Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day hikers offered Lake Superior vistas

Middle Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR.
Grand views of the world’s largest freshwater lake, a historic lighthouse, and river gorges await day hikers in the Two Harbors, Minn., region.

Known as the gateway to the North Shore, Two Harbors is the first major community past Duluth as heading along Lake Superior. It easily can be reached by taking Minn. Hwy 61 north from Duluth. Two state parks and a national forest are within an hour’s drive of Two Harbors.

Two Harbors’ great day hikes include:
g Corundum Mine Trail – Lake Superior can be enjoyed along Split Rock Point via this 1.8-mile round trip. Park at the Minn. Hwy. 61 wayside immediately before Split Rock River; cross the highway and join the Gitchi-Gami State Trail that goes over the river. After the bridge, take the first trail heading right/southeast, then follow the connector trail overlooking Crazy Bay.
g Day Hill Trail – This 1.3-miles round trip heads to a summit overlooking Lake Superior at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. Park at the lot at the end of Split Rock’s entrance road then take the stem trail south toward the lake. At the second junction, go right/northwest and head around the base of Day Hill, following the route to the summit.
g Gitchi-Gami State Trail, Gold Rock Point segment – Head north of Split Rock lighthouse to Gold Rock Point for a 4-mile round trip. On the point, you can search for agates and try to spot in the shallow water the remains of the cargo ship Madeira, which sunk there in 1905. Alternately, from the visitor center, go south to West Split Rock River within the park for a roughly 4.5-miles round trip.
g Gitchi-Gami State Trail, Gooseberry Falls State Park Segment – The southwest end of a 14.1-mile one–way segment begins at Gooseberry Falls 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 Gitchi-Gami State Trail, 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. Leave your vehicle at the Silver Creek Wayside Park and walk south/west to the western end of of Silver Creek Cliff.
g Gitchi-Gami State Trail, 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 River View Trail – Three waterfalls and an agate beach await day hikers on this 1.8-mile route in Gooseberry Falls State Park. The trail runs through the heart of what many consider to be the most beautiful parks on the North Shore, if not the entire state.
g Sonju Trail – Large pine trees, Lake Superior views, and whitetail deer sightings await day hikers on the paved bicycle and walking trail along the shoreline n Two Harbors. The trail runs from Paul Van Hoven Park through Lakeview Park for about 2.4-miles round trip. Note: Confusingly, this trail is referred to by several different names – including the “Sonju Lakewalk Trail,” “Sonju Harbor Trail,” and the “Two Harbors Lake Walk Trail” – on maps and in other literature.
g Split Rock Light Station Trail – Day hikers can explore one of the nation’s most famous lighthouses and enjoy impressive cliff top views of Lake Superior on this 0.8-mile collection of walking paths around the historic Split Rock lighthouse. Perched atop a 130-foot high solid rock cliff overlooking Lake Superior, Split Rock is among the most photographed lighthouses in the country.
g Superior Hiking Trail, Crow Creek River segment – Expansive views of the Stewart River and Silver Creek River valleys greet hikers on this segment of the famous North Shore trail, which crosses the Crow Creek River valley gorge on a 40-foot footbridge. Start the segment on Minn. Hwy 61, just past mile marker 26, for a 9-mile one-way trip to the Silver Creek Road 617 parking area.

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