mile 83.4

one of the best trails in the state

Jackpot/High Climber mountain bike trails connecting Britton Peak trails to Lutsen Mountains.  This sixteen-mile wilderness trail through the Sawtooth Mountains offers big climbs with rewarding fast and flowy descents, jumps, rollers, massive berms, incredible rock features, and scenic vistas all located in the maple forest of the North Shore.

To access Jackpot, leave the parking lot on Shortstacker, climbing gently for the first half mile, before turning onto Cross Cut to where it intersects with Jackpot. Jackpot connects to High Climber o the Onion River Road and ultimately leads to Lutsen Mountains. When leaving Jackpot and returning to the parking lot, the last 3/4 mile of Cross Cut is a ripping fast, one way, blast to the trailhead.

mile 66.0

Hike through boreal forests before climbing maple ridges that showcase magnificent fall colors and impressive rock cliffs with view to the Baptism River valley. The trail is 4.5-mile round trip.

From Highway 61, drive north on Lake County Road 6 for for 2 miles to the Superior Hiking Trail sign and parking.
*Bonus: on the drive back down Co. Rd 6, stop on the southbound gravel pull off just before the guard rail starts, for an excellent view of the big lake.

mile 80.4

Make this fall color tour drive 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. The final descent into Tofte offers a glimpse of the Tofte cemetery and views of Lake Superior. The Sawbill and Hwy 61 are paved; the other roads are gravel. 18 miles total

mile 83.4

Massive blocks of gray anorthosite form Carlton Peak. This heady summit gives bird’s-eye views of the maple forest you crossed to reach the peak. A nearby overlook has panoramas of Lake Superior, Tofte, and the Temperance River Valley, which makes this a great late season hike, too.

From mile marker 83.4 in Tofte, drive north 2.3 miles to the parking area on the east/right.

mile 92.8

A 230-foot climb in under a quarter mile brings views of Caribou Lake, and the thick maple forests surrounding it. This little hikes leads to a spur trail of the Superior Hiking Trail [SHT]. Look for the SHT trail sign on the left side of the lot, and follow the trail, which leads right to the Caribou Trail; cross the road and follow the trail to the top. This east-facing overlook makes for a pretty sunrise spot, too!

From Hwy 61, turn north on the Caribou Trail/Co Rd 4 for 4 miles to the small parking area on the left; if you come to the boat launch, you’ve gone too far.

mile 110.1

Picturesque Maple Hill Church sits center stage surrounded by maples. This short drive is just outside Grand Marais, an easy add-on to your day, or perfect first stop on your way up the Gunflint Trail. Allow a few contemplative moments to enjoy the serene surrounding.

From the Gunflint Trail, turn west onto Maple Hill Drive for 0.6 miles. Return the same way.

mile 110.3

The Trout Lake Road / County Rd 60 loop is a lovely drive, with beautiful sugar maple-lined sections of the road, often with their canopies meeting overhead. This is also a chance to get out into the woods from Grand Marais on an easy to navigate drive. You will head north on the Gunflint Trail, drive a loop and return on the Gunflint Trail, which, along with Hwy 61 are paved; all other roads are gravel.

From Hwy 61, drive north on Gunflint Trail for 11 miles; turn right on Trout Lake Road for 7.5 miles; turn right on County Rd 14 for 2.5 miles; take a slight right on County Rd 60 for 6.4 miles; turn left on Gunflint Trail for 4.7 miles, and, turn right on 5th Ave W for 0.7 miles.

mile 110.5

Take a late season fall color drive in the back country. From the Gunflint Trail, drive west on Forest Road 325 / South Brule Road for 6 miles, drive north on on the Lima Grade for 9 miles back to the Gunflint Trail, either continue up the Trail [7 miles to mid Trail forr a few shops and restaurants] or return the approximate 28 miles to Grand Marais

*Bonus Hike:
At about 3.4 miles up the Lima Mountain Grade, you will see a grassy parking area. A rocky, poorly maintained trail leads about 1.2 miles to the top of Lima Mountain, where a fire lookout tower once stood [erected in 1935 and removed in 1978]. You will also get great views of the golden backcountry from an overlook about 2/3-mile in; return the same way.

mile 128.7

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.

From mile marker 128.7 on Hwy 61 in Hovland, turn north on Arrowhead Trail for 3.7 miles, then park on the side of the road [leaving room for other traffic] and hike 1.5 miles west on the Superior Hiking Trail. Return for a 3-mile overall hike.

**Note: the Superior Hiking Trail Parking trailhead is 3.3 miles north on Arrowhead Trail; hiking from here increases the hike length to about 4 miles.

mile 51.0

This route explores the backcountry including northern hardwood forests of oak, maple, and basswood, and boreal forests of pine, spruce, cedar, aspen and birch. You will ascend to the top of the hills, then drop down for a woodland drive. Watch for deer – and maybe a rare moose – on this winding, low-traffic road. I suggest starting in Beaver Bay and working counterclockwise so you can enjoy the views descending MN Highway 1 towards Lake Superior and Highway 61.

This drive is lovely anytime during the season, showcasing ridge line maples early and poplar and birch later.

Option:  at MN Hwy 1, turn left and go to Finland for a visit and lunch; return on MN Hwy 1, or on Co Rd 6, where the final few miles of descent are also impressive. All roads are paved. Click on the map for a larger

mile 26.0

This route explores the backcountry including northern hardwood forests of oak, maple and basswood and boreal forests of pine, spruce, cedar, aspen and birch. It’s a great way to get off the highway and go for a country drive – all paved roads. From Two Harbors, drive northeast on MN-61 to Lake County 3, stay on this road – it turns into the Airport Road – until the T and head south on the Lax Lake Rd to Beaver Bay.

Consider continuing behind the ridge line by heading north on the Lax Lake Rd and following the directions of the Beaver Bay to Illgen City route.

mile 150.8

at Grand Portage State Park

The Pigeon River drops 950 feet ending with the 120-foot drop High Falls. This lower reach is particularly rugged until a short distance after the falls, where the river widens. An easy half-mile hiking trail in Grand Portage State Park leads to the High Falls. The trail end has two great viewing decks where you can feel the spray of the falls and take photos! Leave time for a visit to the center and store within this state park, too.

mile 146.6

Top-of-the-world views can be found at the summit of Mt. Josephine;  turnaround views of Grand Portage Bay, and Wauswaugoning Bay, the Susie Islands, and Isle Royale National Park. Hike in about 1/2-mile to a ‘Summit 1 mile’ sign, this is when it starts to get steep with a few switchbacks.

The super easy way to see Mt. Jo is from the pull-offs on Hwy 61 a few miles south of the monument.

Trailhead is on Upper Rd, past the holding ponds, to a small pull off on the left; the trail starts by heading northeast along an old road

mile 145.4

Two trails lead to the top of Mount Rose. The original Mount Rose has stone steps then switchbacks up the south side. The new Loop is not circular, but a trail bookended by sets of stairs and offers a more gradual ascent up the ridge line. Both provide excellent views of Lake Superior and the bay.

