In my inaugural blog post, it’s only fitting that I write about the best back country trail in Minnesota. The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) runs along the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior.
The SHT starts a bit SE of Duluth, and extends about 310 miles NE, nearly to the Canadian border. I’ve hiked the northern 250 miles or so, beginning at the Silver Creek area just N of Two Harbors; and traversed many segments of the trail numerous times over several decades (each time is its own adventure). The SHT connects with the Border Route Trail on the N end which will link with the Kekekabic Trail going into the BWCA and ending near Ely. Explore this great trail throughout the year, although you’ll see fewer people from October through April.
What a breeze to hike the SHT. No permits, no fees, no reservations needed. You can even bring your dog along, but keep the pooch on a leash. Multi-use is the name of the game–SHT is for day-hiking, camping, backpacking and snowshoeing year-round. Camp at designated campsites, with more than 90 sites to choose. Pictured below are Jon K., Mike H., Deb N., Tom L. and Rick B. from a 2012 backpacking trip.
With an abundance of rivers and streams, access to water is usually not a problem. In fact, water sources are usually near campsites. I like to check maps for water sources. Remember, water should always be filtered, boiled or treated with chemicals. During particularly humid and hot seasons, check with the Superior Hiking Trail Association online or in Two Harbors on water availability along your proposed route.
Discover a half dozen State Parks along the North Shore of Lake Superior–all connect with the SHT. There are dozens of other trailhead access points, many with nearby parking. SHT also has many loop-trail options– something for everybody. State Parks may be used as base camps–especially handy if some of your hiking group may not be up for a week on the SHT. State Parks are great for extended family vacations. Get those kids into the woods early!
My family and friends often stay in the State Park with all their outdoor amenities. Vehicles can also be staged at different trail heads for longer distance backpackers. In addition, a shuttle service is available.
Some of my most memorable SHT adventures these past decades were at State Parks, in pursuit of river trout and salmon during spring and fall camping outings. The Rainbow and Chinook return up the rivers to spawn. If you’re lucky enough to catch good weather and good fish, it’s truly a win-win situation. Then you’re “hooked”and likely will come back for more! Should you decide to combine such an outing with some backpacking, or extended day hikes, you’re probably within a mile or two of the SHT. Usually seeking to avoid crowds, I prefer the State Parks and the SHT during spring or fall, when conditions can be a bit more challenging.
What’s so nice about the SHT is the lack of congestion. You may not see another hiker all day– depending on seasonal conditions and your location. You won’t experience the crowds of popular trails in Glacier or Yellowstone national parks.
It should be evident that I love the SHT, and for good reason.
In future posts, I’ll share my adventures on particular segments of the SHT that I’ve really enjoyed, as well as a few favorite State Parks along the Trail. For additional information, contact the Superior Hiking Trail Association and subscribe to their newsletter.