Wednesday, August 19, 2015

1996 Backpacking Minnesota's Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail is within the Superior National Forest. The trail parallels Lake Superior, running 310 miles on the ridgeline adjacent to the north shore from Duluth, Minnesota, to Canada. It is open only to foot traffic and ranges in elevation from lake level (602 feet above sea level) to 1750 feet, with much up and down as it ascends rock outcroppings and cliffs and descends for numerous creek and river crossings, all of which are bridged. Birch, aspen, pine, fir, oak, maple, basswood, balsam, spruce, tamarack, and cedar forests alternate with grassy clearings, produced over the years by fire and clear-cutting. Wildlife include deer, moose, beaver, black bear, eagles, grouse, and 100 species of birds.

The Superior Hiking Shuttle is available to assist in doing a point-to-point hike if you only have one car available. All the info you need is available on their website.

The Superior Hiking Trail Association (link above) boasts a membership of over 3200 people and has already been ranked as one of the best distance trails by Backpacker and Prevention magazines. The Association organizes and supervises all aspects of the trail and publishes a newsletter.

Also available are motels/inns along the trail as well as Lodge-to-Lodge hiking which allows you to day hike and stay in a lodge overnight.

This was taken north of Crystal Creek in a magnificent stand of birch trees and shows a tree with the Superior Hiking Trail logo.

The trail is well-maintained, although some areas are muddy. As the literature states: "If you find an area that you feel should be planked, then volunteer to plank it!" Spurs, trailheads, and intersections are all well-marked with mileages to the next landmark. The guidebook listed below is exceptionally well-done and should be used for both planning your hike and carried with you as you hike (or xerox and carry the pages you need.) It is also available as an e-book.

A lake south of Alfred's Pond.

Alfred's Pond, a beautiful bog, is a good resting point or lunch stop. They have built a floating walkway to allow hikers access to the water's shore without trudging through mud or causing damage to the delicate environment. Since bogs lack needed nutrients, several bog plants have evolved into insect-eating plants to acquire nutrients such as nitrogen. The pitcher plant and sundew are examples found here.

93 back-country campsites are situated every five to eight miles along most of the trail and are well-marked in the guidebook. Since numerous private land is passed through, camping is only allowed at these back-country campsites. Trailhead parking lots are available every five to ten miles making both day hikes or backpacks convenient. No permits are required on the trail and no fees are charged. All campsites are first come-first served and all have latrines, firerings, brushed out tent areas, and usually a year-around water source which must be treated.


Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail edited by Andrew Slade, Ridgeline Press, 7th edition is available from the Superior Hiking Trail Association.

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