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Lake County Past Spotlight: Superior Hiking Trail construction

The trail crew shows off a recently completed work of art that straddles a small drainage in the Lake Superior highlands. Completion of the 250 mile trail is now half complete.1 / 2
Members of the Superior Hiking Trail celebrate reaching the halfway point of trail establishment.2 / 2


Construction of Superior Hiking Trail reaches halfway point

Those who have never experienced Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior may neither understand nor fully appreciate the enthusiasm of those who have. After all, it's hard to imagine a place in the Midwest that can promise nature-lovers the panoramas and physical challenge of mountainous terrain without the effects of altitude, especially when that some place can offer views of the sun or moon rising over a horizon of ocean-like swells stretching as far as the eye can see. Here, solitude reigns and virtual wilderness abides only a mile or two from civilization and its amenities. The North Shore is all of this — and more.

In 1987, when construction of the Superior Hiking Trail began, the public gained another means of taking in the many attractions of the North Shore. Once completed, the trail will permit nearly 250 miles of continuous hiking from Duluth to the Canadian border. With approximately 80 percent of the trail traversing public land, hikers will be able to explore seven state parks, two state forests and the Superior National Forest. Planners have taken care to minimize the trail's impact on nature, however; cleared to a width of just four feet, its tread way is but 18 inches- designed for foot traffic only.

As the 1990 hiking season begins, hikers will have approximately 130 miles of trail from which to choose when planning their North Shore adventures. The only difficulty is deciding how best to enjoy the area and the trail.

The trail itself appeals to a variety of interests: challenging without being technical, it allows individual hikers to decide whether their experience will be a physical workout or a less taxing but equally satisfying exertion; as it climbs to ridges and drops into deep forest, it permits the alert observer to sight hawks, deer, moose, and countless other creatures; and, to anyone who's willing, it also gives lessons in geology, botany and entomology.

Each year the Superior Hiking Trail Association sponsors monthly hikes from May until September. This year, to celebrate completion of the first half of the trail, the association has scheduled a hike from Grand Marais to Gooseberry Falls State Park. The association is seeking backpackers interested in hiking the entire distance, approximately 150 miles.

The Superior Hiking Trail is a product of the cooperative effort of the United States Forest Service, state of Minnesota and Superior Hiking Trail Association.