Hiking Trails

Day Hill Hiking Trail

two photos of day hill trail

Within the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park lays the short but steep Day Hill Trail. A perfect hike if you are looking for some awesome elevated views of Lake Superior. It is one of the many trails that crisscross this state park. Known for being a perfect intermediate hike, Day Hill Trail provides some challenge for those who are looking for it but is easy enough for most to complete at their own place. The trail rewards those who overcame the steep hike with a gorgeous view and an interesting piece of history.

The trail starts in the parking lot and takes you behind one of the campgrounds as it winds upwards. The hike is 1.4 miles but features some more challenging steep sections. Make sure you stay vigilant for the overlooks and beautiful views of the surrounding valley.

Once you reach the top take a second to recover and enjoy the view of Lake Superior you earned. However, there is more the view there – a large chimney protrudes abruptly from the rock. There is a lot of history behind the chimney but you should figure that out yourself by making the trek yourself. Be sure to go there prepared with water and sturdy footwear!

Getting There: To get to the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, follow Highway 61 up the North Shore and look for signs reading “Split Rock Lighthouse”. View the park map here.

Eagle Mountain

two men sitting atop a mountain

Eagle Mountain is the tallest natural point in Minnesota at just over 2,300 feet! Located in the BWCA it is just Northwest of Grand Marais. Ironically it is extremely close, just 15 miles, from Minnesota’s lowest elevation point Lake Superior. The peak can be climbed year-round and affords spectacular views.

The hike to the summit is largely straight forward with some rocky and uneven terrain – making it an intermediate hike. The first two miles have relatively little elevation gain but feature plenty of muddy and bog filled terrain. Luckily there are more than enough boardwalks to keep your feet largely dry. After the first couple miles, the trail passes the shore of the scenic whale lake – a perfect place to stop and rest.

The top of the mountain features a large plaque on a rock that geologists believe to be over one billion years old(that’s more than 10 million times the average human lifespan)!  Bust out your favorite snacks and enjoy arguably one of the most scenic picnics ever.

Gitchi-Gami State Trail

child riding a bike in gitchi-gami state trail

When completed, the Gtichi-Gami State Trail will be an 89-mile paved recreation trail that spans the distance between Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Currently, 29 miles of the trail have been completed. These include segments between Two Harbors and Beaver Bay, Beaver Bay to Silver Bay, and some found between Tofte and Lutsen. Due to lack of funding, work on the trail was halted in 2012, but the Gitchi-Gami Trail Association hopes to continue work on the project soon.

For now, you can enjoy the completed sections of the trail for non-motorized activities. These include hiking, biking, jogging, and inline skating. A finished portion of the trail runs right between Chateau LeVeaux and Highway 61, giving you easy access to the Tofte to Lutsen segment.

One of the best parts of the trail is that it will connect five state parks, four scientific and natural areas, and several historic sites along the North Shore.
With continued development on the trail, as well as the widening of the shoulder on Highway 61, the North Shore is becoming a perfect destination for bikers to get out and enjoy a safe, scenic ride.

You can view a map of the completed trail sections here. For more information on the development and progress of the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail, visit the Gitchi-Gami Trail Association website.

Oberg Mountain Loop Hike

oberg mountain loop hike link image

The Oberg Loop is a spur trail of the Superior Hiking Trail located between the towns of Tofte and Lutsen. It is one of the most popular hikes in the area because of its incredible views of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake and the Sawtooth Mountains.

The loop is approximately 2.3 miles in length, round trip. When traveling the loop counter clockwise, hikers will first see an overlook of LeVeaux Mountain to the west followed by excellent overlooks of Lake Superior to the south. On clear days, hikers will be able to view miles of the North Shore. As the trail wraps around the top of Oberg Mountain, incredible views of the Sawtooth Mountains and Oberg Lake become visible.

