Boundary Waters: Eagle Mountain

Tag the highest peak in Minnesota on this 6.6-mile hike, which courses under a coniferous forest and past a glacial lake with nice backcountry campsites.

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Eagle Mountain, the northernmost high point in the Lower 48, may be just 2,301 feet high, but it’s no anonymous cornfield. It resides in Superior National Forest, the largest outside of Alaska, amid one of the world’s great paddling destinations, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The park boasts 1,000 lakes (leaving just 9,000 for the rest of the state) as well as the pristine 3.5-mile one-way trail to Minnesota’s apex. You pass through hardwood forest on mostly flat and rocky terrain to Whale Lake, where it’s all but impossible not to picnic. Then you begin to climb, gaining 600 feet over the last mile. There are timber wolves, moose, bear, and, of course, eagles.

– Copy by Joe Glickman. Route mapped by Steffan Fay.


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.4


Eagle Mountain Overlook

Location: 47.8959541, -90.5573502

©Steffan Fay


Location: 47.8906898, -90.5454788

©Steffan Fay

Stepping Over Rocky Path

Location: 47.8674927, -90.5428848

©Steffan Fay


Location: 47.8633003, -90.5449982

Grab day-use permit, then hike N into Superior National Forest


Location: 47.8672409, -90.5433502

Go slow: Trail is littered with slippery roots and watermelon-sized rocks


Location: 47.8750801, -90.5407104

Cross the riffles of Whale Creek and enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness


Location: 47.8807106, -90.5431824

Continue straight through forest dominated by spruce, pine, and larch


Location: 47.8859711, -90.5433731

Cross boardwalks over several boggy spots (better known as mosquito nests; apply bug spray early and often)


Location: 47.8906784, -90.5456314

Fresh, cool air blows off grayish-blue waters of Whale Lake. Superb backcountry sites nearby (permit required)


Location: 47.8929482, -90.5487595

Veer L @ Y for ascent up Minnesota’s highpoint


Location: 47.895649, -90.5574493

Trees thin and views stretch from Cascade Riverway to Misquah Hills, an undulating green wilderness with countless hidden lakes. On the clearest of days, look for Lake Superior in the ESE


Location: 47.8969612, -90.5610504

Turn R, connect cairns to summit


Location: 47.8974495, -90.5603714

Eagle Mountain (2,301 ft.): You’re on top of Minnesota. Snap a photo by the large summit marker, then return to trailhead

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