The Mount Rose Loop begins in the picnic area at the west end of the Heritage Center parking lot. The older Mount Rose Trail begins from the east and ends across from the historic depot’s stockade and main gate.

mile 145.4

The Grand Portage is the slowly ascending wooded trail from the stockade on Lake Superior to Fort Charlotte; 8.5 miles one-way from Lake Superior at the monument. For shorter trips, consider hiking to Old Highway 61 [8 miles round trip], or start at Highway 61 and hike to Fort Charlotte for a 9-mile round trip hike.

mile 123.8

The popular hike runs cliffside high above the Brule River. After a spur to the Lower Falls, make the final climb  to where the river splits. The eastern flow tumbles over the High Falls while the western arm drops into the Devil’s Kettle, final destination unknown. While the roar of the river is spectacular in the spring, it can be hard to see the Devil’s Kettle. If that is your goal, head out midsummer or later when the spring flow has subsided.

mile 113.7

The gentle Woods Creek sits within birch and spruce woods with cut-away views of Lake Superior, Five Mile Rock, Pincushion Mountain and the Sawtooth Range the hike has some small short climbs up and down to rivers and creeks, passes through deciduous forest and pine stands and has lots of bridges over burbling waterways. This is popular as a two-vehicle hike. Leave one at Kimball Creek and take the other to the trailhead on the Lindskog Road.

mile 110.8

Follow the well-worn trail through the woods, past a pond, ending at the 60-foot high Magnetic Rock. This bedrock outcrop has lots of magnetite, the most magnetic of all the naturally-occurring minerals on Earth. Pull out your compass and watch it react. The trail includes areas affected by the 1999 blowdown, 2002 prescribed burn, and 2007 Ham Lake wildfire, all good areas to keep an eye out for blueberries.

mile 110.7

Three overlooks and a waterfall! Go for a short ascent over about 0

.7 miles to Caribou Rock, an overlook of Bearskin Lake; another mile in is the overlook of Moss Lake. The entire trail (7-mile round trip) leads to the Duncan Lake Overlook and continues high above the lake to the Rose Falls and Stairway Portage where it intersects with the east-west 65-mile Border Route Trail; plan on 5 hours plus lunch near the waterfalls at Stairway Portage.

mile 110.6

Beautiful sunsets, big views, wooden stairs and a rocky overlook make this a great hike. At 1.5 miles round-trip, it is the longest of the short hikes and very worth it. Take the spur trail in and then start to climb those stairs. Your reward, amazing views of Hungry Jack and Bearskin Lakes, and out into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. If you go for the sunsets, bring a headlamp, flashlight, phone light for the return trip. Talk about bang for your buck!

The Trailhead is about a quarter mile past Flour Lake Campground Rd.

mile 110.5

Enjoy tasty berries in season (July and August) and admire Northern Light Lake from atop Blueberry Hill. If you’re heading up the Gunflint Trail for the day, this makes a great leg-stretcher stop. This is a short steep hike that includes bedrock, which can be slippery when wet.  The there-and-back trail includes two northern overlooks of Northern Light Lake [three in spring and fall when the trees don’t have leaves].

The trail is semi-maintained with one narrow, wooded section where you may wonder if you’ve gone astray; keep climbing, you haven’t. At the uppermost overlook a 0.1 mile spur leads west over a rock outcrop before petering out. Admire the handful of magnificent old growth white pines along this trail.

mile 110.4

This is a nice level walk through some beautiful cedar stands, near the shores of the Elbow River, and under gorgeous pines. I recommend this trail for anyone who wants to get out into the woods in a safe comfortable way – the trail is easy to get to, well-marked, and pretty. It is an un/sometimes groomed cross-country ski, ski-joring and snowshoe trail in the winter, too. The trail is a short spur into a loop, you choose which direction.

mile 92.2

Eagle Mountain is the highest point in Minnesota. The first few miles head through dense forest with openings to bogs and sloughs and the trail is crisscrossed with roots and rocks. At Whale Lake the trail takes a turn and the country becomes a bit more open for a half mile. The final mile is a climb to the summit and open views.

Portions of the trail are within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, it is considered a wilderness trail and while well-used it is rocky and uneven, not regularly maintained, and does not have stairs on the climb. Plan ahead: make sure everyone in your group is able to make the climb, is wearing appropriate footwear, has enough water, snacks, bug dope, and some emergency supplies. There is no cell service and it is very difficult to extract hikers in an emergency situation. You will also need a BWCAW permit which is available at the trailhead kiosk.

mile 101.3

Choose your own hike length. For a shorter jaunt with river views from above, head north 1 mile to the North Cascade River Camp. Or hike down the east side of the river a half-mile or more for picturesque riverside views of cliffs under old growth cedars.

The big loop, 6.8 miles is down the east [or west] side of the river, crossing on the footbridge and returning north. This hike has you descend just over 1000-feet and climb just over 1100-feet. A 3.6-mile option is to leave a car at the Highway 61 parking near the river mouth, then take another vehicle to the trailhead and hike downriver and downhill.

Cascade Mountain, pictured here, is visible from the parking area.

mile 110.3

Close to town, lots of spur options and expansive views make this an ideal hiking location. My #1 recommendation is the hike to the summit of Pincushion Mountain, pictured here. Use the map. There are loads of intersections and it is easy to get confused. You will follow the Superior Hiking Trail on the Pincushion Loop, then take the spur trail to the the peak. You will come to an overlook — appreciate it — but keep going, the views open up to 270-degrees just a bit further along. Return on the Pincushion Loop making this a 4.5 mile hike.

The hike follows cross-country ski trails so is a nice wide trail through birch with some low areas, moderate ascents and nice pines. Hike the 25K of cross country ski trails or the new bike trails (give right away to bikers, though!). The Superior Hiking Trail also crosses through the trail system and the overlook offers panoramic views of Lake Superior and Grand Marais. Trails have lots of junctions, so consider bringing a print map.

mile 109.6

Parking is on a tombolo, a spit of land that connects the mainland to an island, in this case Artist’s Point. Enjoy the cobblestone beach on the East Bay, then walk out to island, where you can follow the trail to the easternmost point for perspectives of the town and hillside from the water. Then head west to the lighthouse – this is definitely a hand-holding portion of the walk, or may not be a wise choice for all children. Remember the average temperature of Lake Superior is 42 degrees.

After departing the Point, follow the cobblestone beach around the harbor. Harbor Park is the green space and performance area on the harbor in downtown Grand Marais. It is a great spot to sit and skip stones and enjoy the lake and town. From the park, follow the sidewalk west through town, and at North House follow the paved path down along the harbor for the paved Lake Loop, or continue along the sidewalk/paved Gitchi Gami State Trail beyond the edge of town.

mile 99.8

This popular figure-eight trail brings you alongside the Cascade River with views of the falls before heading into a pine and birch woods. A short spur trail across the intimate Cascade Creek connects to the second loop where you veer north and make the final climb to the summit and wide open views of forested hillsides and valleys set off by the massiveness of Lake Superior.  To extend your hike, make sure you have the State Park map which shows all the intersections and options. I like this hike any time spring through fall.

mile 99.8

This is a quintessential mini-hike — it’s under a half mile, it’s a loop, there’s a footbridge over the river, include cascades and waterfalls, cedar trees and tiny wildflowers. All this from a pullover off the highway means it makes for a worthy hike year-round. Wear boots in the winter and bring a trekking pole to help on the icy areas. Spend your extra time at the river mouth, throwing rocks, watching the river current move into the lake and taking in the immensity of Lake Superior.

mile 90.5

Waterfalls, woods, wide-open vistas and an optional tram ride make this hike rather spectacular. For the downhill version, ride the tram over the Poplar River and up the east face of Moose Mountain. At the top, head to the chalet for 180-degree views of Lake Superior, the shoreline, and maybe on a clear, low-humidity day, the south shore of the lake.

Hill top trails [about a mile total] allow more perspectives on the lake views, and a stunning overlook gives 180-degrees northern views of maple hillsides, especially stunning in the autumn. From the top of the hill, take the Superior Hiking Trail down the ridge to the top of Mystery Mountain for another overlook, then into the woods to the falls of the Poplar River. After crossing the river, when you hit the gravel road, take it to the south to the main parking area at Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen Mountains. You can, of course, start here, hike up and hike/ride the gondola back.

