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Backpacker Magazine – December 2000

Hiking Minnesota's Superior Hiking Trail

A whale of a Minnesota trail beside a Great Lake.

by: Taryn Jory and Andy Dappen

The name aptly describes this long trail, both for its quality and its location, as it runs primarily along ridgelines above the North Shore of the nation's largest lake. Readers were particularly impressed with Superior's signage and camp/shelter conditions, which were rated the best of the survey. Considering that this 200-plus-mile Minnesotan trail traverses a variety of state parks, county lands, national forest lands, and private holdings, the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) deserves a well-earned pat on the back for such impressive coordination and maintenance efforts.

But what really sets this trail apart is its namesake lake, so big that to the eye it looks like an ocean. While you're on the high ridges the trail so often follows, Lake Superior is a travel companion with its own moods. Its waters shift through all the hues of gray, green, and blue. "Sometimes," says Nancy Odden, SHTA's Executive Director, "the surface reflects the sun like a full moon, other times the boundary between the horizon line of the water and that of the clouds is virtually indistinguishable."

Combine all this with the hardwood lowlands and boreal highlands of the surrounding Sawtooth Mountains and the rapids, waterfalls, and gorges of the streams along the way, and you have a great scenic trail. You also have a tremendously diverse domain for the deer, moose, beavers, black bears, and eagles that make this one of the best long trails for sighting wildlife.

For best information:
Superior Hiking Trail Association, (218) 834-2700; Ask for the Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail.

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