Superior Hiking Trail

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In northeastern Minnesota, the Superior Hiking Trail traverses 296 miles of rugged landscape and beautiful vistas of Lake Superior. Whether you spend a weekend trip or a whole summer, backpacking this trail will be an unforgettable, epic adventure.

Written by

Molly O'Connor


296.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

123.6 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 days

1-2 days, or 3-4 weeks


Spring, Summer, and Fall

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only


Fees Permits


No camping permit required (except if camping at the nearby state parks off trail)

Land Website

Superior Hiking Trail



There are those moments in life when all you need to do is drop everything you are doing and escape to the wilderness — times when you need to reground yourself and evaluate your life. Well, in northeastern Minnesota, there is a trail for exactly that.

What Makes It Great

The most popular and arguably more scenic sections of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) start north of Duluth. The SHT passes through the charming Gooseberry Falls Park where the trail becomes especially breathtaking. From here the trail returns back to Lake Superior’s shores where vistas showcase rocky outcrops, a blanket of dense forests, and the great lake’s ocean-like horizon. While, scrambling up the rocky cliffs or descending down to Superior’s rocky shores, it is hard to look away from the blue horizon.

Throughout the whole trail, the landscape changes dramatically. For most of the path, you primarily hike high above on Lake Superior’s rock-strewn ridgeline. It’s important to note that the farther north you go, the more rugged the terrain gets. The landscape changes from hardwood forest to quiet meadows to steep cliffs to forested mountains to rushing waterfalls to boreal forest. The lowest point in this section is a little over 600 feet above sea level and the highest elevation is over 1,800 feet. Starting from Temperance, the Sawtooth Mountains curve almost all the way to Canada, making this portion of the trail arduous. However, the views are absolutely worth it.

Designed only for foot traffic, you will never have to worry about bikers or motorists. This allows for a more natural experience. Hikers with a careful eye can forage for delicious blueberries and raspberries that border the trail. Also, since the trail goes through backcountry wilderness, there is a good chance that you will encounter wildlife. Listen carefully to the myriad of birdsongs and look to your feet for animal prints. There are even occasional bear or mountain lion sightings.

During the spring, just before the mosquitoes hatch, the trail is absolutely perfect. The wildflowers start to bloom and the trail bursts with color —especially when the trilliums show their brilliant white petals. Also, autumn is a fantastic time of the year to hike the trail. During this time, the trail looks ablaze thanks to the sugar maples, oaks, and ashes.

Who is Going to Love It

Be it a weekend trip or a summer-long journey of self-discovery, the Superior Hiking Trail offers hikers and backpackers the opportunity to return to nature and revitalize oneself in the wilderness.

Trail runners will also love sections of this trail, and there is even an ultra-marathon, which takes place here. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The Superior Hiking Trail is 296 miles long. Starting 40 miles south of Duluth and extending all the way up to the Canadian border, the SHT has trailheads every 5 to 10 miles, which makes it easy for backpackers and hikers to tailor their own journeys. Notably, the Superior Hiking Trail Association highly encourages people to camp, and offers 92 backcountry campsites with no fees or reservations necessary.

The southern section starts at Jay Cooke State Park and weaves through the upper hills of Duluth until reaching the northern trailhead at Martin Road. Though more of an urban setting, this portion of the trail has amazing views of Duluth with Lake Superior as its backdrop. For many miles, the SHT stays inland and takes backpackers through rolling hills and rocky, pine-covered ridges.

There are available shuttle services for backpackers looking for a ride to a trailhead. 


Superior Hiking Trail

Minnesota 210
Carlton, MN, 55718
46.662456, -92.461287

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