You must purchase your tram ticket at the office / tickets are not sold at the Moose Mountain summit.

mile 86.1

While this is the trail to hike during autumn’s early season of maple colors, it is fantastic spring and summer, too. This trail begins with a spur, which connects to a loop around Oberg Mountain’s upper edge. Overlooks include views of adjacent LeVeaux Mountain, Lake Superior, the maple hillsides, and Oberg Lake. Enter the maple woods and hike under the canopy of birch and maple before you begin the 2-mile loop. Plan on a busy trail filled with happy hikers – the views will do that.

mile 86.1

The trail starts flat through brush across the Onion River and in to forest before beginning a 200′ switchback ascent to the top of LeVeaux [say “le vough”]. Take in northern views as you approach the small loop at the western edge. Take in southern views before descending back to the main trail.

mile 83.4

If you’re willing to hike up a hill, you”l be rewarded with views of the maple and pine covered hills rolling down to Lake Superior, which stretches for miles to the south. Hike under maple and birch canopy before stepping out on a large basalt overlook.

The trailhead is the hub for many hiking options: east to LeVeaux Mountain, west across the Sawbill Trail to the top of Carlton Peak, adjacent mountain cross-country ski trails, and/or bring your bike for the single track trails.

mile 78.8

First stop at the wayside rest to admire the center view of the Cross River Waterfalls. From the hiking trailhead on the Skou Road, amble through northern forests with views of the Cross River – imagine logs shooting downstream as the lumberjacks did.

To see Father Baraga’s Cross, drive the Baraga Cross Road south of Highway 61 for 0.25 miles to the parking area and follow the very short paved path.

mile 73.3

An excellent 1-mile interpretive hiking trail with a self-guided brochure. Mosey through pine plantations, and alder thicket, and along the cobblestone beach. Learn about log rafting and tree planting, appreciate a small overlook and take steps down to the beach. The last stop is the Visitor Center, an energy efficient lovely log building.

mile 68.2

Want to hike by yourself? This is the quiet North Shore State Park, 14 miles from Highway 61 and the bustle of the lake shore. You will find excellent, but moderate to more difficult hiking trails in the the deep woods with the Manitou River’s craggy valley.

I like taking the Yellow Birch Trail to Misquah, popping up the spur trail to the overlook, then following the river south to the first intersection and returning to Benson Lake along the Cedar Ridge Trail. After a picnic, take the Humpback Trail to the river and return on the Middle Trail, taking advantage of the short spur to another overlook. Bring water and bug spray. Enjoy the solitude.

mile 58.9

This hike is fantastic during fall colors, and great in the spring before the leaves pop. You will hike inland a mile, climbing in elevation. About the time you want to take a breather, there’s an overlook of Lake Superior – nice, but nothing compared to the view from the spur trail you take to the north. This narrow, windy trail can be slippery when wet, especially on the bare rock portions of the trail. The first overlook is outstanding, with 270-degree views all along the shore and inland.

Continue on around the exposed knoll to the north. After a short jaunt through pretty woods, you come to a northern overlook which overlooks distant maples hillsides while at your feet, the cliff drops away to a slough; breathtaking.

mile 58.9

One of my favorite medium hikes! The Tettegouche Lake loop is part of a trail system accessed on the back side of Tettegouche State Park. It begins with an old road bed climbing 285-feet over three-quarters of a mile, includes four overlooks and a dip down to the historic Tettegouche Camp [where cabins are available for rent]. I like to go counter clockwise from the junction and see the overlooks, then take a little break at the Camp where I decide if I am going to add on more loops or head back. In the autumn, consider the ‘circling the lakes’ as the valleys are filled with colorful maples!

mile 54.5

Big hills, big views and many options to hike including as a loop, a there-and-back or a point-to-point trail. No matter what, you will climb up to the ridge line and then follow it on the southwest sides of the lakes. Get this outstanding view down Bear Lake to bean, just before the trail splits for a small or large loop. If you do choose to continue on the Superior Hiking Trail, you will have wonderful views of Round Mountain, Mount Trudee and Raven Rock plus cross the footbridge over the High Falls of the Baptism River, making this one of the most picturesque sections of the Superior Hiking Trail.

mile 58.9

Crystal Bay is a little crescent of loveliness on calm days. The short, steep path contains loose rock and can be a slippery when dewy or after rains. You will see some old concrete blocks that were part of the original structures built in 1902 when (now global) 3M began their operations. The beach is small cobbled stone with one of Lake Superior’s largest sea caves to the north and cliffs to the south. You need a boat to get to the cave but can easily see it from the beach. On wild and windy days – especially during the gales of November – the nor’easters drive waves into the southern wall, making for mammoth crashing waves. This is safest viewed along Highway 61.

Park off the shoulder of the highway near mile marker 60 on the northeast side of Crystal Creek. Take the path on the right/south.

mile 58.5

Looking for unobstructed Lake Superior views, up close and personal? Hike out to Shovel Point. It’s quick, about a half-mile total, with multiple overlooks and some steps (may need to keep kids in hand here). Gaze straight out and take in the enormity of the world’s largest freshwater lake. Turn north to see Crystal Bay and south to take in the 200-foot high cliffs of Palisade Head. Return downhill, and invigorated, enough so you may want to pass the visitor center and scamper down to the river mouth, more quick trails.

mile 58.5

Great variety of trails; meander easier trails near the visitor center, or drive in to the park and spend a day [or more] exploring; follow the Superior Hiking Trail west from the campground for overlooks, then head north and traverse around Mic Mac and Nipisquit lakes before returning. See below for details on hiking to the waterfalls and from the Lax Lake Road trailhead.

**note the trail from the visitor center area to the falls has a lot of steps, so not the best for those with knee issues; instead, consider parking at the Superior Hiking Trail trailhead on Hwy 1 and hiking in [still some steps]

mile 53.7

Take in 270° views from three overlooks just off Highway 61. Follow the blue signs north into Silver Bay, then left up the hill. The first parking area has a short path to an aerial view of of the Cliffs Mining Plant, which gives the scope of the operation. A loop from the main parking area brings you to an overlook with panoramic shore and lake views well past Palisade Head to the northeast. A few steps later you are treated to a bird’s-eye perspective of Silver Bay from the big Lake to the ridge lines. The dirt path brings you back to the main parking area.

mile 46.0

Ever wonder where the vantage point is for this photo? It’s on a cobblestone beach off the Little Two Harbors Trail at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. Great for ambling about, this trail departs from the main parking area near the Lighthouse, includes a spur down to the old Pump House and Tram system, wanders through a birch woods, includes the nice stone beach of Little Two Harbors [the bay] and connects to the Day Hill Trail which climbs Day Hill. You can return back on the same trail anytime, or pick up the north loop, or park within the state park at the trail head and explore away!

mile 46.0

Take the easy accessible trail to the Visitor Center stairs to the Lighthouse. Then descend cliffside steps to Lake Superior and the Pump House. Trails traverse cobblestones beaches and adjacent forests; giving way to vantage points for viewing lighthouse. The Merrill Logging Trails crosses Highway 61 and meanders through the northern park forests.

mile 43.5

Split Rock rolls and bounces, cascading and tumbling to its mouth on Lake Superior. This hike, part of the Superior Hiking Trail, can be moderate to difficult due to elevation, length, and trail quality. While a lovely hike all summer long, a spring hike affords falls views that are obscured once trees have leafed out.