The loop makes for a wonderful hike year-round. However, it is favored by many in the fall when the blazing orange and red maple leaves to the north and the yellow aspen and birch leaves to the south make the hills come alive with vibrant color. It is also an excellent time to spot migrating birds that funnel down along the shore of Lake Superior to reach their winter homes.

Getting There: From Tofte, go northeast on MN Highway 61 for almost five miles until you see the Onion River Road. Take a left and proceed up the road approximately 2.1 miles until you reach the parking lot.

Pincushion Trail System

three scenic photos of pincushion trail system

The widely variable terrain that Pincushion has offers miles of trails for hikers, bikers, skiers, fat bikers, and bird watchers alike. Plus the high vantage point offers a spectacular view of Grand Marais and the Harbor. For hikers, there are 15 miles of trail that wind back and forth through the woods allowing visitors to enjoy countless overlooks! Keep an eye out for all the varieties of tree that line the trail sides. Hikers can use the ski trails but must stay alert for skiers in the winter. Hikers are not allowed on the bike trails for the safety of riders and hikers.

There are over 8 miles of single-track riding that can be accessed straight from the parking lot. The trails boast a variety of difficulties from easy to hard and sometimes intersect the ski trails which can also be ridden on. Most of the trails are well built and maintained but tend to be on the more difficult end due to the bumps and rocks that cover most miles. However, if they are still too easy for you to try your hand at fat biking the trails in the summer or winter.

When the skies are blue and the sun is out Pincushion provides one of the most scenic views in all of Cook County. While you’re hiking, biking or skiing keep an eye out for all the wildlife that frequents the trails.

a man and his dog at pincushion

Getting There: Follow the Gunflint Trail/County Road 12 north (away from Lake Superior) from Grand Marais for 2.5 miles and turn right onto Pincushion Drive. You will find a parking lot and the trailhead about .25 miles down Pincushion Drive.

Sonju Trail in Two Harbors

sonju trail

This pretty little trail offers the perfect place to stretch your legs on a long trip north. The Sonju Trail weaves its way through beautiful tree groves on the rocky shores of Lake Superior. It’s a local favorite and not visited by enough of the visitors and passersby’s.

Take a break at one of the many rest stops and listen to the waves crash against the rocky shore. You will be rewarded by the spectacular views of North Shore’s wilderness only a stone’s throw from Two Harbors.

Keep an eye out for the deer that frequent the path as an easy route of travel. There is plenty of other wildlife in the area as well so stay vigilant and you could spot any number of animals from bear and moose to squirrels and rabbits.

The development of the town is beginning to threaten the trail because it is so close to town. Be sure to check out the Sonju Trail before it’s too late!

Getting There: In Two Harbors, turn right off Hwy 61 onto Waterfront Drive/6th Street. Follow the brown signs directing you to the breakwall at Agate Bay. Look to your left and find the arched passageway that marks the start of the trail.

Temperance River Gorge Trail

temperance river

Have you ever wondered what the source of the Temperance River is and how it became so powerful? Or, how the beautiful cauldrons were created along the walls of the river canyon?

temperance state park

The river’s source is Brule Lake. It originates in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and has been paving the river’s way for quite some time. Since the river swirls mightily along the way, water and debris have carved impressive potholes into the ancient rock along the canyon walls. They make for an exceptionally beautiful hike along the river.

No matter which trail you take in Temperance River State Park (if you are beginning your hike from Highway 61), you will follow the miniature canyon carved out of solid rock. The gorge was cut away over thousands and thousands of years by the relentless water.  The canyon, which is surrounded by towering cedars and pines, is spectacular both at its base and from above, so taking short climbs to the top of the canyon has its benefits.

Getting There: The Temperance River gorge and trails are located just over a mile northeast of Schroeder on Highway 61. Park in the designated parking spaces near the Temperance River bridge on either side of the highway. Follow trails inland (away from Lake Superior) to follow the river gorge and see many waterfalls, including the Hidden Falls. Hike toward Lake Superior to view the Temperance River lagoon, the mouth of the river and Lake Superior.

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