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My Summer Vacation on the Superior Hiking Trail

cooling off in the Baptism River after the day's trek

stu allen photo

For some people, taking a vacation means spending time sitting on your butt, either on a beach or in a boat.  For my wife Shelia and I, a vacation means time to explore a new trail!  This year’s adventure took us to the northernmost corner of Minnesota, known to locals as “the Arrowhead.”


After a 15-hour drive, we reached our destination and pitched our tent at a rustic, state forest campground outside of Finland, Minnesota.  It was just a short hike from one of many places to access the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT).


The Superior Hiking Trail stretches from Duluth, Minnesota to the Canadian border, almost 300 miles point-to-point.  We were most interested in the parts of the SHT that make up the race course for the Superior Trail 100-mile race.


The rugged stretch of terrain that encompasses the SHT is also known as the “Sawtooth Mountains,” which constantly go up and down (the elevation chart looks like a sawblade).


Shelia and I are considering running the 100-mile race in September of 2013, and felt that having some prior experience on the trail would be helpful.


We spent five days on various sections of the trail.  The race motto for the Superior Trail 100 is “Rugged, Remote, Relentless.”  They aren’t kidding!  They should also include terms like “Beautiful, Breathtaking, and Peaceful.”


We saw plenty of wildlife on the trail, birds, insects, deer, and signs of other dwellers of the forest like bear, wolf and moose.  We passed a handful of hikers on the trail, but mostly had the place to ourselves.


We enjoyed scenic views (usually preceded by a long upward climb), waterfalls and a great backdrop of Lake Superior which is always within a couple of miles of the SHT.


After several hours on the trail, we would return to our campsite and head for the Baptism River to cool off/wash up.  The pleasant days were followed by cool nights which made for great sleeping weather.  Although our vacations tend to be “active,” a good night’s rest is important so you can have your wits about you on the trail.


Alas, the week went by too quickly and it was time to head back home to Michigan.


We’ll be back for more adventure in 2013 when we run the Superior Trail 100-Mile race.




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