Superior Hiking Trail: Beaver Bay to Gooseberry Falls State Park

Wander through maple-birch-pine forest with pace-slowing views of the world’s largest freshwater lake.
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Wander through maple-birch-pine forest with pace-slowing views of the world’s largest freshwater lake.

The Superior Hiking Trail stretches 286 miles from Duluth to Canada, following the state’s most beautiful lakeshore. But you don’t have to quit your job to see one of its finest chunks, this 16.5-mile section boasting tranquil forests, commanding ridgetop vistas, and an easy-plan shuttle.
Shuttle Superior Shuttle (218-834-5511; superiorhikingshuttle.com)

Gear up Trailfitters, 600 E. Superior St., Duluth, MN; (218) 722-6776; trailfittersduluth.com

Contact (218) 834-2700; shta.org

BACKPACKER PRO Map Superior Hiking Trail ($20 backpacker.com/promaps/sht)

-Mapped by Steve Johnson

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 26.6

Waypoints

SHT001

Location: 47.265739, -91.309687

Lax Lake Rd trailhead and parking, .8 miles west of Hwy 61. Take off on a single-plank boardwalk through aromatic balsam forest. Lake Superior flashes through the trees.

SHT002

Location: 47.261347, -91.321261

Classic northern boreal forest: A radiant maple-birch-aspen stand

SHT003

Location: 47.258022, -91.330183

Cove Point spur: Drop your pack and climb 200 yards to big lake views from atop a lichen-stained basalt dome.

SHT004

Location: 47.259486, -91.339297

Great views of the Beaver River Valley and northern expanse of forest

SHT005

Location: 47.258664, -91.347174

Fault Line Ridge offers edge-to-edge views of the 300-foot-deep valley. Feast on trailside blueberries (July and August) as you descend.

SHT006

Location: 47.252678, -91.346382

Wild blueberries introduce a rugged and steep drop in the ridge

SHT007

Location: 47.244571, -91.347705

Follow a soggy section of trail past beaver pond

SHT008

Location: 47.239398, -91.361554

Panoramic views of conifer-dotted boreal forest

SHT009

Location: 47.235579, -91.367023

A steep drop leads past the Beaver Pond campsite. Keep going to better camping in less than two miles.

SHT010

Location: 47.233383, -91.375863

Christmas Tree Ridge offers horizon-stretching views of Lake Superior's ocean-worthy expanse. Spot raptors like broad-winged harks and bald easgles gliding updrafts near shoreside cliffs in the foreground

SHT011

Location: 47.225877, -91.383371

Steadily drop through aspen woods to Chapins Creek and pond.

SHT012

Location: 47.22267, -91.380562

Camp at Chapins Ridge in the shelter of 90-foot pines on the ridge high above Chapins Creek.

SHT013

Location: 47.220475, -91.387035

Next morning, continue south along a sidewalk-like, exposed basalt escarpment, concealed in places by a six-inch-deep carpet of emerald-green moss.

SHT014

Location: 47.210047, -91.394826

Junction with spur trail to Split Rock Lighthouse SP. Continue southbound.

SHT015

Location: 47.210018, -91.39661

Long, flat stretch along historic Merrill Grade railroad corridor

SHT016

Location: 47.19846, -91.397605

Cross Split Rock Creek via a wooden bridge and continue on a grassy ski trail, short-cutting the main SHT (which meanders several miles inland).

SHT017

Location: 47.186083, -91.403772

Trail meets and parallels Hwy 61

SHT018

Location: 47.182207, -91.409775

Head back inland from wayside parking area, with Split Rock River in the valley to the north

SHT019

Location: 47.18746, -91.416099

Rejoin the SHT at an idyllic grotto where soaring cedars surround a 20-foot waterfall.

SHT020

Location: 47.177988, -91.42814

Score the trip’s best panoramas on Bread Loaf Ridge, an open, weather-beaten rim of rock with clear-day views of the Apostle Islands, 30 miles away.

SHT021

Location: 47.173899, -91.443675

Descend past Blueberry Hill campsite and cross into an immense birch forest.

SHT022

Location: 47.15389, -91.458664

Pass through a clearcut area (private property) and into Gooseberry Falls State Park.

SHT023

Location: 47.144586, -91.467401

Reach Hwy 61 at the park's former visitor center. Cross a pedestrian bridge over 80-foot Middle and Lower Gooseberry Falls. Continue .3 mile to the new visitor center. Bonus: The beach at the lower parking area offers easy access to a post-hike swim.

SHT024

Location: 47.140969, -91.469483

Trail's end

Trail view

Location: 47.25861, -91.335359

View of the inland valley, from Fault Line Ridge

Location: 47.258554, -91.347032

Valley view with Beaver River below

Location: 47.258262, -91.346769

Valley view

Location: 47.257855, -91.346604

SW view from ridge

Location: 47.253777, -91.346467

Along the trail, near the Beaver Pond campsite

Location: 47.236031, -91.365912

Cedars

Location: 47.187346, -91.41634

View of the lake from Bread Loaf Ridge

Location: 47.178282, -91.428567