowhead Trail (8.5 mi.)
Three Campsites, No Facilities
The SHT wanders in between ponds for most of this section, watch for wildlife. The trail goes through tree plantations, comes to Tom Lake Rd. and follows road for 1.2 miles. Trail continues through forest by numerous ponds. A campsite is marked by a large beaver-chewed Aspen at 7.4 mi. The trail continues through the forest and crosses drainage areas until it ends at the Arrowhead Trail parking lot.
Arrowhead Trail to Jackson State Park (5.1 mi.)
One Campsite, No Facilities
This is a rockier area, with signs of blow-down throughout, possibly obscuring some of the trail. The second half of the trail is made up of rocky ridgelines. The trail ends at Jackson Lake Road.
Jackson Lake Road to Otter Lake Road (8.7 mi.)
Two Campsites, Outhouse at trails end
The last section of the trail leads to its highest elevation, with overlooks of Jackson Lake. It heads through maple forests towards the Border Route Trail after reaching its highpoint on Rosebush Ridge at 1,829 ft. After the descent from the ridge, the SHT is mostly flat to Andy Lake Road and onto Otter Lake Road trailhead.