Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota

The Superior Hiking Trail follows the ridgeline above Lake Superior in Minnesota. Hike sections of the trail on day hikes or backpack the whole length. It’s a beautiful place to explore in any season. Here are some tips for visiting Minnesota’s North Shore and hiking the Superior Hiking Trail.

The Superior Hiking Trail starts at Jay Cooke State Park south of Duluth and continues all the way to the Canadian border. The trail is more than 300 miles long and also includes offshoots and spurs to explore places along the route.

Day Hikes on the Superior Hiking Trail

Most people hike the trail in sections on day hikes. It is very easy to do. Just pick a section and get walking! There are 53 trailheads along the route with parking lots every few miles where you can leave a vehicle for the start or end of your walk if you’d like to only walk in one direction. Of course you can also just hike sections of the trail round trip. Check out these guidebooks for more information about the trails.

There is also a useful Superior Shuttle service that operates along the trail. The shuttle can take you, your companions and even your dog from trailhead to trailhead. Start your journey at your vehicle and then take the shuttle back to your car at the end of the hike. Or start with a shuttle ride and hike back to your vehicle.

You’ll also find State Parks, National Forests, lodges and towns along the trail where you could stop for the night, although this might require a detour from the trail or use of a vehicle. Some people combine the Superior Shuttle and their own car or you could also use taxis or Uber services to get around.

Backpacking and Thru Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail

Most backpackers start south and make their way north toward Canada, keeping the lake on their right side as they hike. Of course you could also do the opposite, or backpack only a section of the trail. In fact, it may be easier to hike south as you are heading toward areas of higher population and it might be easier to arrange transportation and replenish supplies as you move south. Check out these guidebooks for more information about the trails.

There are 93 free backcountry campsites along the trail and you’ll find them every 5-10 miles or so. There are also State Park campgrounds but you may need advance reservations. You could also detour from the trail and stay at hotels and lodges near the route.

Be sure to bring supplies to protect you from the weather conditions. Depending on the time of year you might encounter humidity and insects, snow, rain or heat. Also bring a water filtration device and something to hang your food supplies while camping.

When to Hike the Superior Hiking Trail

Many hikers say that early fall is the ideal time to do this trail and I’d agree, the changing colors of the leaves add something very special to the views and the weather is usually lovely.

Even in the summer weather conditions can be challenging with lots of bugs and humid conditions. Make sure you are prepared with proper gear for the conditions with rain gear, insect repellant, water filtration device if camping, and a good trail map.

In hunting season be sure to wear blaze orange.

Winter can be magical on the Superior Hiking Trail when it is covered in snow. Strap on your snowshoes and go exploring.

For more information, check out the Superior Hiking Trail Association website.

Enjoy your hikes! You might also like our guide to waterfalls along the North Shore and where to explore, eat and sleep on fall leaf peeping trip to the area.


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