Fall Colors MN North Shore + Tours

Two Harbors to Little Marais

Two Harbors to Beaver Bay

This route explores the backcountry including northern hardwood forests of oak, maple and basswood and boreal forests of pine, spruce, cedar, aspen and birch.

30 miles + 24 mile return to Two Harbors

see directions
From Hwy 61, drive north on Co. Rd. 3 for 28 miles to the Lax Lake Rd (Co. Rd. 4), then south on Co. Rd. 4 for 2 miles to Beaver Bay; this triangular route uses Hwy 61 as the third, returning leg.
Castle Danger to Gooseberry Falls

Consider leaving a car at Gooseberry Falls for this 8 1/2-mile stunning hike. The trail runs north of Castle Danger to Gooseberry State Park. Highlights include overlooks at Wolf Rock, Crow Creek Valley and Mike’s Rock. The upper reach area of the Gooseberry River is particularly gorgeous. The round trip hike to the Crow Creek Overlook and back is 2 1/2 miles.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 just past MM 36, drive north on Co. Rd. 106 (which turns into Silver Creek 617) to parking on right
Gooseberry Fifth Falls Tour

Winding up the east bank of the Gooseberry River, this 1 1/2 mile loop passes the upper Falls as it leads to the Fifth Falls. Not as spectacular as further inland, but an enjoyable autumn stroll with great vistas.

map | see directions
Gooseberry Falls State Park, MM 39.5 on Hwy 61
3206 Highway 61 East
Beaver Bay to Illgen City

Similar backcountry terrain as route from Two Harbors to Beaver Bay. Watch for deer and moose on this narrow winding road. A good picnic spot is along Lax Lake, about 7 miles into the tour. As an option, head north and follow MN Hwy 1 to Isabella or Ely.

see directions
From Hwy 61, MM 51.4 drive north 3.2 miles on the Lax Lake Rd (Co. Rd. 4), at the T, turn left on Co Rd 11 for 2 miles, then turn right on Co Rd 31 for 6.7 miles to MN Hwy 1, then south 4.3 miles to to Hwy 61.
Split Rock River Loop

The upstream portion of this superb trail sits 50 feet above the river along a rocky ledge. On the downstream, eastern leg, you will be treated to overlooks of the river valley, and, as you head inland, you can look out to Lake Superior.

map | see directions
Parking and trailhead on Highway 61 at MM 45

Hike through boreal forests before climbing maple ridges that showcase magnificent fall colors and imposing sheer rock outcrops.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 MM 65.3 at Little Marais, drive north on Little Marais Rd (Co Rd 6) for 2 miles to Superior Hiking Trail sign and parking

Schroeder, Tofte and Lutsen

Heartbreak Ridge

Make this fall color tour number one your list. It is breathtaking. The short drive leads you down one of the prettiest maple canopied drives along Minnesota’s North Shore. A roadside plaque explains how Heartbreak Ridge was named.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61, head north on the Temperance River Rd (FR 343), then east on the Six Hundred Rd (FR 166) and south on the Sawbill Trail (Co. Rd. 2) to Highway 61
Carlton Peak

Massive blocks of resistant gray anorthosite form Carlton’s Peak. This heady peak gives bird’s eye views of the maple forests you will cross to reach the summit. A nearby overlook has panoramas of Lake Superior, Tofte and the Temperance River Valley.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61, MM 83.4 in Tofte, drive north on Sawbill Trail (Co. Rd. 2) about 2 miles to parking area on right
Britton Peak

A steep half-mile grade leads to Britton’s Peak and views of Superior, adjacent hardwood forests and Carlton’s Peak to the west.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61, MM 83.4 in Tofte, drive north on Sawbill Trail (Co. Rd. 2) about 2 miles to parking area on right
The Grade
The Grade

This drive is pretty anytime of the year. As you travel through conifers and hardwoods and past eight lakes, keep an eye out for moose.

see directions
From Hwy 61, MM 83.4 in Tofte, drive north on the Sawbill Trail (Co. Rd. 2) 17 miles to The Grade (FR 170), east 14.3 miles to Caribou Trail (Co. Rd. 4), return south on 17.3 miles to Hwy 61.
Oberg Mountain

Oberg is the trail to hike during the early maple colors of autumn. This maple hillside will surpass all expectations. Hike includes seven overlooks, so don’t forget your camera!