Part of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

mile 39.5

While it doesn’t meet the definition of a hike, the Gitchi-Gami State Trail is ideal for walking with strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, or those looking for a paved surface. The bonus in the summer is the cool breezes right off the lake; the downside is it can be downright cold if the wind is off the lake. The longest completed section is the 13.1-mile segment between Gooseberry Falls State Park northeast to the town of Beaver Bay.

mile 39.5

The beauty of of the park is steps from the Visitor Center, and sometimes on the way to the center, like these deer just off the path from the parking lot. A brief, paved, accessible path leads to the oft-photographed Middle Falls. Head south to view the Lower Falls or take a short accessible hike to the north, under Highway 61 that leads to the Upper Falls. This makes Gooseberry an ideal stop for everyone! Take advantage of the displays, restrooms and gift shop inside, then head to the river. The park has an abundance of inland trails, too.

mile 36.8

Short, steep and so worth it, this trail ascends out of the parking lot. After a series of switchbacks, the trail parallels the ridge and rewards you with a Lake Superior view. Continue on to Wolf Rock for amazing wide-open vistas of the lake. Continue on to Gooseberry Falls State Park, or turn around, enjoy the descent and head to your next short hike!

mile 39.5

bike rider on gitch gami bike trail along shore of Lake Superior between gooseberry falls and split rock lighthouose

Gitchi Gami State Trail

Difficulty: easy to moderate [length], by section below

Surface: paved

MN DNR Map of trail

Silver Creek
follows the old Highway 61 road bed where it wrapped around Silver Cliff; excellent views
Length: 0.5 mile one-way
Trailhead: Silver Creek Tunnel, NE end
Map

Gooseberry Falls to Beaver Bay
The Visitors Center trailheads offer parking, restroom facilities and drinking water. Restaurants, restroom facilities and other amenities are available in Beaver Bay.
Length: 14.6 miles one-way
Trailheads: Gooseberry Falls State Park, Twin Points Wayside, Split Rock Lighthouse, Beaver River Trailhead
Map

Beaver Bay to Silver Bay
trail runs parallel to the lakeshore inland along the side of the hill; starts east of Beaver Bay on West Road and ends at the Silver Bay Hockey Arena; does not connect to remainder of trail
Length: 2.3 miles one-way
Trailhead: Silver Bay Hockey Arena at 129 Outer Drive, Silver Bay
Map

Schroeder to Lutsen – 1 mile trail gap requires crossing Hwy 61
ride the 3-mile trail through Temperance River State Park, over the river and back to Highway 61, where the trail ends, but you can carefully cross the highway, ride your bike down Tofte Park Road, along the Lakewalk and then pick up the 7.4 mile roadside trail that ends in Lutsen at the bottom of the Ski Hill Road
Length: 10.4 miles one-way
Trailheads: Schroeder Wayside, Tofte Park & Ski Hill Road
Schroeder to Tofte Map
Tofte to Lutsen Map

now open – new 3.7 mile corridor trail from Cut Face Wayside Rest east to existing trail into Grand Marais

Cut Face Creek Wayside Rest to Grand Marais
Highlights include the Fall River waterfall and river mouth views from a new bridge at the midpoint of the trail, Lake Superior views, small rock cuts and the big hill into Grand Marais. see the video of the trail above
For the full there-and-back ride, choose to ride the big hill first [depart from Grand Marais] or ride the hill the second half [depart from Cut Face]. For an easier 5.2-mile total ride, take off from Cut Face and ride to the Fall River bridge, then return the same route.

Length: 5.2 miles one-way
Trailhead: Cut Face Creek Wayside Rest or downtown Grand Marais
Map

mile 111.1

Danger: do NOT ride on the Gunflint Trail!

This bike trail is a hilly road that was part of the original Gunflint Trail; wooded, clearings and the Iron Lake Campground 2 miles from the north end of the road makes this a nice picnic ride

Length: 4.6 miles one-way

Difficulty: moderate

Trailhead: Old Gunflint Trail

Surface: hard pack gravel road

mile 110.8

Danger: do NOT ride on the Gunflint Trail!

The quintessential ride through the forest; great for varying abilities. The Lima Mountain Grade is a forest service road through woodlands, open areas, over creeks and river, to lakes highlighted by berries, wildlife and a spur to Lima Mountain.
Park at Twin Lakes then ride north along the Lima Grade, east on South Brule and loop back south and end with a picnic or camping (rustic facilities) at the Twin Lakes camp area.

Length: 10 miles

Difficulty: easy to moderate [length]

Trailhead: Lima Grade to Twin Lakes Loop

Surface: hard pack gravel road

mile 110.5

Eagle Mountain to Lake Superior in Grand Marais

Follow US Forest Service and county gravel roads, paved roads and a bit of the Gitchi Gami Trail through the woods, past sloughs, under pines with a few Lake Superior Vistas. Some rolling hills with a rise of 354 feet but an overall descent of 1499 feet over 16.6 miles.
Park at the Eagle Mountain Trailhead, then ride up over the ridge then all the way down to Grand Marais, picking up the Gitchi Gami State Trail for the last 1.5 miles. Lovely ride on low-traffic road [watch for logging operations].

Length: 17 miles

Difficulty: easy to moderate / difficult if you ride it up hill

Trailhead: Eagle Mountain Parking [The Grade and Bally Creek Rd]

Surface: hard pack gravel road

mile 110.3

Seven narrow hard-pack trails intersect and climb the wooded hilltop overlooking Grand Marais and Lake Superior. The easy Pincushion Mountain Loop includes a small spur hiking trail to the summit. Test your skills on the advanced loops which connect to the intermediate loops.

Length: 20 miles

Difficulty: easy to advanced

Trailhead: 1 Pincushion Drive

Surface: hard pack and rock

mile 92.8

Ideal for casual bikers, this trail follows the Honeymoon Trail gravel road from east to west from the Caribou Trail to the Sawbill Trail through maple forests [great autumn ride!]. After a short ride down the snowmobile trail, you continue past Christine Lake, cross the Poplar River and begin the hilly part of the ride. When you finish, cool your feet off in the Temperance River.

For this point-to-point ride, you will need to get picked up/leaver another vehicle at the Temperance River Campground, 11.2 miles north of Hwy 61 on the Sawbill Trail.

 

Length: 10 miles

Difficulty: moderate

Trailhead: snowmobile trail parking, Caribou Trail

Surface: snowmobile trail, then gravel road

mile 87.3

Ideal bike trail for mountain bikers looking for quiet roads through the woods. This loop has the bulk of the 278′ elevation gain in the first half of the ride with a final climb on the south side of Pike Lake. Ride features boreal forests, rough road at the west end of Mark Lake, a beaver dam right next to the Mark lake Road and a nice break spot at the Pike Lake Public Access on the south side of the road.

Note: pay attention to the junctions; for the suggested clockwise route you head north on the Caribou Trail, east on 161/Mark Lake Rd, south on 157/Cascade River Road which become the PIke Lake Rd, a small jog north then west  on the Summer Home Lane then north and west on the Murmur Creek Road, returning south on the Caribou Trail to the parking area.

Length: 20 mile loop

Difficulty: intermediate to advanced

Trailhead: CJ Ramstad parking are on Caribou Trail in Lutsen [if you are coming from Grand Marais, consider parking at boat access area as a secondary trailhead]

Surface: gravel [with mud after rains] to low maintenance road

mile 83.4

Single-track mountain bike trails under old growth maples with varying changes in elevation. An easy [1.2-mile Short Stacker] Loop intersects with an intermediate [2.5-mile total Cross Cut] and advanced [3.8-mile total Skookum] trail from which you can add on the intermediate 1.5-mile Flume crescent.

Length: 1.2-miles and up

Difficulty: easy to advanced

Trailhead: Britton Peak Trailhead, Sawbill Trail

Surface: hard pack

mile 26.2

An easy paved path from the Lake Superior beach at Burlington Bay through Lakeview Park – playground across the street! – past the Two Harbors lighthouse/museum along Agate Bay beach where you can see the ore docks, ships, the Edna G tugboat, a huge steam locomotive, the Yellowstone, and the smaller 3 Spot engine with freight car and caboose. The path ends up at Waterfront Drive near shops, a brewery and restaurants. You can also park by trains and museum and use the west end as a trailhead.

mile 5.2

Watch for traffic on these routes! A one-mile-plus paved road runs through Brighton Beach, the first park northeast of Duluth, just past the Lester River.

