Duluth, MN: Brower Trail

Hike along the headwaters of the Mississippi River, where old-growth pines, loons, and a long lake add punch to this mellow 7.8-miler in Itasca State Park.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

These boardwalks will keep your feet dry through most of the trail, but prepare to get your feet wet.

These boardwalks will keep your feet dry through most of the trail, but prepare to get your feet wet.


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 6.2



Location: 47.192569732666, -95.1710662841797

Head N along east arm of Lake Itasca through northern pines and understory of trillium and lady’s slipper (Minnesota’s state flower). Pack bug dope


Location: 47.2003517150879, -95.1739196777344

Hug shore of slim inlet, following boardwalks above swamplike areas; pass W end of Preacher’s Grove, a stand of 300-year-old red pines


Location: 47.2095603942871, -95.1768112182617

Hard-packed path rises above shoreline; views open over placid central lake to the W. Peace Pipe Vista accessible via large wooden staircase


Location: 47.2168312072754, -95.1875610351562

End of Brower Trail; old boat loading gives nice views of lake. Go up dirt road on R, then take L onto multiuse trail


Location: 47.2188491821289, -95.1912689208984

Turn L onto boardwalk through sedge and alder into cattail-studded Floating Bog Bay, then pass campground and reenter forest


Location: 47.2199783325195, -95.191650390625

Large wood bridge above swamp


Location: 47.2251510620117, -95.1904983520508

Boardwalk ends


Location: 47.2308006286621, -95.1955490112305

Pioneer Cemetery. Find headstone of Theodore Wegmann, park’s first game warden. Go N through woods along North Arm


Location: 47.2332801818848, -95.1970520019531

Pass marina, which offers watercraft, bike, and fishing-gear rentals. Look for loons swimming and diving on lake


Location: 47.236198425293, -95.1999130249024

Finish @ open beach. Scan NW to where the Mississippi begins its 2,552-mile trip south. Retrace route to car

Trailhead dock area

Location: 47.1927452087402, -95.1709136962891

Before starting out, view the tranquil waters of the East Arm from this dock ©Bob Wold

Lily pads

Location: 47.1925659179688, -95.1709747314453

Floating green discs of flora dot the waters of Lake Itasca’s East Arm. ©Bob Wold

Full lake view

Location: 47.1928672790527, -95.1711578369141

Scan the mirror-like waters of the East Arm before heading into the woods. ©Bob Wold

Wooded trail near north end of East Arm

Location: 47.1976661682129, -95.1725540161133

Boardwalk cuts through the dense growth on this section of the Brower Trail. ©Bob Wold

Tall trees

Location: 47.2118759155273, -95.1775970458984

Sky-reaching trees along the Brower Trail. ©Bob Wold

Vew near Peace Pipe Vista

Location: 47.2100524902344, -95.1766891479492

See the blues of Lake Itasca from this overlook. ©Bob Wold

Winding trail

Location: 47.2154579162598, -95.1805725097656

Trail bends through trees above lake. ©Bob Wold

Catwalk over swamp

Location: 47.2159461975098, -95.1859130859375

©Bob Wold

Stones and pines

Location: 47.2159461975098, -95.184700012207

©Bob Wold

Bay view

Location: 47.216552734375, -95.1884078979492

A quick off-trail spur leads to an old lakeside dock. ©Bob Wold


Location: 47.2252960205078, -95.1902923583984

This large bridge leads above the swamps through the woods. ©Bob Wold

Sunset over the headwaters of the Big Muddy

Location: 47.2361068725586, -95.1997604370117

A fiery-yellow orb slinks below the horizon, just above where the Mississippi River starts its long journey to the Gulf of Mexico. ©Bob Wold

Pioneer Cemetary

Location: 47.2309455871582, -95.1954498291016

The graves of some of the first settlers to the area. ©Bob Wold


Location: 47.2317924499512, -95.1961212158203

Dusk at the often bustling marina on Lake Itasca. Rent bikes and watercraft here. ©Bob Wold

Sunset through clouds

Location: 47.2362861633301, -95.199821472168

The last rays of day stream through the cumulus. ©Bob Wold

Trending on Backpacker