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
- Distance: 26.6
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.
Location: 47.261347, -91.321261
Classic northern boreal forest: A radiant maple-birch-aspen stand
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.
Location: 47.259486, -91.339297
Great views of the Beaver River Valley and northern expanse of forest
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.
Location: 47.252678, -91.346382
Wild blueberries introduce a rugged and steep drop in the ridge
Location: 47.244571, -91.347705
Follow a soggy section of trail past beaver pond
Location: 47.239398, -91.361554
Panoramic views of conifer-dotted boreal forest
Location: 47.235579, -91.367023
A steep drop leads past the Beaver Pond campsite. Keep going to better camping in less than two miles.
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
Location: 47.225877, -91.383371
Steadily drop through aspen woods to Chapins Creek and pond.
Location: 47.22267, -91.380562
Camp at Chapins Ridge in the shelter of 90-foot pines on the ridge high above Chapins Creek.
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.
Location: 47.210047, -91.394826
Junction with spur trail to Split Rock Lighthouse SP. Continue southbound.
Location: 47.210018, -91.39661
Long, flat stretch along historic Merrill Grade railroad corridor
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).
Location: 47.186083, -91.403772
Trail meets and parallels Hwy 61
Location: 47.182207, -91.409775
Head back inland from wayside parking area, with Split Rock River in the valley to the north
Location: 47.18746, -91.416099
Rejoin the SHT at an idyllic grotto where soaring cedars surround a 20-foot waterfall.
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.
Location: 47.173899, -91.443675
Descend past Blueberry Hill campsite and cross into an immense birch forest.
Location: 47.15389, -91.458664
Pass through a clearcut area (private property) and into Gooseberry Falls State Park.
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.
Location: 47.140969, -91.469483
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
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
Location: 47.187346, -91.41634
View of the lake from Bread Loaf Ridge
Location: 47.178282, -91.428567