A bike ride along Scenic 61 showcases Lake Superior and allows you to explore along the way. Stop for lunch, and pick up some delicious smoked fish.

Length: up to 19.5 miles one-way

Difficulty: easy to moderate

Trailhead: Brighton Beach, MM 5.2

Surface: paved

mile 28.6

stewart-river-north-shore-lake-superior

Mouth of the Stewart River

This designated trout stream is popular with shore-casters and has a spring steelhead run. The small dirt parking area opens into paths down to the river mouth and a view over a small cliff into the lake. The narrow river winds its way into inland forests. Loggers tried using the stream to shoot logs to the big lake, but it was too narrow and would result in . . . logjams.

mile 5.0

lester-river-shoreline

Wide Open Views

The mouth of the Lester River draws in fisherman, surfers, kayakers, visitors and locals. A small pull-off parking area on the lakeside of the road leads down to a ledgerock and cobblestone beach where you can gaze to the Aerial Lift Bridge, the south shore and up lake, getting a sense of the vastness of the largest freshwater lake in the world.

A seasonal visitor center is at on e end of the parking lot and a few blocks north Lester Park hosts a variety of year round trails to admire the river and waterfalls.

mile 1.5

leif-erikson-statue-duluth

1st Norwegian to Land in America

Leif Erikson is said to have landed in Nova Scotia in 1000 AD. A Norwegian Viking ship named after the adventurer arrived in the Duluth harbor in 1927, whereupon a local businessman purchased it on the condition it be placed in an existing park and renamed to honor the Norse explorer. While the ship is currently under renovation, the park includes the statue, a portion of the Lakewalk, benches, picnic tables and shoreline access to Lake Superior.

mile 130.0

boat access and small lake superior harbor

Horseshoe Bay

This sweet little bay is a Lake Superior safe harbor with a boat access; no amenities; pack out what you pack in.

mile 122.8

paradise beach cobblestones edge lake superior with a small island off shore

Paradise Beach

A nice stretch of cobblestone beach close to Highway 61 and just farther enough from Grand Marais to be less visited. Admire the view, search for agates, have a picnic; mo amenities so pack out what you take in.

mile 79.2

concrete father baraga cross on shore of lake superior

Father Baraga’s Cross

Take a moment to be grateful for safe travels. in 1846, Father Frederic Baraga set sail from La Pointe Michigan to an outpost on the North Shore. The wind picked up and waves battered the small boat. After a harrowing on the big lake, the missionary and his companions safely beached the boat at the mouth of the Cross River. In gratitude for their safe arrival, the priest erected a wooden cross on the beach. The current  symbolic cross has been placed in remembrance of his journey. It is a quiet stone beach.

mile 70.7

Caribou Falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls on the shore, in part because of the approach. From the wayside rest follow the spur trail [at the first bench, continue to follow the spur]. The trail climbs about 100-feet in a half mile before making a 90-degree turn to multiple flights of stairs [~150 in all]. A right hand turn after the first few flights opens to a cedar- and pine-framed view of the falls. It becomes more and more impressive as you get closer, and the gray basalt outcroppings are a striking frame to this 35-foot falls

mile 188.7

kakabeka falls ontario canada

Kakabeka Falls of Kaministiquia River

Wrap up your waterfall tour in Canada at the spectacular 40-meter/131-foot “Niagara of the North” which drops precipitously into a rock-walled canyon. Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is located in Ontario, Canada – you will need a passport to enter Canada/return to the USA.

mile 150.3

On the US/Canadian border, the Pigeon River drops 950 feet ending with the 120-foot drop High Falls, the highest you will find on the North Shore. This lower reach is particularly rugged until a short distance after the falls, where the river widens. An easy half-mile trail in Grand Portage State Park leads to the High Falls. The trail ends with two great viewing decks where you can feel the spray of the falls!

mile 124.0

Judge Magney State Park’s claim to fame is the Devil’s Kettle. Rumored to have no bottom this watery cauldron perpetually turns and froths. The hike up treats you to excellent vantage points of the Lower Falls before leading to where the river course splits. About half of the river’s water flow runs over the grand Upper Falls while the other disappears into the Devil’s Kettle. The river rushes in the spring, but to get the best perspective of the Devil’s kettle, plan a summer or autumn visit. Plan on 100+ stairs each way; about 2 ¼ miles total.

trail upgrade update

Devil’s Kettle Trail will be CLOSED Mondays-Thursdays June 1 through July from about 9am-6pm. This includes the through hiking section of the Superior Hiking Trail.

mile 107.3

New in 2021, the paved Gitchi Gami Bike Trail passes directly in front of the falls of the Fall River. Bike or walk a 2.6 miles west from downtown Grand Marais or 2.6 miles east from Cut Face Wayside. Features pretty rock cuts and views of the river mouth in Lake Superior.

mile 99.8

Ten miles above Highway 61 Cascade River begins its descent to Lake Superior. Dropping 900 feet in the lower three miles, the river takes a steep final run in the last quarter mile as it drops 120 feet through a deep, churning gorge. See the Cascade Falls and cascades on an easy loop that includes overlooks and a foot bridge with excellent views of the falls. The loop that includes the falls, cascades and bridge over the river is about 1/2 mile; you can extend your hike on either side of the river.

mile 86.6

Climb the wooden steps and hike above the river to view the cascades near the river mouth then continue another 1/2 mile to see the Stair Step Falls. Can only be seen before the trees leaf out and is best in spring when the river rushes. Easy to follow trail from parking at the Ray Berglund Wayside and Recreation Site.

mile 80.6

Temperance River has carved out some stunning gorges over which flow the Upper Falls, Hidden Falls, and Lower Cascades. To watch the Lower Cascades tumble into Lake Superior, follow the short easy loop on the lakeside of the highway [.25 mile total].

Tucked deep into the narrow gap, the river dives into a pool just above the roadside parking. Get a peek there before ascending stone steps to the cliffside overlook [not necessarily family-friendly]. The trail continues riverside over smooth rock outcroppings and through cedar stands to the High Falls. Less than 2 miles for all three waterfalls.

mile 79.0

cross river falls schroeder mn from hwy 61

Cross River Falls

You can’t miss this classic falls, Highway 61 rolls right by! Take advantage of handy pedestrian bridges for excellent vantage points of the 100′ falls as they roll down and under the roadway before making the final drop on the south side of the bridge.

mile 59.4

One of the shortest walks to a North Shore waterfall. This 40-foot beauty tumbles over a huge pine-topped rock ledge. During snow melt in the spring, and after rains, the falls spread wide across the entire ledge while the rest of the year it flows nonstop down the center. Limited [3-4 car] parking at pull-off on MN Hwy 1 [other parking is exclusively for cabin rental].

mile 58.7

The Baptism River has three waterfalls — including the highest entirely within Minnesota at about 70 feet — and three different trails. All three rush and roar during spring snowmelt and make for scenic hikes throughout the summer and autumn. The main trail is semi-strenuous uphill climb with lots of stairs. Just as you wondering if you are there yet, a tenth-mile spur trail brings a little relief and scenery at the attractive Two Step Falls. Carry on the final leg to king daddy High Falls which can be viewed from below [shown here], up top and via a swing bridge over the river. This 3-mile hike is all downhill on the way back.

Option to the High Falls: from the Superior Hiking Trail on MN Hwy 1; this trail is much flatter and half the distance. Very limited parking however.

