Exploring the Minnesota North Shore
The Minnesota North Shore is the expanse of coastline spanning over 150 miles that starts in Duluth and continues along Lake Superior into Ontario. Over 3 million people visit the Northshore every year, and it's not hard to see why. There are state parks, hiking trails, historical sites, and scenic towns all along the path that are great for any hiker, camper, or canoer to stop and explore. Be sure to make a day or weekend out of the experience, as it's easy to fall in love with the scenery, so packing smart is a must if you're going to stay a bit longer. Let's go over some of the sights that make the North Shore one of the best hiking trips you'll ever experience.
Aside from the starting city of Duluth (which is a must-stop of course), there are dozens of spots to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of the state. The first major must-see is Two-Harbors. At 24 miles from the start, Two Harbors features the only real working lighthouse on the North Shore. It also has the Sonju trail, which allows you to see an ore ship being loaded.
Gooseberry Falls State Park is the next major stop on the journey. At 39.5 miles down the shore, this park is one of the most visited state parks in all of Minnesota. As its name suggests, it is home to a beautiful series of natural waterfalls you can walk right up to. Be sure to grab your water shoes for this one! Even seeing the frozen falls in the winter is worth the trip up.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is home to one of two lighthouses on the Northshore. Though decommissioned in 1969, it is now a historical landmark. The lighthouse was built in 1910 after a disastrous series of shipwrecks in 1905. It is now a major tourist location and has been transformed into a B&B. The park also gives access to one of the rarer loops of the Superior Hiking Trail, making it perfect for those willing to visit on their hiking trip. Be sure to remember to stay hydrated on all your trips, especially while hiking!
Less than 10 miles from Split Rock is Silver Bay, home to the black beach. There is an 11 mile stretch of the Superior Hiking Trail to Highway 1 at this stop; it is considered the most difficult and scenic section of the entire trail with plenty of stops and sights along the way. This is a perfect opportunity for those who are looking for a challenge and are willing to camp in some of the more secluded areas.
Tettegouche State Park is Right up the coast of Silver Bay. This park has some of the most amazing views that the Northshore has to offer. This park has cliffs overlook the lake as well as a series of rivers and trails as you go inland. This spot makes you feel as if you're on the coast overlooking the ocean rather than in Minnesota. It also presents an opportunity to do some rock climbing so don't forget some climbing salve to help your grip!
You can't talk about the Northshore without mentioning Grand Marais. This harbor town places itself right before you reach the BWCAW and has everything a traveler could want. Restaurants, shops, and an array of festivals throughout the year make this town a staple for Northshore travelers. Since this community is considered the last major mark before the BWCAW area, there is no shortage of hiking, camping, or canoeing options nearby.
These are just to name a fraction of stops along the Northshore. There are scores of trails, campgrounds, and sights along the way. Getting where you want to go is one thing, but figuring out what you'll need once you arrive is just as important. At Duluth Pack, we can help you prep for your hiking trip by providing goods and services such as pack rentals, expert insight, and more!
Are you looking for inspiration for outdoor adventures? To follow us @duluthpack on social, go to our website at www.duluthpack.com, stop by our store at 365 Canal Park Drive, or call us at 1-800-777-4439.
Happy exploring, friends!