Thursday, May 26, 2016

Several great trails await at Split Rock park

Historic light station buildings on the Split Rock Light Station Trail.

Routes head to rare rock, historic light station, lakeshore vistas


Though incredibly diverse in its trail offerings, Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is not so large that they can’t all be hiked in a week. Many visitors to the North Shore usually tackle one or two of them each year over a decade. Whichever approach you use, each day hike is certain to lead to a wonderful experience and memory.

Among some of the great Split Rock trails to day hike (from southwest to northeast) are:

Split Rock River Trail
A red rock gorge with waterfalls awaits day hikers of this 4.4-miles round trip trail. Due to the great scenery and ease of access, it’s also among the Superior Hiking Trail’s most popular segments. To reach the trail, at mile marker 43.2 on Minn. Hwy. 61, turn into the parking lot for the Split River Rock Wayside on the road’s north side.

Corundum Mine Trail
Day hikers can explore the history of a wild Lake Superior shoreline on this 4.2-miles round trip. Besides being a back-to-nature hike, the trail passes ruins of old logging and mining operations. Park at the same DOT wayside as for the Split Rock River Trail.

Merrill Logging Trail
Hikers can travel into the highlands overlooking Lake Superior via a century-old railroad grade on this trail. Including an access trail from the Split Rock River wayside via the Gitchi-Gami Trail, the route runs 2.7-miles round trip. It crosses an area that many visiting the state rock bypass in favor of the historic lighthouse.

Little Two Harbors Trail
Great views of the park’s famous lighthouse and of Lake Superior from a pebble beach await on the this trail. The 3.2-mile round trip ranks among the park’s most popular. To reach the trailhead, use the entry road and parking lots for the light station visitor center; rather than go to the center, though, follow the trail heading southwest from the lot.

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 trail. The 0.8-mile walk heads through a 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. Use the parking area for Split Rock Light Station and History Center.

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