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The Peak: 2,301 feet
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.
If you’re stoked to stroke, launch your boat from Ely, an old mining town that Charles Kuralt once called the number one vacation destination in America. En route, stop by the museum devoted to the Root Beer Lady, aka Dorothy Molter. The last year-round resident of the BWCAW, Molter spent 56 years in a remote cabin by the Canadian border where she annually brewed 12,000 bottles of root beer for the hordes of parched paddlers who stopped at her resort. After her death in 1986, a band of North Woods soda devotees spent 7 years moving her two cluttered cabins by canoe, snowmobile, and dog sled to the rise on MN 1 where they stand today. Dorothy?s recipe is on sale for $2; the suds on tap are always cold. For information, see www.canoecountry.com/dorothy.