A great leg stretcher is the 2-mile there-and-back trail from the Visitor Center to Cascade Falls (smallest of the 3 waterfalls).

mile 51.3

beaver bay silver bay north shore mn

Beaver River Falls

The river drops 300 feet in a series of cascades and falls above the Highway 61 bridge, then enters the sedate Beaver Bay. A wayside rest is located on the northwest corner of the bridge. It is a few steps to front-and-center views from the pedestrian walkway on the north side of Highway 61. Don’t want to stop? At least look out the window. This is one of to drive-by waterfalls on the North Shore.

mile 43.4

The Split Rock River waterfalls feels like you’re really out in the woods, but you can be there and back in a half hour. The hike starts on the west side of the river climbing a half-mile through birch forests to the falls tumbling 20 feet over grey rock into a rock-edged pool. You can turn around here [1+ mile total] or hike another three-quarter mile to an impressive red rock [rhyolite] gorge with 50-foot cliffs and twin red pillars. This is another point where you can turn around [2.6 mile total]. If you choose to continue you will see a few more waterfalls over the next 3/4 of a mile. At that point you have to cross the river [in the water] and pick up the high east trail which showcases wide open Lake Superior views.

Highlights: now two hikes, one up each side of the river, with the option of crossing during low water [most of the summer – but can flow after rains] to make it a loop; the west side trail runs above the river past rock cliffs, and on the east side you get river valley views and Lake Superior overlooks
Amenities: at state park 1 mile away
Length: 5 miles round-trip
Difficulty: moderate to more difficult [some steep grades]
Surface: hard pack with roots and rocks

mile 39.0

While the fifth falls is the smallest waterfall at Gooseberry Falls State Park, it is a nice walk through the woods through the woods. The Fifth Falls Trail runs north along the east side of the meandering river slowly climbing to the base of the falls. The path leads up across the river to a nice scenic overlook before returning south, and downhill, along the west side of the river in a mile loop. In the winter, a there-and-back cross-country ski trail leads to the same falls and scenic overlook.

mile 39.0

It’s a 4-for-1 waterfall stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park! Paved, accessible trails lead 1/10 mile from the visitor center to the most photographed of the falls, the expansive Middle Falls. The paved trails continue north under Highway 61 to a lovely view of the scenic Upper Falls. This wonderful little loop is a half mile total from the visitor center and back. The Riverview Trail heads south from the Middle Falls past the Lower Falls to the mouth of the Gooseberry River and Lake Superior. See the Fifth Falls entry for details on that hike. While quite spectacular during spring runoff, this quick-stop leg-stretcher is a must do on your North Shore visit.

mile 5.0

Amity Creek runs through Lester Park and you have two options to reach the narrow, picturesque Amity Falls. For a longer hike begin at the Lester Park parking area and hike a 1.5-miles to the northwest where you will come upon the base of the falls, my favorite view. Hike the short steep hill to cross the foot bridge and see the upper river view. To make this a short easy hike, drive north on Occidental Boulevard to the parking area and follow the path to the footbridge. It’s worth it to walk down the hill – and back up – to see the falls from below.

mile 5.0

Start your waterfall tour with a look-see over the Superior Street bridge at the Lester River Falls or park in the lot on the east side of the river, half a block north, and walk the creek-side trail. The northeast trail is a woodland walk with a series of small falls. See the Amity Falls for another option in this park. Best seen during spring run-off. Walks range from 0.2 to 3+ miles.

mile 146.6

The Mount Josephine Wayside Rest has a spectacular overlook with views of the Susie Islands below in Lake Superior and Isle Royale in the distance. Isle Royale National Park is part of Michigan. The area is open April through October, has picnic tables and outhouses, and is located on the lake side of Highway 61.

mile 111.3

St. Francis Xavier Church in Chippewa City is a beautiful reminder of a thriving village that was home to more than 100 families in the 1880s and 1890s. Famous artist, George Morrison, was born and raised here. The descendants of Chippewa City residents continue to honor their heritage and support the Historical Society in sharing the story of this village.

St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, known locally as the “Chippewa City Church” is one of the last physical remnants of a once vibrant community.

mile 109.1

The 35-foot fishing tug Neegee, or “friend” in Ojibwe, was completed in 1936 and used in Grand Marais through the 1950s. To learn about commercial fishing in that era, take the self-guided tour of the boat and fish house.

mile 43.5

Walk up the west side of the trail high above the river past rock cliffs. If the water is low, walk through the river and continue on the east side for river valley views and Lake Superior overlooks ending back at Highway 61. You can up and back either side of the river, too. There’s a nice cobblestone beach at the river mouth, too.

mile 51.3

Parking gets to be overflowing on busy summer days at the state parks, so start your bike ride in Beaver Bay. Park at the rest area near the river and ride 14.1 miles to Gooseberry Falls Park and back [same distance] with stops at the waterfalls of the Gooseberry River, Split Rock Lighthouse,  and the beach at Iona’s Scientific and Natural Area. Grab a a bite to eat after [or before] in Beaver Bay.

mile 39.5

Hop on your bike and ride from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. This gently rolling paved trail begins on Lake Superior’s shore, loops through the park and stays on the south side of Highway 61 before heading towards the lighthouse. Pass under pines and glimpse views of the big lake. The 8.5-mile one-way ride can be continued another 5.6 miles to the Beaver River in Beaver Bay. Return route is the same.

mile 26.2

Minnesota’s oldest continuously operating city band plays every Thursday evening in summer at 7pm. Bring a lawn chair and savor some small town fun. The bandshell is located within the Thomas Owens Park, a lovely little green space for letting the kids run, eating an ice cone, or having a cuppa.

mile 26.2

This global business started in the leased space of one of the founders, John Dwan, which now houses the 3M Birthplace Museum. The original concept in 1902 was to mine corundum, a very hard crystallized mineral, and sell it to grinding wheel manufacturers out East. But the mineral turned out to be something softer and the business was sold in 1905 and moved to Duluth. Stop by the museum to find out what happened.

mile 65.1

Area residents have restored, furnished, and replicated several buildings on this 40-acre homestead – home of the Finland Minnesota Historical Society – to preserve the history of white settlers to eastern Lake County. An old log structure from an adjacent homestead now serves as a sauna museum. The restrooms are housed in an old cabin from a nearby resort. The Park Hill School is back home after being moved to Finland in 1930 where it served as a town hall, and later as a teen center, and a gift shop. Lots to see and learn.

 

mile 53.7

A short drive from Highway 61 and two short paths lead to three wide-open views at the Silver Bay Scenic Overlook. Follow the blue signs into Silver Bay and up the hill. The first parking area has a short path to an aerial view of of the Cliffs Mining Plant. A loop from the large parking area brings you to an overlook with panoramic shore and lake views. A few steps later you are treated to a bird’s-eye perspective of Silver Bay from the big Lake to the ridge lines.

mile 109.1

Grand Marais is a very walkable town. Park out on Artist Point, follow the beach around the harbor, then take the covered bridge into the campground, wind your way through, skirting Lake Superior and conclude with a climb to Sweetheart’s Bluff. After an invigorating downhill return, you can walk the 3-mile round-trip paved Gitchi Gami trail west out of town to the cemetery and distant lake views before returning the same route.

mile 109.5

The Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery, a replica of the original late 1800s Johnson Trading Post, hosts local, regional, and national artists in revolving exhibits. The west wing is a permanent collection of original art by Anna C. Johnson, an early 1900s artist whose works capture the scenes from that era along the Gunflint Trail and along the North Shore.

mile 109.5

The Grand Marais Playhouse offers a Summer Repertory Festival each July through August as well as two Community youth plays held in December and April. In any given year, the Playhouse produces one-act plays, workshops, internships and fundraisers. Events are performed at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.

