Thursday, April 17, 2014

Great scenery found among Cloquet-Carlton area day hiking trails

St. Louis River Pedestrian Trail
Several excellent day hiking trails can be found in and around Cloquet and Carlton, two neighboring communities in southeastern St. Louis County, Minnesota. Among the sites that can be seen – the rough and tumble St. Louis River, beautiful fall leaves, and two of northern Minnesota’s rapidly disappearing ski jumps.

Trails in the Cloquet-Carlton area include:
g Carlton Trail – About 4.3-miles round trip, the Carlton runs along the St. Louis River's south side between trail Junctions 27 and 28 in Jay Cooke State Park. Park at the lot for the swinging bridge and upon crossing it, turn right/west at trail Junction 32 then continue straight at Junction 28.
g High Trail – This often overlooked 3.75-mile round trip out-and-back trail in Jay Cooke State Park sits close to the Wisconsin border on the St. Louis River’s south side. Park off the road on Minn. Hwy. 23 about a mile from the border. The trail climbs up in elevation to a lookout over the river.
g Mountain Goat Forest Road – A small segment of the Fond du Lac State Forest sits between Jay Cook State Park and the Wisconsin border. The jeep trail runs about 3.6-miles round trip up and down a hill. From Minn. Hwy. 23, go south on Mountain Goat Forest Road (sometimes labeled on maps as Bandle Road) into the forest, parking at a turnout about 1500 feet from the highway.
g North Country National Scenic Trail – This seven-state trail enters Minnesota from Wisconsin at Jay Cooke State Park. Park in the lot for the swinging bridge and head north across Minn. Hwy. 210 to Forbay Lake for a scenic 1-mile (2-miles round trip) segment of it within the state park, via the White Pine and C.C.C. trails.
g Organtz Trail – The 2-mile loop in Jay Cooke State Park heads through a forest of aspen, birch and maple, which makes for a great autumn hike; along the St. Louis River are heavy deposits of red clay left here by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago. Park in the lot for the picnic area east of the swinging bridging.
g Pine Valley Trails – Cloquet’s Pine Valley Park offers several miles of ski trails in two loops that can be hiked when the snow is gone. The northern 2.5-mile loop goes around the ski jump and begins at the chalet; park in ski jump lot at 1202 Olympic Drive.
g St. Louis River Pedestrian Trail – The paved, interpretive trail area in Cloquet runs along the north side of the St. Louis River. Park at the Cloquet Chamber of Commerce offices off of County Road 33/Sunnyside Drive. A connecting bridge crosses the river to Spafford Park.

Related blog entries:
g Hike across swinging bridge on Minnesota’s East Ridge Trail 
g Willard Munger Trail accessible in number of Minnesota cities

Read more about day hiking Northeast Minnesota in my Headin’ to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota guidebook.