Hike is 2.25 miles with some steep climbs.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 MM 86.1, drive north on the Onion River Rd (FR 336) 2 miles to parking
Lutsen Mountains Gondola

Treat yourself to a beautiful gondola ride over the Poplar River Valley and up Moose Mountain. Opt for the gondola ride back or return on the moderately difficult 3.6-mile trail through maples back to the main chalet or Caribou Highlands lodge. Very nice!

see directions
From Hwy 61 MM 90.1 in Lutsen, drive north on the Ski Hill Rd to Lutsen Mountains
White Sky Rock

A steep quarter mile trek leads to the overlook of Caribou Lake and the surrounding maple forests.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61, drive north on the Caribou Trail (Co. Rd. 4) about 4 miles to the brown and yellow trailhead sign

Grand Marais to Grand Portage

Pincushion Mountain Overlook

The Gunflint Trail climbs 1000 feet in the first few miles to a maple ridge line. The Pincushion Mountain and Devil Track River Trails lead through these maples to overlooks of Lake Superior, the maple forests and falls and gorges of the Devil Track River. Admire the view from the overlook or stroll along the cross-country ski trails.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 MM 109.2, turn north on 5th Ave W for 0.7 miles, tunr west onto Gunflint Trail for 1.5 miles, turn east onto Pincushion Drive for 0.2 miles
Maple Hill

The picturesque Maple Hill Church sits center stage surrounded by maples – this is a great early season drive.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 MM 109.2, turn north on 5th Ave W for 0.7 miles, tunr west onto Gunflint Trail for 3.1 miles, turn west onto Maple Hill Drive for 0.6 miles
Hovland Lookout Tower (Drive & Hike)

The tower overlooks sugar maples, quaking aspens and conifers, making it a good drive and hike all fall color season long. This is a good wildlife viewing spot.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 MM 128.7 in Hovland, turn north onto Arrowhead Trail for 2.4 miles, then park and hike 1.5 miles west on the Superior Hiking Trail

Gunlfint Trail

Trout Lake Road and County Road 60 Loop

The Trout Lake Road / Co Rd 60 loop is a lovely 32.5-mile drive, that is especially pretty, featuring beautiful sugar maples.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 in Grand Marais, drive north on 5th Ave W 0.7 miles, turn left onto Gunflint Trail for 10 miles,
turn right onto Trout Lake Road for 7.5 miles,
turn right onto Co Rd 14 for 2.5 miles,
take a slight right onto Co Rd 60 for 6.4 miles,
turn left onto Gunflint Trail for 4.7 miles, turn right onto 5th ave W for 0.7 miles
Lima Mountain Lookout
Lima Mountain Lookout

A pretty, quiet backwoods drive, that can include a 1-mile hike to the top of Lima Mountain where a fire lookout tower once stood, full-circle panoramas show the golden autumn tones of the backcountry. 65.3 miles for the entire loop.
The pullover to Lima Mountain is approximately 5 miles south on Lima Grade, if you come to USFS 152, you’ve gone about a half mile too far.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 in Grand Marais, drive north on 5th Ave W 0.7 miles, turn left onto Gunflint Trail for 27.1 miles,
turn left onto Lima Grade for 9.1 miles,
OPTION -> return to the Gunflint Trail after 5.5 miles via USFS 152
turn left onto South Brule Rd for 6.0 miles
turn right onto Gunflint Trail for 16.2 miles, turn right onto 5th ave W for 0.7 miles
Honeymoon Bluff

A more difficult half mile climb up Honeymoon Bluff showcases the fall colors circling Hungry Jack Lake’s perimeter.

map | see directions
From Hwy 61 in Grand Marais, drive north on 5th Ave W 0.7 miles, turn left onto Gunflint Trail for 26.3 miles,
turn right onto Clearwater Road for 2.25 miles, parking lot is on left