Thursday, May 28, 2015

When to hike Minnesota’s North Shore

Waves from Lake Superior crash against Minnesota's rocky North Shore.
The best months to day hike Minnesota’s North Shore are mid-May through September.

Depending on the year, April and October also can be pleasant.
During spring, waterfalls run at their highest levels, the bird migration is in full swing, and bugs are nil. Trails can be muddy, though, as snow typically melts between April and early May.

Unlike the rest of Minnesota, summers on the North Shore usually are not hot, as cool breezes off Lake Superior keep heat and most insects at bay. Rain, however, can occur during the afternoon even when the morning is sunny, so always check the weather forecast before heading out.

For many hikers, autumn marks the best time to hit a North Shore trail. By mid-August, summer’s bugs are gone, trails are mostly dry, and throughout September maples and aspen light the wilderness with color. A sweatshirt often is needed during the day, though, and nights can be chilly.

Mid-October through March usually is too cold and wet for day hiking. Once snow falls, trails typically are used for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing.

Five great North Shore trails include:
High Falls Trail (Tettegouche State Park)
Ridge Loop Trail (Duluth)
River View Trail (Gooseberry State Park)
Shovel Point Trail (Tettegouche State Park)
Split Rock Light Station Trail (Split Rock Lighthouse State Park)

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