Duluth Harbor: Mile 0
The Lake Superior Water Trail begins at the mouth of the St. Louis River in the Duluth Harbor between the cities of Duluth and Superior. There are 10 landings and two campsites in this area. The harbor is a good kayaking alternative should the lake be kicking up. The Superior Municipal forest is the largest city forest in the nation and famous for its fjords.
You can enter the trail at the historic Duluth Lift Bridge or enter at Wisconsin Point and move along the three parks. Be cautious, the St. Louis River flows through these channels as well as large ships and boats. There are many grand homes along the Duluth coast. The three and a half-mile long Kitchi Gammi Park offers a sand and cobblestone beach as well as a rest and picnic area at Lester River.
Lakewood Station: Mile 8
Lakewood Station has parking and a rest area. You’ll find a private campground, Duluth Tent & Trailer Campground, on Hwy 61 with difficult access from the lake. McQuade Safe Harbor will someday be the site of a safe harbor and boat access.
French River: Mile 12
A popular fishing spot with a fish hatchery. Stony
Point is at mile 16 where people come to surf.
Knife River Beach & Marina: Miles 18 & 19
A state owned marina with nice beach and rest area. There is no rest stop for another six miles.
Two Harbors Agate Bay: Mile 25
It offers a breakwater, toilets and a historic lighthouse and museum to tour. You can also walk into town for lunch. The municipal campground at Burlington Bay is also the site of the Two Harbors Kayak Festival in early August. The first rest stops after Two Harbors come at the Superior Shores Lodge and the Flood Bay State Wayside.
Silver Creek Cliff: Mile 30
There is an emergency landing at the Silver Creek Cliff Resort near the 850-foot highway tunnel. An original one-mile section of the North Shore Drive has been restored for the Gitchi Gami Trail at the top of the cliff giving a great view of the Lake.
The next rest stop is a mile ahead at the Halcyon Harbor Cabins. There isn’t another public rest stop for five miles as you move past the Encampment River, Encampment Island and the cliffs at Lafayette Bluff. The next rest stop comes at the Grand Superior Lodge at Castle Danger.
Gooseberry Falls State Park: Mile 38
This may be the most popular five miles along the trail. Gooseberry has kayak camping, falls, hiking trails and a visitor’s center to explore.
Thompson Beach has four beautiful kayak campsites. Twin Points provides access and parking. Split Rock Lighthouse and the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park have an interpretive center, historic lighthouse and great hiking along the Split Rock River.
There are two kayak campsites at Crazy Bay near Split Rock, one on the west side for kayakers only and the eastside is shared with backpackers. There is a fire ring, pit toilets and reservations are recommended.
Bordering Split Rock on the north is Gold Rock Point the site of the 1905 wreck of the Madeira which lies scattered on the bottom in 10 to 100 feet of water with portions visable in calm water.
Another mile to the north is the Nadine Blacklock Lakeshore campsite with is an artists cabin. The next rest stop is at Cove Point a nice place to stop for lunch or a trek on the Superior Hiking Trail. There is a rest area in a bay north of Beaver Bay. This little town is a nice place to stop for lunch or rent a bike and ride the Gitchi Gami Trail.
Silver Bay: Mile 53
The Silver Bay Marina is becoming a major motorboat stop. You will also get a look at the taconite works at the Northshore Mining Company. Just around there is an easy access and primative campsite that is easier to use then the access at Tettegouche. If you enjoy water fun, you may want to stay at the Silver Bay AmericInn and its water slide. You can watch rock climbers scale the 300-foot cliffs at Palisade Head, explore a sea cave and camp nearby.
Tettegouche State Park has a spectacular shore and nice campsites and great hiking yet requires a portage to some sites. Crystal Bay has some beautiful cliffs and the largest sea cave on the shore.
George H. Crosby-Manitou State Park:
Mile 66 There isn’t a rest stop between milepost 60 to 70. On the way you could stop at the Stone Hearth Inn or Fenstad’s Resport should you have trouble. The Manitou Waterfalls and sea arch near George H. Crosby-Manitou State Park is privately owned yet can be appreciated from the water.
Sugarloaf Interpretive Center and the Sugarloaf Point SNA in Sugarloaf Cove at milepost 70 offers self-guided tours and monthly naturalist programs at the rest stop. If the beach isn’t washed out at Last Creek, you’ll find a nice campsite on a hill, and a little waterfall.
Taconite Harbor: Mile 75
Be cautious of the large ships coming into this harbor. In 1846, Father Baraga, an Indian
Missionary, erected a wooden cross to commemorate his safe crossing of Lake Superior by canoe. A granite monument now commemorates this crossing. There is camping at Lamb’s Resort and an access at Shroeder Public Access.
The Temperance River State Park at milepost 77 has an access, camping, canyons, waterfalls and a locally popular swimming hole in the national forest.
Tofte: Mile 80
The Tofte Town Park has an access and a rest stop as well as a fishing museum and good places to stay, shop and eat. You will also find cliffs and small caves at Leveaux Creek and a rest stop near cliffs and caves at the Onion River.
Lutsen Kayak Camp: Mile 87
The Lutsen Resort has set aside a special campsite for kayakers next to their resort. They also offer kayaking classes and guided trips. There is also a rest stop and access at Lutsen’s Grandview Park.
Cascade River State Park: Mile 92
The Cascade River State Park has ten miles of rough shoreline with campgrounds and a walk-in campsite at mile 92. It’s easiest to put in at the mouth of the river. There is a kayak campsite and waterfall at Fall River at mile 104.
Grand Marais: Mile 107
Grand Marais has one of the nicest harbors on the North Shore, a large public campground, many places to shop, eat and sleep. While it is a popular place for people heading for the BWCA, it is regaining its connection with the lake. The shoreline gets lower for easier access with lots of rest stops. The Devil Track River is worth exploring.
Kadunce River Wayside Rest: Mile 116
The Kadunce River is narrow with several waterfalls with access to the Superior Hiking Trail, which comes down to the lake at Mule Kicker Beach and Ashford Point. There are three kayak campsites along this stretch. Paradise Beach is a wide sweeping beach with a campsite. You can also camp at the Judge C. R. Magney State Park or eat and sleep at the historic and colorful Nanaboujou Lodge. A hike up the Devil’s Kettle is a must.
Grand Portage Reservation: Mile 131
There are two kayak campsites before you paddle along the Grand Portage Reservation where there aren’t any stops for nine miles. At mile 141 you’ll find the Grand Portage Marina, Lodge and Casino as well as the Grand Portage National Monument and museum. This is where the Indian Traders and Voyageurs would portage their goods the nine miles into the boundary waters.
You’ll find a campground at the Voyageur Marina across Grand Portage Bay. More experienced kayakers will explore the Susie Islands, but the only stops come at the emergency landing at Pigeon Point and the 150 milepost.