Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Get up close & personal with Lake Superior

Gitchi-Gami State Trail's Silver Creek Cliff Segment.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR.
Incredible views of Lake Superior await day hikers of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail on Minnesota’s North Shore.

As of 2013, about 29.5 miles of the paved bicycle path – which also can be used for day hiking – runs along the world’s largest freshwater lake from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Plans call for 88.2-mile route.

Construction began in 2001 with segments added every year since, largely thanks to the work of the nonprofit Gitchi-Gami Trail Association in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It largely parallels State Hwy. 61.

Following are segments of the route, from north to south, that can be day hiked.

Two Harbors area
g Silver Creek Cliff Segment – The 1-mile round trip trail makes use of the Old Hwy. 61 roadbed and offers a 4000-foot vista of Lake Superior. Park at the Silver Creek Wayside Park and walk south/west to the western end of of Silver Creek Cliff.
g Gooseberry Falls State Park Segment – The southwest end of a 14.1-mile one–way segment begins at the state park. It can be picked up at either the park’s lower level parking lot or at the visitor center and walked to the Twin Points Wayside for about a 4.5-mile round trip.
g Twin Points Wayside segments – The trail can be hiked either south to Gooseberry Falls State Park (4.5-miles round trip) or north to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park’s West Split Rock River (a little more than 4-miles round trip). Parking is available at the wayside.
g Split Rock Lighthouse State Park segments – From the visitor center, either go south to West Split Rock River within the park (about 4.5-miles round trip) or north to Gold Rock Point (a little more than 4-miles round trip). Park at the visitor center.

Silver Bay area
g Beaver Bay Segment – The north end of the 14.1-mile trail begins in downtown Beaver Bay off of State Hwy. 61 south/west of Slater Drive. Hike the trail as far south as you like; the creek south of Pine Bay Loop makes a good turnaround for a little more than 4-mile round trip.
g Silver Bay Trail Segment – From Rukavina Arena on Outer Drive in Silver Bay, head 2.3 miles (4.6-miles round trip) south/west to West Road in Beaver Bay. Parking is available near the arena.

Schroeder area
g Temperance River Segment – The trail runs north/east through Temperance River State Park and the Temperance River gorge. At 3.1 miles (6.2-miles round trip), it can be accessed with parking at the MnDOT wayside in Schroeder.

Tofte area
g Tofte Segment – Starting at Tofte Town Park, the trail heads north/east. Leaveaux Creek is about 2 miles away for a 4-mile round trip.
g Ray Berglund State Park segments – Parking at the wayside, either head south/west to Leaveaux Creek for a 4-mile round trip or north/east to Rollins Creek for a 2-mile round trip.

Lutsen area
g Lutsen Segment – The trail heads south/west from Lutsen Ski Hill Road. Take it to Rollins Creek for a 3-mile round trip. Park at the designated GGST parking area.

Grand Marais area
g Grand Marais Segment – Park in downtown Grand Marais near the trailhead off of State Hwy. 61 near Eighth Avenue. Head south/west until the trail runs out for a 3-mile round trip.

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