We’re certain that it would take a person years to really take every hike that the North Shore has to offer. Each trail in the area seems to have something unique and beautiful about it, whether it be the terrain that the trail covers, the waterfall that it passes or the beautiful overlooks that it leads to. Since you likely don’t have years to devote to exploring each and every hiking trail along the North Shore, we’ve picked out the top hiking routes that you need to check out when you’re in the area.
Gooseberry Falls Hike, Two Harbors
Take the one-mile handicap accessible hike in Gooseberry State Park to the iconic main falls. The trail leading to these falls was recently voted as the best fall hiking trail in Minnesota. Hikers will find smaller crowds at the popular falls during the morning or late afternoon hours.
To reach the state park, follow Highway 61 northeast of Two Harbors for 13 miles until reaching Gooseberry State Park. Park by the visitor center and follow the trails from the parking lot past the visitor center to the falls. There are many other great trails worth exploring in the park, as well.
Split Rock River Loop, Two Harbors
What makes this loop noteworthy is the unique red rhyolite rock towers that are found near the boundary of the park and the beautiful overlook of Lake Superior and the river valley on the east side of the trail. While you’re hiking, keep an eye out for a peregrine falcon. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is home to some of these once almost eradicated birds. Access the trail from Highway 61 northeast of Two Harbors at mile 43.5. Park on the left side (opposite of Lake Superior) of the highway in the designated parking area. Then, follow the trail from the parking lot inland (away from Lake Superior).
Twin Lakes (Bean and Bear) Loop, Silver Bay
This challenging loop trail goes up and down three maple-covered ridges where hikers will find spectacular views of Bean and Bear Lakes at the top. It can be accessed from two locations: From the Penn Boulevard trailhead outside of Silver Bay for a 6.8-mile hike or from the Silver Bay Visitor Center located on Outer Drive for a 7.6-mile hike. Both will bring you to the Twin Lakes Loop.
High Falls to Two Step Falls, Silver Bay
View the 60-foot High Falls and Two Step Falls of the Baptism River on a difficult two-mile round-trip hike through Tettegouche State Park. Start at the trailhead in the park where the path will lead you to various overlooks of the High Falls, including one from a suspension bridge. Trails also give hikers the option to reach the base for a unique view of the falls. From the High Falls, hikers can continue their hike to the Two Step Falls. As its name suggests, the fall has two drops. Both split and fall into a pool below.
Shovel Point, Silver Bay
Take the half-mile trail from the Tettegouche visitor center down Shovel Point to see many breathtaking views of the lake-side cliffs, sea caves, and inland bluffs. Once hikers reach the end of the out-and-back trail, they will see views of Lake Superior’s seemingly endless shoreline that will leave them awestruck. To access the trail from the visitor center, head toward Lake Superior and follow the trails that lead to the left.
Temperance River Falls Hike, Schroeder
Hikers can see many beautiful waterfalls, pools, gorges and river potholes by hiking north (away from Lake Superior) from the parking area along Highway 61. Hike as far as you like up the trail for views of the Temperance River cascades. Heading toward the lake is also worth doing, although the trails are short. It gives visitors the opportunity to see the crashing waterfall that tumbles downstream under Highway 61, as well as access the mouth of the river and Lake Superior.
Oberg Mountain Loop, Tofte
The Oberg Mountain Loop is one of the most popular hikes on the North Shore, and rightly so! The two-mile loop circles the top of the mountain and brings hikers to a number of lookouts with spectacular views of LeVeaux Mountain, Moose Mountain, Oberg Lake and the Lake Superior Shoreline. Hike the loop counterclockwise for increasingly dramatic views. To access the trail, drive to the trailhead parking lot two miles north of Highway 61 on the Onion River Road.
