The Superior Hiking Trail: Our Favorite Sections

By Published On: October 12th, 20210 Comments
If you’re local to Minnesota, you’ve probably heard of the Superior Hiking Trail. This hiking trail spans from Jay Cooke State Park (south of Duluth, MN) all the way to the Canadian border. In total, the Superior Hiking Trail is over 300 miles long. It weaves through forest along the coast of Lake Superior and offers some of the most stunning views in the state. Many people even consider this to be one of the best hikes in the US! Because this trail is so long, it is broken up into many different sections and smaller trails. We’re going to cover some of our favorite sections that make perfect day hikes, as well as what to expect if you’re hoping to thru-hike the entire thing!

Best Hikes of the Superior Hiking Trail

1. Oberg Mountain Loop

Starting off our list of best hikes of the Superior Hiking Trail is this loop in the Superior National Forest, just south of Lutsen. This trail is nearly 2.5 miles long, making it the shortest on our roundup. You’ll encounter some inclines on this trail, but overall, it is a fairly easy hike and great for beginners or those less experienced. (Check out this post for some beginner hiking tips!) Plus, you’ll get some great views! Keep in mind that it can get muddy and icy during the cold and rainy seasons, so it’s best to hike this trail in the summer.

2. Bean and Bear Lake Loop

Another popular section of the Superior Hiking Trail is the Bean and Bear Lake Loop in Silver Bay. This loop is 6.5 miles long and features many elevation changes, so be ready for a little bit of a challenge! You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Bear Lake and Bean Lake at the overlook halfway through your loop. There is also a campsite at Bear Lake if you’re planning a weekend trip. However, because this hike isn’t very long, it’s great for a day out as well as training for longer backpacking trips. Don’t forget to bring your water bottle and sunscreen because there is not much shade on this trail.

3. Gooseberry River, The Nestor Grade, & Wolf Rock

If you’re ready to attempt a longer hike, another great section of the Superior Hiking Trail is this nearly 14.5-mile long out-and-back trail near Two Harbors. Be prepared for plenty of elevation changes as well as some rough terrain. You’ll end this hike in Gooseberry Falls State Park where you can hike just a little further to view the waterfall. This trail can be categorized as moderate to difficult, so it may be one you want to work up to. You’ll also find a few different campsites along this trail, so if you’re planning a camping trip, this may be one to check out!

4. Lutsen to Grand Marais

Another longer hike that’s great if you’re building your way up to the entire trail is starting at the Lutsen Mountains Recreational Area and hiking all the way up to Grand Marais. This hike features 4 sections of the Superior Hiking Trail and is 35.2 miles long. Each of these 4 sections feature numerous campsites, so you have plenty of options when it’s time to set up your tentand camp out for the night. These trail sections have a variety of terrain, making it a perfect way to train for longer trips!

5. Superior Hiking Trail (Thru-Hike)

Do you think you’re prepared to take on the challenge of hiking the Superior Hiking Trail in its entirety? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re going to attempt the 300+ miles!
  • Expect this hike to take 2-4 weeks. If you’ve never done a hike of this length before, you should expect it to take closer to 4 weeks, so plan accordingly by packing enough food, gear, etc. to last you that long.
  • Hike from south to north. This is a great tip for beginners. Starting in the south will help you ease your way into sections of the trail that get more difficult the farther north you travel. Plus, it should be noted that cell phone service gets worse in the rural areas up north, so if you need to end your hike early, it’s easier to do this while you’re still closer to the south.
  • Early fall is the best time to hike. In the summer, you’ll likely experience lots of bugs and heat, as well as thunderstorms. If you wait too late into the fall season, you may experience snowfall and significantly colder temperatures.
While it’s not an easy undertaking, there are many benefits to thru-hiking the Superior Hiking Trail! For one thing, you’ll get to experience the wide variety of natural scenery and terrain that Minnesota has to offer, as well as get some stunning views of Lake Superior—one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world! Another benefit is that it’s a great reset for you both physically and mentally. You’ll get plenty of exercise by hiking many miles each day, plus you’ll feel more at peace and refreshed with time spent away from screens and your busy daily schedule. Finally, thru-hiking the Superior Hiking Trail will help you build confidence in yourself! Hiking, especially hiking alone, allows you opportunities to learn to trust yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Whether you decide to thru-hike or simply explore a smaller section of Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail, be sure you visit our camping shop as well as invest in a great pair of hiking boots so that you can be geared up for anything that comes your way!

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