Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota

Gitchi-Gami State Trail

Destined to become one of the most scenic paved trails in the nation, the Gitchi-Gami parallels the North Shore Scenic Drive Byway, the popular Superior Hiking Trail and the Lake Superior Water Trail. Gitchi-Gami offers an active way to enjoy Minnesota’s North Shore with fantastic views of its namesake lake. Read more …

Gitchi Gami State Trail map

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Descending into Split Rock Lighthouse State Park on the Gitchi-Gami Trail

Descending into Split Rock Lighthouse State Park on the Gitchi-Gami Trail

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Along the Trail

The Gitchi-Gami State Trail will eventually trace 89 miles of the North Shore, weaving its way through five state parks from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. The longest trail section to date runs more than 17 miles from Gooseberry Falls State Park across the Split Rock River, through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and Beaver Bay, and on to Silver Bay. At Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, you ride just below a wayside rest and scenic overlook with a picture-perfect view of the lighthouse. To visit the lighthouse and interpretive center, take the short spur trail leading there. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and Beaver Bay both have trail centers with parking. The half -mile lakeside swing around Highway 61’s Silver Creek Tunnel is worth visiting on wheels or on foot for its panoramic views of Lake Superior. There’s also a three-mile stretch of trail from Schroeder to Tofte, passing through Temperance River State Park and offering a view of Carlton Peak.

The bridge over the upper gorge at Temperance River State Park is part of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail

The bridge over the upper gorge at Temperance River State Park is part of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail

This stretch could make a nice out-and-back casual ride or family trip of six miles with a stop for a hike to see the Temperance River Gorge. Navigating through the Town of Tofte, plan to take the Town Park Road, which can bring riders some excellent opportunities to engage with Lake Superior. The trail once again picks up on the northeast side of Tofte where it continues another 7.3 miles.

Current Sections

Silver Creek Cliff

The Gitchi-Gami State Trail begins with a short yet impressive one-mile section of the original North Shore Drive, running 4,000 feet around the Silver Cliff Creek Tunnel northwest of Two Harbors. This section of the trail offers a spectacular vista of Lake Superior and has a reproduction of the original 1924 North Shore Gateway arch and brass plaque welcoming visitors. While this section isn’t ready for through traffic, you may want to park just east of the tunnel and walk across the trail bridge to enjoy the view. This is also an area to see rock climbers and a great place for travel photos.

Gooseberry State Park to Silver Bay

Seven miles east of Silver Creek Cliff is the popular Gooseberry Falls State Park where the next segment of the Gitchi-Gami Trail starts just a quarter-mile east of the TH 61 Bridge. This trail segment leads to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and the towns of Beaver Bay and Silver Bay.

Temperance River State Park

The Gitchi-Gami State Trail picks up again at the east parking lot in Schroeder and travels through Temperance River State Park, about four miles to the west of Tofte This segment crosses the Temperance River Gorge and an ancient stream bed that is thought to have been an ancient route for the Temperance River into Lake Superior. There Temperance River Gorge offers spectacular views of the river and rocks below.

The Gitchi-Gami State Trail and Superior Hiking Trail cross paths at Temperance River State Park

The Gitchi-Gami State Trail and Superior Hiking Trail cross paths at Temperance River State Park

You can also view the 1,526-foot Carlton Peak. You’ll have to cross Highway 61 at the east end of Tofte and use the Town Road to access the community of Tofte. Trail users can use the Blue Fin Bay lake walk trail for about a half-mile to rejoin the trail on the east edge of town. This trail segment currently offers parking in Schroeder at the Tofte Public Water Access. Food, beverages and restroom facilities are available in Tofte.

Tofte to Grand Marais

This 7.3-mile trail segment starts at the northeast end of the town of Tofte. At County Road 34, where the trail used to dead-end, a tunnel underpass beneath Highway 61 connects to a new trail segment that ends at County Road 5 (Lutsen Ski Hill Road). The 1.5-mile segment of completed Gitchi-Gami State Trail in Grand Marais lies within the Grand Marais city limits. This trail segment connects to the Grand Marais Corridor Trail, a one-mile paved bike trail that travels through the heart of downtown Grand Marais.

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