The Superior Hiking Trail, also known as the SHT, is a 310-mile long hiking trail in northeastern Minnesota overlooking Lake Superior. The rocky trail winds through forests of birch, aspen, pine, fir, and cedar trees with hidden lakes and waterfalls along the way. The trail’s intended use is for foot travel only with established campsites.
|Event Name||2022 Dates||Fee||Registration|
|Superior Hiking Trail Lodge-Based Hike and Explore|
- 3 Days: Trip Fee $695
Dates & Details
About the AreaThe Superior Hiking Trail, a 310-mile footpath, largely follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior on Minnesota’s North Shore from Duluth to the Canadian border. Trailhead parking lots appear every 5-10 miles, making it ideal for both day hikes and backpack camping.
At its lowest point, the Superior Hiking Trail goes along the shore of Lake Superior, 602 feet above sea level. At its highest point the Trail climbs 1750 feet above sea level and more than 1000 feet above Lake Superior. The Trail includes ascents to rock outcroppings and cliffs, and descents into numerous river and creek valleys crossed by attractive and functional bridges. The Trail provides abundant panoramic overlooks of Lake Superior, the Sawtooth Mountains, and inland woodlands, lakes, and rivers along the length of the Trail. At many points, the Trail follows rivers and creeks, often for distances of a mile or more, showcasing waterfalls and rapids, bends, and deep gorges where rushing water from thousands of years has cut into layers of ancient volcanic rock.
The Superior Hiking Trail begins in Duluth, Minnesota and ends just before the Canadian border. The first documented through-hiker of the Trail was Paul Hilna in 1995. Paul raised pledges for the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) and Wilderness Inquiry as he hiked the length of the trail with crutches.
The first people to enter the North Shore region arrived around 10,000 years ago. These Native Americans, called Paleo-Indians, entered the region during the final retreat of the Wisconsin Glaciation. Many waves of Indian people inhabited the North Shore prior to European contact. The early Europeans, French explorers and fur traders, first reached the Lake Superior country about 1620. At that time, the Ojibwe (Anishinabe) inhabited only the eastern end of the lake as far west as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. By 1650 the French had encountered the Dakota, or Sioux, who lived at the head of the lake near Duluth. Along the North Shore lived the Assiniboine and the Cree, who later moved farther to the west and north.
By 1780, the Europeans had established fur trading posts at the mouth of the Saint Louis River and at Grand Portage. The Ojibwe firmly controlled the western end of the lake and northeastern Minnesota by this time. In 1854, the Ojibwe signed the Treaty of La Pointe, which opened up northeastern Minnesota to mineral exploration and white settlement. The first permanent white settlement — a group of Germans from Ohio — occurred at Beaver Bay in 1856. The late 1800s saw a rise of commercial herring fishing along the North Shore, and it was said that nearly every cove harbored at least one fisherman’s shanty.
Trails and Terrain
Many beautiful waterfalls bless the North Shore, including several that give the name to the Cascade River. The abundance of waterfalls resulted from both the profound erosion of the Lake Superior basin by the great Ice Age glaciers, which led to the steep slope of the North Shore, and the occurrence of hard igneous rocks underlying the coastal zone. The fast-running rivers have eroded the softer bedrock to form the deeper parts of the gorges. However, the bedrock has some harder parts that resist erosion, leading to falls and cascades. Many of the falls on the Cascade River represent individual basalt lava flows.
Three main habitats exist along the Superior Hiking Trail, the Northern Hardwoods group, the Boreal Forest group, and the Border group. Components of each of these forest groups exist side by side in a wide variety of plant communities.
When hiking along the trail, visitors may encounter animals of three basic types:
- Small animals that are common but seldom seen, including shrews, voles, mice, and weasels.
- Medium-sized animals that are somewhat common and often seen, including white-tail deer, moose, black bear, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, and beaver.
- Medium to large, generally carnivorous animals that are rare, wide-ranging and also seldom seen, including timber wolf, coyote, lynx, and bobcat.
A typical day-hike probably won’t produce a lot of animals to see besides birds and insects. However, white tail deer, snowshoe hares, and red squirrels, among others, do commonly appear. In the muddy sections of the trail, tracks of deer, moose, and wolves can be seen, animals likely to use the trail as an easy path through remote woods.
There are numerous campsites along the SHT that are first come first serve. Many locations have running water and latrine toilets. Our trips use local State Parks with secured permits to ensure specific locations. Our experienced guides will showcase the best local hikes and points of interest.