 

mile 151.0

Cross the border and spend some time in Canada [passport/approved documentation required to cross the border]. Thunder Bay is 36 miles over the border; along the way are the Middle Falls Provincial Park, shops and farm stands, Old Fort William, Kakabeka Falls. Canada is English-speaking, uses the same rules of the road, uses the metric system, has their own currency, and is in Eastern Time Zone, one hour ahead of Minnesota.

mile 150.8

It’s all about hiking to the 120-foot High Falls, but leave time for the exhibits, gift shop and interpretive signs in and around the Visitor Center, where you can learn about the culture and traditions of the Grand Portage Ojibwe people. Bring your camera.

mile 143.3

Learn about the alliance between the Grand Portage Ojibwe and the North West Company during the fur trade boom in the late 1700s. at the Grand Portage National Monument. Explore the reconstructed stockade and great hall, the visitor center, garden and grounds, Mount Rose trail and historic Grand Portage trail leading 8.5 miles inland to Fort Charlotte on the Pigeon River.

mile 123.8

The popular hike runs cliffside high above the Brule River. After a spur to the Lower Falls, make the final climb  to where the splits. The eastern flow tumbles over the High Falls while the western arm drops into the Devil’s Kettle, final destination unknown. The hike is within Judge C.R. Magney State Park.

mile 118.7

Relax, skip stones, and picnic on the beach. The there-and-back hike follows the Kadunce River with spurs to overlooks and pools. During the warm months of summer, when the water runs low, many locals hike up the river including climbing the waterfall.

mile -1

Hike to Magnetic Rock. This favorite 3.1-mile round-trip trail leads past a pond, through a blueberry patch, into a forest recovering from the 2007 Ham Lake Fire and up an easy ascent to this 60-foot magnetic rock. Test your compass at the top and then on your way out – see what happens!

mile -1

A hearty breakfast to get you started, happy hour on the deck, sunset over the lake for dinner; sound good? Plan a day on the Gunflint Trail with stops at shops and restaurants mid-trail near Poplar Lake, on the south side of Gunflint Lake, and near the end of trail.

mile -1

Picturesque Mink Lake is easy to get to, has a sandy swimming area, and a fishing pier. Cast for rainbow trout and splake [offspring of a male brook trout and a female lake trout]. Nearby Kimball Lake Campground has outhouses, camping and a hiking trail.

mile -1

Hop in your car and head due north on the Gunflint Trail! Drive up, up, up the hill to Pincushion Mountain overlook and take in the wide-open views of Lake Superior and Grand Marais. Continue on, admiring the virgin white pines at 9.5 miles, then stop at 24 miles, just past the Brule River [not South Brule River] for the 0.5-mile round trip Moose Viewing hike on the left/FR 316 is on the right]. Another 5 miles brings you to trail center shops and dining. Another 15 miles and you will be entering blueberry territory, then the final leg to end of the Trail Campground and Chikwauk Museum. 54 miles one way.

mile -1

Housed in the historic Chik-Wauk Lodge on beautiful Saganaga Lake, Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center presents the area’s cultural and natural history through interpretive and interactive exhibits. Learn about the Gunflint Trail’s prehistoric beginnings and people who helped shape today’s unique, rural community, including Native Americans, Voyageurs, miners, loggers, resort owners and current residents.

mile 109.6

Artist’s Point is the island and tombolo, spit of land, that makes up the east side of the harbor including the east breakwall and lighthouse; a drop of wilderness in the lake. So inspiring! Find picnic tables along the East Bay’s cobblestone beaches.

mile 109.6

Downtown Grand Marais is a three-block long strip centered around Harbor Park, a breezy sitting and gathering area leading to the cobblestone beach of the harbor. Shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries are clustered along Wisconsin Street and the side avenues stretching to and just inland from Highway 61.

 

mile 109.4

Pose in front of the original entrance to the Gunflint Trail, located on the north side of the highway near the library.  The Gunflint Trail is a 55-mile paved two-lane county road that ends at Saganaga Lake, on the U.S. – Canada border. You will find hiking, lakes to canoe-kayak-fish, resorts, and a cluster of shops and restaurants, especially at the mid-Trail point.

mile 109.2

The Gunflint Trail climbs 600 feet in the first few miles to a maple ridge line. At the top is Pincushion Mountain Overlook, a parking area with 180° views of Lake Superior. For the full circle view, make the 4-mile roundtrip hike to the top of Pincushion. This recreation area is criss-crossed with single track bike trails, hiking trails, cross-country and snowshoe trails. It is conveniently located three mile from Grand Marais.

mile 103.9

Heading northeast, just past Thomsonite Beach, Highway 61 curves left, revealing picturesque Good Harbor Bay, Seagull Rock, and, in the distance, Grand Marais. Use the pull of to admire the view and take photos. A quarter mile farther is Cut Face Creek Wayside, a nice spot for a picnic, an agate search, and skipping stones.

mile 109.2

North House Folk School engages in promoting and preserving the knowledge, skills, crafts and stories of the past and present. Classes, courses and programs are student-based and range from blacksmithing to woodworking, bread baking to weaving, timber-framing to basketry.

The campus offers a gift store, weekly tours, many events and programs and a complete catalog of courses. All on the shores of Lake Superior.

mile 109.4

At the Grand Marais Public Library visitors can enjoy a a paperback exchange, choose a book from Library Friends Sale rack, and use free WiFi, computers, reference sources and data bases, and the quiet reading room, and participate in special events. Open Monday through Saturday.

mile 109.4

Artists and creative seekers of all levels come from across the country to learn from renowned instructors, create art, and engage together in artistic inquiry. The Grand Marais Art Colony presents short entry points, artist talks, and exhibitions and courses and mentorships for advanced to novice artists. Adult, youth, and private group classes offered.

Clay, literary arts, photography, mixed media, painting, drawing, printmaking, book arts, sculpture, and jewelry, and mentor series.

mile 109.6

Those who have traveled and lived along the North Shore have been reliant on Lake Superior for food and – for many years – for transportation. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, lighthouses were built to mark treacherous reefs and to mark spots of refuge, like the Grand Marais Harbor. The lighthouse was built in 1884 and the Lightkeeper’s residence in 1896. Now home to the Cook County Historical Society, it is a museum with exhibits and archival storage.

mile 109.5

The Cook County Community YMCA  has a lap pool with a zero depth play area, water slide, whirlpool, sauna, weight and cardio rooms. Youth, adult and family day passes offered. Visitors welcome!

mile 109.5

Each year the North Shore Music Association sponsors and produces concerts, dances and workshops featuring artists as varied as Guy Davis and Shemekia Copeland, Rose Flores, Phil Heywood, Harpeth Rising, McInnis’ Kitchen and the Minetti Quartet. All events take place at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.

 

mile 99.8

Cascade brings the river to you. A quick jaunt up well-maintained trails brings you to overlooks and a footbridge spanning the cascades [ideal photo spot]. Picnic spots are a quarter mile farther along Highway 61. If you want to ski over the river and through the woods, Cascade has amazing cross-country skiing. Feel free to snowshoe anywhere, too.

mile 90.1

Share your sentiments under the canopy of the covered bridge over the Poplar River. While you’re choosing the ideal photo spot, check to see if anyone is fishing the river mouth. The bridge is part of Lutsen Resort and is open to everyone.

mile 86.5

Pull into the Ray Berglund State Wayside on the north side of Highway 61 between Tofte and Lutsen. Climb the wooden steps and hike above the Onion River to view the stair-step waterfalls. You get a much clearer view of the waterfalls in the spring before the trees green-up, but this is a nice quiet, one-mile hike any time of the year. Lakeview picnic tables are on the bluff near the top of the stairs. Fisherman take note, the Onion River is a designated trout stream. Everyone take note of the swanky outhouse, [seasonal].

mile 86.1

This perennial favorite, the Oberg Mountain Loop, starts off a short spur from the parking area and climbs at an angle up to western views down the shore, then panoramic Lake Superior views to the south, then northeast view up the shoreline, and finally northern views over Oberg Lake and the amazing maple-covered hillsides to the north. The trail meanders under maple and birch canopies, over bedrock slabs and can be steep at times. The loop is 2.25 miles total.

