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Superior Trail (Minnesota)


queenbee87

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Get a water update and bring bug juice. I had a thru-hike of the ST all laid out. Went all the way to MN but didn't get an in depth water update until I got to Duluth. I found out that the waterfalls I was anticipating taking in had been reduced to a mere trickle and one had even gone dry. Oops. Fortunately, 12 days on Isle Royale NP hiking all the trails there provided a rewarding hiking option.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Just finished the Border Route Tr and SHT thrus yesterday. Had a fantastic time fishing the entire BRT through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area taking my time (six days) doing the 65 mile route. Wow, was it a mental challenge slowing down that much but the Brook trout, walleye, and Northern Pike fishing w/ a few Smallmouth Bass thrown in was damn good and the scenery top notch with many lakes and overlooks w/ virtually nothing man made visible or audible. Through the BRT I had every gorgeous lakeside campsite to myself every night. Saw not one other BRT thru-hiker and only two BRT section hikers. Likewise, saw not one SHT thru-hiker despite the timing of peak fall colors which changed as I got closer to Lake Superior. It's cooler in the winter inland and warmer in the summer which affects the fall colors as well as the tree diversity. The large healthy white and yellow birch in their fall splendor were impressive as were the Golden Larch. Saw three moose, two black bears, several bald eagles, hawks, owls, loons, umpteen beavers, umpteen Whitetail deer, otters, a red fox, and many birds and heard those Timber Wolves sounds during several nights. Glorious.

The SHT is a well signed well maintained trail well worth considering for a fall hike. The hike through Duluth past Martin Rd onto Jay Cooke SP is well worth doing too. Great hike in an area of nice people two who offered to me a room for the night.

Resupplied in:

Grand Marais(excellent thru-hiking town w/ all the conveniences thru-hikers often seek). Rec the hiker friendly Gunflint Motel which offers efficiencies at a Grand Marais reasonable rate and the Co-Op(GREAT hearty soup on a rainy cold day!)

Finland - stopped into Four Seasons Restaurant and the CoOp when someone offered a ride at the Rec Center. The fresh chicken breast sandwich w/ Jalapeno Cole slaw on the sandwich on a pretzel roll was delish.

Silver Bay, the Twin Lakes Loop takes you a block away from the Library, PO, Zups grocery store, restaurants, and about two blocks from the Mariner Motel.

Two Harbors - stop in at the SHTA and say hello, quite a scenic harbor w a nice short scenic shoreline loop around the lighthouse

Highly rec the SHT spurs to:

Tettegouche SP's new Visitors Center w/ Natural History and Wildlife exhibits w/ a short hike up to Shovel Pt on the impressively constructed wooden steps and the more impressive coastline bluffs shoreline view somewhat reminiscent of Acadia NP in Maine.

Hiking all the way out to the Temperance River mouth at Lake Superior

Visiting the Gooseberry SP Nature/Visitors Center AND definitely the Middle and Lower Falls

Wandering out or near to the Twin Harbors Beach near the Split Rock Lighthouse in Split Rock SP for ico9nic North shore pics of the lighthouse and surrounds. Some of the shoreline SPs have incredibly scenic Lake Superior shoreline for a fee off the SHT proper campsites.

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One other rec. If considering a SHT thru-hike or section hike through one of the several scenic SP's the SHT goes through request simple free SP maps from each of those SPs as they are more detailed in some ways than the SHTA maps in the SHTA Guidebook or pocket SHTA map set. For example, I sometimes unexpectedly encountered about 6-8 lean-tos on or very near the SHT that are mainly snowmobile type shelters but could provide emergency shelter that were on the SP maps that were not on the SHTA maps. Cascade Lodge(restaurant, cabins) and Lake County Demonstration Forest also offer trail maps showing various skiing, snomobiling, ATV, and hiking tracks as well as lean-tos that can offer short cuts, alternatives, or added enhanced scenic hiking opps and emergency shelter.

Even though various shuttle services exists I had no issue hitch hiking during the busy fall leaf peeping and beginning hunting seasons from Duluth to Grand Marais and from Grand Marais all the way 50 miles out the Gunflint Tr(It's just a road) to the Magnetic Rock TH(western BRT terminus)

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Hey Dogwood,

I think we may have crossed paths somewhere on the Border Route. I did the opposite of what you did, but I added the Kek as well. I finished the SHT on the 9/18 and BRT 9/22. I camped near the Pigeon River, Lake Gogebic, South Lake and spent a night in the bunkhouse at Gunflint Lodge.

I agree with you about the Duluth section of the SHT. Definitely worth it! I took a side trip to some state parks as well, many of the same ones you recommended, but missed out on Tettegouche. I found some of the state park maps online as PDFs.

As a thru-hiker it was challenging to have to decide which spurs trails to do and still get the miles in as I forgot to count them when making a general route plan. Some of my favorites were Carlton Peak, O'berg Mountain, and Pincushion Mountain. These shouldn't be missed. I'm sure I probably missed great views off the main SHT on the spurs. It's never a problem to have too many good views though :)

I resupplied in Silver Bay, Grand Marais, and at the Gunflint Lodge. There were a few thru hikers out on the trail, mostly southbounders. I heard of one northbounder I may have passed. The SHT was well maintained and I generally had cell service up until the northern sections of trail.

BRT was somewhat overgrown but I had heard much worse reports from others hikers who were just there that had to bail. It was generally easy to follow. Only a few times did I get a little disoriented briefly. I loved the overlooks of Watap and Rose Lakes and pretty much all the other lakes. It rained and all the underbrush got wet. I would recommend some rain pants to stay dry. The Gunflint cliffs were nice as well. Magnetic rock is quite dramatic. I didn't see any other hikers on the BRT but I did see a group of canoeists near stairway falls by Rose Lake.

I found the Kek to be marked more frequently than the BRT but the going was slower due to undergrowth in the burn area. The Kek passes many lakes but lacks the spectacular overlooks of the BRT. It makes up for this with pristine solitude which surpassed my BRT experience. After seeing a couple day hikers three miles in at Bingshick Lake, I didn't see a person for the remainder of the trail. I hiked slow as I had arranged a shuttle from Ely, but I could have finished it in 2.5 days without much trouble.

I arranged a shuttle ride back which was convenient, but I imagine I wouldn't have had much difficulty hitching a ride if I tried. I hitched into Ely from the end of the Kek. There was little traffic but the first car that passed me turned around and came back for me a few minutes later!

Overall, it was a great 400 mile route from Jay Cooke to the end of the Kek. Once done I stopped and did a ~50 miles route through Porkies and then the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail before heading back home.

The midwest has so much to offer!

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Good beta Eric. I wanted to add the Kekabic Tr into the mix but already had fall thru-hiking plans on the Sheltowweee Trace in Kentucky w/ transportation lined up. I'm having a great 7-8 weeks of fall hiking between Minnesota and Kentucky. Yipee.

I have to say I'm envious. What you did by adding on hikes at Porkys and at Pictured Rocks is what I would also have done if I had transportation. Throw in a fall Apostles kayaking trip and shangri-la la la.

What you did by staying a night at Gunflint Lodge is what I would also plan for had I done both the Kek and BRT.

I'm glad for the Kek update as well as I was hearing these navigation horror stories that I was often supicious of. Thx for the hitch update back and forth between Ely as that's what I usually do too.

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