Superior Hike and Explore Camp
Hiking Getaway While Camping in Spectacular State Parks
Trek the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) along the North Shore of Lake Superior, showcasing waterfalls, rapids, and gorges as it winds through Minnesota’s Northwoods. Base camp at a state park and fall asleep listening to waves crash against the shore. Hike along the SHT, taking in nature’s entire spectrum of beauty from admiring high panoramic overlooks of the lake to noticing the smallest lichens that blanket the rugged rocks. Come experience the land that has been shared through story and song for thousands of years.
DAY 1: Drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Cascade State Park where the trip officially begins. Settle into the campsite with your new friends and get to know one another over dinner and a campfire with s'mores. Spend the first night listening to the waves of Superior crash along the shore.
DAY 2: Arise for an early breakfast, pack up, and head for a beautiful day hike. You will hike the eight-mile Cascade River Loop, one of the premier day hike loops on the Superior Hiking Trail. Enjoy lunch with your group while viewing Lake Superior before completing the remainder of the hiking loop. Climb a number of beautiful overlooks, some from more than 50 feet above the river! You'll come back to camp with a new appreciation for the North Shore and your trail buddies.
DAY 3: After one last breakfast, get the chance to explore more of beautiful Cascade State Park. Bid farewell to the Superior shoreline and newfound friends. Pack up belongings and hit the road back to Minneapolis after lunch.
What To Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior is a land of rugged, forested hills, impressive vistas of the mighty Lake, rocky shores, crashing waves, cozy valleys and breath taking waterfalls. All of the day hikes are planned with moderate ascents and descents along accessible trails. Weather may play a role in determining the exact route, but the Superior Hiking Trail offers many alternatives to avoid too much exposure.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: Base camp at a nearby state park. From there day-hike to destinations along the Superior Hiking Trail. An average day's hiking will include routes that consist of 2-8 miles or 3-6 hours of hiking, depending on weather conditions. This is a great trip for beginner hikers. No previous experience is necessary.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer and fall months can range from 40 F to 95 F. Rainfall can vary, but you should expect at least a chance of rain. Lake Superior's presence can bring about sudden weather changes.
ACCOMMODATIONS: At night you will sleep in a comfortable 4-person tents with 3-4 other people. Bathrooms consist of outhouses.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 10 to 12 people, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff.
MEALS: Enjoy preparing meals together using fresh, healthy ingredients for bountiful dishes. Rise to the smell of freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with your breakfast and pack trail lunches with hearty snacks before heading off to explore. In the evening, we’ll prepare our dinner together over stoves and campfires and then finish with s’mores. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
The 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. The Trail has 92 backcountry campsites with no fees, reservations, or permits required to hike or camp on the trail.
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.
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:
1) Small animals that are common but seldom seen, including shrews, voles, mice, and weasels.
2) Medium-sized animals that are somewhat common and often seen, including white-tail deer, moose, black bear, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, and beaver.
3) 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.
Frequently Asked Questions:
I am riding in the Wilderness Inquiry van to the trip starting point. Where can I park my car?
Wilderness Inquiry has no participant parking available in our lot. We strongly recommend that participants meeting at WI make arrangements to be dropped off and picked up at WI. If you are unable to make a drop off/pick up arrangement, you can park your car at the St. Anthony Standard parking ramp ($10/day). Long-term street parking is not available.
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No Dates Scheduled
WI leads trips to Superior Hiking Trail but currently has no dates scheduled. If you have a group of people interested, we can set up a customized adventure just for you! Please contact us if you are interested in a group trip to this destination.