Saturday, September 5, 2015

Brief hike leads to tiny North Shore beach

Topo map for Kelsey Beach Trail
Day hikers can enjoy a brief walk along one of the North Shore’s best kept secrets at Kelsey Beach.

Less than a couple of hundred feet in distance, the cobblestone beach sits at the mouth of the Stewart River as it flows into Lake Superior.

To reach the trailhead, from Two Harbors take Minn. Hwy. 61 north for about three miles. Immediately past the Stewart River Bridge, turn right/southeast into the parking lot. A short, uneven path heads to the beach below the lot.

What awaits are black 1.1-billion-year-old lava formations and dark cobblestone that water rivulets cascade over. The dark stone contrasts nicely with the towering evergreens to the north and the clear blue of Lake Superior to the east.

The Stewart River runs just 4.9 miles out of the high grounds to the west. A protected trout stream, it hosts both “coaster” brook trout and salmon.

Named for pioneer settler John Stewart, the river once was used for log driving. So many trees were floated down the river, that one log jam near the beach took three years to clear.

While the river shouldn’t be waded, a bike lane on Hwy. 61 does allow hikers to cross the Stewart via a highway bridge and to explore the southern shoreline, which offers more beachfront.

As beach walk, there’s no marked trail.

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