Saturday, March 21, 2015

Crosby Manitou State Park offer diverse day hiking experiences

Yellow Birch Trail in George H. Crosby Manitou State
Park. Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR.
Sawtooth peaks, a wild Northwoods river, and a pretty lake await day hikers at George H. Crosby Manitou State Park on Minnesota’s North Shore.

To reach the park, from Silver Bay travel north on Minn. Hwy. 61, turning left/northwest onto Minn. Hwy 1. In Finland, go right/northeast onto County Road 7 (aka Cramer Road). Take a right/east into the park, using the main parking lot just before the road curves south. All the trail described here leave from that parking lot.

Among the state park’s great day hikes are:
g Bensen Lake Trail – Entirely shaded, the 0.9-miles round trip trail gives hikers the feeling of being in remote mountain country out west. The trailhead for Bensen Lake Trail is the Superior Hiking Trail, which runs past the park road immediately to the lot’s southeast. Take the Superior Hiking Trail south as a stem, and watch for the turnoff to the loop around Bensen Lake.
g Humpback Trail segment – The first half this rugged trail rambles to a summit at 1560-feet elevation. From the main parking lot’s northwest corner, go 0.6 miles to the peak for a 1.2-mile round trip.
g Matt Willis Trail/Beaver Bog Trail Loop – This trail combo heads around a 1624-foot peak. From the main parking lot, take the Superior Hiking Trail south to Bensen Lake Trail. Go left/southeast for 0.6 miles to Matt Willis Trail, which runs 1.3 miles and connects to Beaver Bog Trail, a 1.5-mile route that reconnects with Bensen Lake Trail. Total distance is 3.8 miles.
g West Manitou River Trail – The trail heads to several campsites along its namesake. To reach it, do a loop, starting from the main parking lot by taking the Yellow Birch Trail to the Misquah Trail then from the latter going north on the West Manitou River Trail; return to the main parking lot on the Middle Trail/Superior Hiking Trail for a 3-mile round trip.
g Yellow Birch Trail/Cedar Ridge Trail – This trail combo runs along the side of a sawtooth mountain. From the main parking lot, take the Yellow Birch Trail southeast and connect with the Cedar Ridge Trail, turning back at the next intersection for a 4-mile round trip out-and-back hike.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.