Best Backpacking In Minnesota

The Land of 10,000 Lakes has just as many beautiful trails to explore. Here are our three favorites, from anything to an overnighter to a thru-hike.

Photo: Per Breiehagen via Getty Images

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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

From the air, it looks like a giant blue-and-green jigsaw puzzle-thousands of blue lakes in a sea of green pine forest. But the best way to appreciate the 1.25-million-acre Boundary Waters area is by paddling the 1,200 miles of canoe routes.

To find solitude, travel off-season or add a couple of difficult portages. The Kekekabic, Sioux Hustler, and Border Route Trails let you go where even paddling can’t take you.

Contact: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Superior National Forest, (218) 626-4300;

Superior Hiking Trail

Start in Duluth and make for the Canadian border. That was the dream in the mid-1980s. Twenty years and 235 miles later, that dream is nearly complete, making the Superior Hiking Trail a landlubber’s answer to the Boundary Waters wilderness. Beautiful enough, one trail register note says, to turn “city slickers into tree huggers in 1 short mile.”

Contact: Superior Hiking Trail Association, (218) 834-2700;

Voyageurs National Park

With 30-plus lakes, some of them huge, like Rainy and Kabetogama, Voyageurs is as close to a paddler’s paradise as you can get: more than one-third of the 218,000 acres is underwater. Bring your canoe or kayak, and stay long enough to sample the myriad camping and fishing opportunities.

Contact: Voyageurs National Park, (218) 283-9821;

From 2022