mile 90.5

Lutsen Mountains, the Midwest’s largest and tallest ski area offers alpine skiers and snowboarders 95 sweeping runs over four mountains. Non-skiers can enjoy slopeside views and amenities at two chalets. Spring, summer and autumn visitors can hike, bike, ride the gondola and alpine slide, and dine at the chalets.

mile 82.4

Donated by the eldest daughter, Elizabeth, of original European settlers John and Cecilia Tofte, Tofte Park features two cobblestone bridges and a cobblestone wishing well plus a picnic site and open shelter. Have a picnic, listen to the lake, hangout. Available for rental for weddings, reunions, gatherings.

mile 81.8

Get info about everything to do in the woods at the Tofte Ranger Station. Get permits and maps, ask about camping and trails, find out where inland lakes are located, see if any berries are in season, and ask about that bird you saw on the way by.

mile 80.4

Heartbreak Ridge is a top-notch fall color drive, and lovely drive through the woods any other time of year. Drive north on the Temperance River Road for 5.1 miles, then head east on the Six Hundred Rd [you’re on Heartbreak Ridge] 4.9 miles. Stop at the roadside sign and see how the ridge got its name. Return 5.5 miles down the Sawbill Trail to Tofte.

mile 80.4

Amazing river gorges that start a few feet inland from the highway, waterfalls, two foot-bridges, hiking, a cobblestone river mouth, camping and hiking. Hike a short way upriver to the amazing gorges, then return south of the highway and walk across the foot-bridge. During spring runoff or after rainy days, the river spray will mist you. Back in the day, this was the only river without a [sand] bar at the mouth, hence the name, Temperance.

mile 78.8

Highway 61 spans the Cross River mid-waterfalls. While the drive-by view is nice, stop and walk the pedestrian bridge, an ideal vantage point for photos. Back in the day, the John Schroeder Lumber Company would dam the headwaters of the Cross River until spring, then shoot logs downriver to Lake Superior, where they were bound into rafts and floated over to Ashland and Superior, Wisconsin.

mile 75

For thirty-one years Taconite Harbor was home to families working the adjacent Erie Mining loading dock and power plant. When mining took a downturn in the 1980s, the company cleared the town for a new venture. Follow the road south of Highway 61. On the right you will see the remnants of main street,  including a few street lights and the basketball court. The end of the road takes you to an outdoor exhibit explaining the taconite operation, a public boat launch, safe harbor, and views of the rusting ore docks.

mile 83.3

And how did they do it 100 years ago? Learn about commercial fishing, past and present, at the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum, where many artifacts from families’ of the original Scandinavian settlers are on display. Continue your education via plaques along the the lakewalk edging Bluefin Bay.

mile 78.7

From 1929 roadhouse, to manifestations as a general store gas station, post office, and sausage market, the Cross River Heritage Center now houses historical exhibits, a gift shop and visitor information, and many wonderful photos and details of logging in the area. One of the original Stickney Inn rooms has been preserved and is open to the public, too.

mile 73.3

Take a leg-stretcher along the 1-mile interpretive nature trail that departs from the parking area and includes a stop at Sugarloaf Cove on Lake Superior. The Interpretive Center has exhibits and artifacts from early logging operations in the area.

mile 65.2

At the crossroads of MN Hwy 1, the Little Marais Rd and the Cramer Rd, set in the picturesque valley behind the Sawtooth range is Finland Minnesota. A couple of restaurants, a couple of state parks, a couple of backroads, a couple of attractions. This is what a number of the small shoreline villages were like 25 years ago.

mile 62.0

Illgen City is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, two-business town at the crossroads of Hwy 61 and MN Hwy 1. By comparison, Little Marais bustles over its three miles with shops and lodging choices and the other entry/return point from Finland. Very friendly shopkeepers!

mile 60.0

Lift your glass to this mythical Finnish saint who is cherished for leading the grasshoppers away from vineyards’ grapes. This is the perfect stop for people looking for something out-of-the-way, and a little less known. While the wooden carving of St. Urho is many feet high, keep an eye out, a leafy tree semi-obscures the statue from the road. When you’re done taking selfies, have a bite to eat in town.

St. Urho’s Day is celebrated the Saturday closest to March 16th. Finland offers up a beauty pageant, a parade, music, food and fun.

mile 58.5

Spread over 9300 acres, Tettegouche is a handful of overlapping parks including Lake Superior coastline, Baptism River and falls, inland lakes, hardwood forests, rugged topography PLUS 24/7 restrooms, a café and gifts, and charming fireside indoor and outdoor seating. Something for everyone!

mile 57.0

Palisade Head is a lakeside cliff with a stellar sweeping outlook over Lake Superior and up and down its shoreline. In the summer, drive to the top along a a curvy tree-shadowed barely-two-lane road with limited parking and an occasional blueberry bush at the top. In winter, you can hike up the unplowed road. Stop at the Tettegouche State Park office for a permit if you wish to climb [gasp!] Palisade.

mile 53.7

Spacious slips for daily or seasonal rental, a picnic area, amenities in the marina shop, a short hiking path and a top-notch view of ships being loaded with taconite at Cliffs Natural Resources dock. The Silver Bay Marina plays host to the annual Salmon Classic fishing contest, too.

 

mile 54.0

The Silver Bay Library, part of the Arrowhead Regional Library system, is open to the public for browsing and reading. The Friends of the Library hosts a monthly book club, an ongoing book sale at the library [handy for visitor!] and an annual sale.

mile 60.0

Wolf Ridge, which sits on a spectacular 2000-acre site above Lake Superior, is internationally know for its top-notch outdoor learning and adventure programs. They offer multi-day family camps, summer camps, wilderness adventures, and grandparent/grandchild Road Scholars in addition to hosting school groups year-round. For a shorter experience, reserve a naturalist-guided half-day Split Rock Kayak Tour or drop by to explore the trails, overlooks, and educational displays.

mile 51.3

Stop by the new trailhead, check out the maps and make the short walk to admire views of the Beaver Falls, Beaver River, river mouth and bay. The river drops 300 feet in a series of cascades and falls above the Highway 61 bridge, then enters the sedate bay.

mile 50.3

line of shops and restaurants along a boardwalk in beaver bay minnesota

Beaver Bay

Enjoy the eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, then stop by the cemetery and pay your respects to legendary North Shore mail carrier John Beargrease.

mile 46.0

Split Rock Lighthouse is the most well-known visual representation of the North Shore. Have you been? The Lighthouse, part of the MN Historical Society, offers a guided tour of the lighthouse, fog-signal building, oil house and light-keeper’s house. The visitor center has gifts, exhibits and a brief video. Each November 10th, the beacon is lit at the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial.

The adjacent state park has trails, camping, and alluring forests running down to the shoreline.

mile 42.6

iona's cobblestone beach lake superior

Go to the Pink Beach

Drive right up to this expansive beach, Iona’s Beach Scientific & Natural Area, which is bookended by cliffs, rhyolite,  and bedrock to the north and basalt to the south. Nor’easters work away at the northern cliff, breaking off shards of the pink rhyolite and wash them down shore. Once home to Twin Points Resort, the area is named after longtime owner Iona Lind.

Scientific and Natural Areas [SNAs] are natural resources that are rare or of exceptional scientific and educational value.

mile 39.5

For many this is the first big stop on their travels.  This four-season park offers accessible trails to rushing waterfalls, plus trails to through the woods, along the river and to Lake Superior; naturalist programs, biking, fishing, fall colors, birding, skiing, plus shopping, exhibits, restrooms, and visitor info in a firelit lobby within the Visitor Center.

mile 34.6