The Pack Report

The Best Hiking Trails on the North Shore

We’ve covered the best destinations for camping or hiking throughout the United States, but this time we are focusing on the region that gave birth to our company, the region that we all know and love, the iconic North Shore of Minnesota. Minnesota’s North Shore – that stretches for 145 miles – is a collection of small towns, state parks, endless hiking trails, and must-stop restaurants and shops which encompass the best combination of relaxation and adventure. No two trips will ever be the same, and to give you an outline, we have provided the best trails to hike along the North Shore. So, grab your gear and get to these top destinations for hiking!  

Split Rock River Loop – Split Rock Lighthouse State Park  

This trail begins at the parking area right off Highway 61 and follows the river upstream for a couple of miles. The rough trail on this popular section of the Superior Hiking Trail heads by many waterfalls and has a magnificent lake view at the east end. This trail has sections that are hilly and rocky, so don’t forget to wear good hiking shoes. While beautiful any time of the year, it’s especially gorgeous in the fall.  

High Falls of the Baptism River – Tettegouche State Park 

High Falls is the highest waterfall that is completely within Minnesota’s borders, and it is absolutely beautiful. The 3-mile out-and-back hike to High Falls begins at the visitor center parking lot. You will walk down the park towards the Baptism River and take the trail under the highway bridge heading inland. This trail will take you to the cliff of High Falls, and from this vantage point, you are above the waterfall, looking down at the rushing water with a backdrop of the steep canyon wall on the other side. It is quite an amazing view, especially in the winter with the ice-covered falls!  

Temperance River – Temperance State Park  

Pull off into one of the parking areas along Highway 61, and the trail up the river gorge, as well as the gorgeous views, begins here and heads away from the lake. The hike itself is short, but it’s so breathtaking you won’t want to rush it! There are a handful of overlooks along the river before it climbs up a bit to the top, where the river widens with a beautiful view of the river valley. This trail is especially popular among children due to its inclusion of some fun rock scrambling/climbing if you choose.  

Carlton Peak  

Carton Peak is Minnesota’s second-highest point at a whopping 1,526 feet. The 3-mile trail gets quite steep and vigorous as you approach the summit so good knees and a good pair of hiking shoes are a definite plus. To get to the trailhead, take Highway 2 off 61 in Tofte and drive up a couple of miles. Part of this trail winds its way through a birch and aspen forest along moss-covered rocks with peeks through the trees to the Sawtooth Mountains surrounding you; it’s quite breathtaking! As you are near the summit, you will see that it gives you spectacular, open views of Lake Superior.  

Oberg Mountain  

The Oberg Mountain Loop hike is considered to be Minnesota’s best fall color hike by far. It’s loaded with stunning maple trees (yellow and orange if seen in the fall) and overlooks the surrounding Sawtooth Mountains. What makes this trail so spectacular is the several overlooks, all with amazing views of Lake Superior and Oberg Lake. It’s relatively easy as well, just 1.5 miles altogether. Take Onion River Road off Highway 61 between Tofte and Lutsen and drive up a couple of miles to the parking area on the left.  

High Falls of the Pigeon River – Grand Portage State Park  

This easy and paved hike along the Pigeon River to one of Minnesota’s astonishing waterfalls. 130-foot High Falls thunders down among the trees and dramatic rock cliffs. The hike to the falls is just a mile round-trip, although another 3 miles upriver is Middle Falls, which is a more demanding hike if that is what you’re looking for. Grand Portage is an amazing destination to visit and has an abundance of beautiful lodges to stay overnight in.  

There are so many great trails along the North Shore, and it’s hard to pick just one or two! Whether you live within a few hours’ drive and are looking for a day adventure, or you’re visiting the state and want to make a vacation out of it, we promise that you will enjoy the adventure that these hiking trails have to offer. We recommend on your next hiking adventure to choose the top-selling Made in the USA Duluth Pack Scout Pack to assist you on your journey.  

Happy adventuring, friends!  

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