Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hiking the Superior Trail

It all started when I picked up a copy of Thru Hiker's Guide to America: 25 Incredible Trails You Can Hike in One to Eight Weeks. One of the trails it praised, the Superior Trail, also happened to be one of the closest to Saskatchewan. I've been wanting to do a backpacking trip and this seemed like a good choice.

Lake Superior forms the north-east corner of Minnesota and the Superior Trail runs for 280 miles parallel to the shore. I did about 180 km (110 miles) of the trail over 9 days at the end of July. Although the biggest hills are only about 300 feet, some sections of the trail go up and down a lot, so it takes some effort. But the trail is very well maintained and marked and only foot traffic is allowed so it's very pleasant. And the trail guide available from the Superior Trail Office is excellent, giving details of each stage and all the campsites.

It turned out to be a little awkward to get to the start of the trail. I flew to Minneapolis, took an airport shuttle to Duluth, and then a taxi to Two Harbors (no other public transportation that I could find). I could have rented a car, but it would just have sat the whole time I was hiking so that didn't make much sense. From Two Harbors there is a trail shuttle that offers transportation to various points along the trail. Most people park their car at one end of the section they're hiking and then use the shuttle to get to/from the other end. I used it to get to the beginning of the trail, and then again to get back from my end point.

The weather was mixed, it rained every day, but not a lot, and I only ended up hiking in a downpour for one hour out of 9 days so I can't complain. And as you can see from my pictures, I got lots of sun too.

The bugs can be bad in this area, but they weren't for me. A couple of mornings they irritated me enough to put on insect repellent. They were out in the evenings as well but I could hide in the tent then.

I didn't see a lot of people on the trail, usually only 2 or 3 per day. (Other than where the trail went by roadside tourist attractions like waterfalls.) The back-country campsites were small, usually only a handful of tent sites at each. I only shared a campsite with other people one night.

The trail goes through a lot of forest, but it regularly tops out on ridges and high-points with great views. And there were lots of streams and rivers and waterfalls. I didn't see a lot of big animals - a few deer and a moose. But the plants and birds and insects and frogs etc. gave me more than enough to enjoy.

If you like backpacking, I'd give this trail two thumbs up. I think it would be awesome when the fall colors were out.

Of course, I took lots of photos.

2009-07 Superior Trail

1 comment:

  1. Awesome pictures! What a beautiful place! Looks like an amazing hike!