White Sky Rock, Lutsen
Take the short but challenging one-third-mile hike from Caribou Trail to see a spectacular view of Caribou Lake and the surrounding Sawtooth Mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous, continue on the Superior Hiking Trail west to pristine Lake Agnes. There’s something about the shape of the lake and the beautiful overlooks that make this one of our favorite hikes any time of the year. To get there from Lutsen, take the Caribou Trail north for 3.9 miles. Park in the parking lot located on the right-hand side of the road near the boat ramp. After parking, cross Caribou Trail and begin the hike up the Superior Hiking Trail spur trail to White Sky Rock. Hike to the right when the trail forks.
The out-and-back trek up Eagle Mountain, Minnesota’s highest peak, is difficult, but worth it! The hike is seven miles round-trip and will bring you to places with spectacular views. It will take you past Whale Lake which is located halfway along the trail. From the peak, you’ll also be able to view Lake Superior. Since two-thirds of the trail lie within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, you’ll need to get a self-issued permit at the entry point before you begin hiking.
To get there from Lutsen, drive east (toward Grand Marais) and take a left onto Caribou Trail (County Road 4). Follow Caribou Trail until it ends. Turn right onto FR170. Drive 3.5 miles to the Eagle Mountain Trailhead. Park in the parking lot on the left-hand side of the road.
Honeymoon Bluff, Gunflint Trail
This short half-mile trail takes hikers 200 feet above beautiful Hungry Jack Lake. Since it is so short and the view is so great, hikers may feel like they’re cheating. Begin the hike on Clearwater Road (County Road 66). To get there from Grand Marais, take the Gunflint Trail for 27 miles and turn right onto Clearwater Road (County Road 66). Drive 3.25 miles.
Devil Track River Hike, Grand Marais/Gunflint Trail
This trail is known for its red cliffs and waterfalls. To access the trail, drive four miles east of Grand Marais on Highway 61 and turn left onto Lindskog Road. Drive one mile to the trail.
Devil’s Kettle Hike
Hike along the Brule River in Judge C.R. Magney State Park to view the Upper, Devil’s Kettle and Lower Falls. Devil’s Kettle Falls is the most well-known of these three falls. The falls split in two with one side heading downstream and the other into a deep mysterious hole. No one knows where the water in this hole goes. The hike to the falls is moderate in difficulty and requires hikers to ascend/descend 200 stairs. Judge C.R. Magney State Park is located about 14 miles northeast of Grand Marais. Begin the hike at the state park’s main parking lot.
Grand Portage High Falls Hike, Grand Portage
Take this easy one-and-half mile trail and boardwalk in Grand Portage State Park to Minnesota’s highest waterfall. Pigeon River’s 120-foot falls is known by many as Minnesota’s Niagara. The trail can be accessed from the visitor center in the state park.
Did you know that the Minnesota State Park system has a hiking club that features 68 hiking trails scattered in state parks throughout Minnesota?
All you need to do to join the club and to earn rewards along the way is to purchase a hiking club kit. They can be purchased for $15 at most state parks, at the DNR License Center, or over the phone by calling 651-259-5600. Inside the kit is a passport which will be used to track progress.
- You will receive a colorful patch for hiking 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, and all miles.
- Every 25 miles you receive a patch/pin
- Every 100 miles you get a voucher for free camping
- After all park miles are complete you get a plaque stating that you have hiked all the miles in Minnesota State Parks and a voucher for a free night of camping
We recommend dressing appropriately for each hike. Proper footwear and clothing are very important in preventing injury and ensuring that you have the best experience. When hiking make sure you remember to bring water, to stay hydrated. The beauty of the landscape can sometimes detour you from remembering to drink water, so we like to incorporate the WBS “Water Buddy System”. Before you start each hike, make sure you verify the trail you will be traveling. This ensures that you know your location so you don’t get lost, and also that you can find the trail password.
While hiking make sure you slow down and appreciate all the beauty. We can sometimes get going too fast in life and forget to look around. One of our favorite quotes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off states “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” (Cameron Frye) and this couldn’t be more true. So make sure you slow down, enjoy the nature…and collect your passport stamps!