The two bearded guys strode swiftly down the trail under the weight of fully-loaded packs, the trekking poles in their hands clicking off the stones.
They looked like they meant business.
I bumped into Tim and Jared (almost literally) while doing my weekly long run along the Cross River section of the Superior Hiking Trail.
I had seen them a couple of hours earlier at the on the Gitchi-Gami bike trail near the Temperance River, and they had managed to throw down some serious mileage in that time.
“How far are you guys going?” I asked.
“Were going all the way,” was the reply.
It turned out that the two hikers were doing all 296 miles of the trek from the Canadian Border to Jay Cooke State Park – just south of Duluth. The Superior Hiking Trail sees plenty of these “thru-hikers” from late spring to early autumn. Tents are already sprouting up on the camp areas along the route.
Tim and Jared’s trip is special; they are looking to go the whole distance in nine days. That meant that they would have to log 30+ mile days for every day of their hike. Not a lot of downtime there.
When I saw them near the Cross River, Tuesday, they were only on their fourth day on the trail since Canada. They were making good time so far, but had plenty of miles left on their journey.
Tim and Jared’s adventure – documented on this website: https://sht.moremilesmorefun.com/ and on Facebook – is one of the more extreme ways to experience the Superior Hiking Trail, but there are plenty of other, lower key options. Bluefin Bay is an excellent start point for those who’d like to knock out a section of trail but have a comfortable bed and a sumptuous dinner waiting for them at the end of the day.
Our shuttle service for guests allows you to visit some of the most scenic sections of trail. We will drop you off anywhere between Sugar Loaf Road and Lutsen Mountains, and that includes giving you the option of leaving your vehicle somewhere on the trail so that you can do a point-to-point hike (we shuttle you to your vehicle and then to the place where you want to start walking.)
Some of the most popular hikes on the trail include:
1. Oberg Mountain to Britton Peak (5.7 miles): The trail winds beneath the cliffs of Leveaux Mountain and offers hikers a chance to tackle a steep climb to the scenic ridgeline via a spur trail. There is also the Onion River and a large, peaceful beaver pond along the way. A climb to Cedar Overlook is another place to get a lake view and is a shorter hike than Leveaux.
2. Britton Peak to Temperance River (4.8 miles): This is the extra-credit way to tackle Carlton Peak. The trail from the Britton Peak parking lot off the Sawbill Trail winds past the beautiful Ted Tofte Overlook and the Carlton Peak Summit, which are accessible via short spur trails that are well worth the extra hike. The trail going down the west side of Carlton Peak is less travelled and takes you beneath massive rock formations towering overhead, including a large cave that you can walk inside. The hike ends at the Temperance River, with its awe-inspiring canyon and waterfalls.
3. Temperance River to Cramer Road (8 miles). This is another less-traveled section of the trail, which offers quiet beauty, dramatic rivers and long views. Starting along the banks of the surging Temperance River, the trail then climbs steeply up a ridge, affording a handful of scenic lookouts over Lake Superior. The trail descends again to the banks of the Cross River. Though it’s no Temperance, the rapids on the Cross River are impressive, and there is plenty of room to admire them in solitude. If you had visited this area a century ago, you would have been able to see logs floating downstream from the old timber operations.
After the trail follows the Cross River for about a mile, it climbs up through the forest to Boney’s Meadow, where the trees open up and you can see the blue sky. This is a great place to look for birds or even moose. There are a couple more overlooks before you get back to your car on Cramer Road and drive back to Bluefin for some well-earned rest and relaxation.
These sections of the trail offer plenty of room for solitude, nature appreciation and exercise. Because they are in the wilderness, you will want to make sure that you have plenty of water, food and appropriate clothing. If the weather turns while you are out there, you will want to have something waterproof in your pack. Ditch cotton clothing for synthetic-wear like fleece or polypropylene. Keep in mind that you will probably have muddy feet by the end of the day. Make sure to grab a map from Activities before you head out.
If you have any other questions about trails, conditions or fun adventure ideas, swing by Guest Services and ask. We’d be happy to help out.
Tom Fagin, Activities