Reporting Mike Binkley
TWO HARBORS, Minn. (WCCO) — Before you know it, the trees in Minnesota will be turning bright shades of yellow, orange and red.
Some of the most spectacular views in the state can be found along the Superior Hiking Trail in the Arrowhead region.
Among its many honors, Readers Digest named it one of the “five best hikes in America,” while Backpacker Magazine named it “one of the most scenic trails in the nation.”
“It’s a whole different world out here,” said Dan Carr of Two Harbors, who hikes the trail regularly. “You just have to get off Highway 61.”
The Superior Hiking Trail follows the ridge line of Lake Superior’s north shore, through eight state parks along with inland forests and lakes.
The next few weeks will be among the busiest.
“Gets to be the best time of the year out here, I think,” Carr said.
There are two distinct bursts of fall color in this region, starting with the maples farther away from Lake Superior, turning red and orange.
That’s followed later by the birch and aspens, near the lake, with their brilliant yellows.
“Colors start to change really dramatically mid-September to early October,” said Gayle Henton, a volunteer coordinator with the Superior Hiking Trail Association. “We’re almost there.”
Henton gave up her corporate job in the Twin Cities four years ago so she could live near a place like this.
“You feel remote,” she said. “It feels like you’re a long way away. And we are probably 15 minutes away from where we parked our car.”
Hikers who take on the trail should realize, it’s not your typical flat Minnesota terrain. You’ll get your heart rate going.
“The terrain is constantly changing,” said Henton, “because the trail follows the ridge line and also crosses many of the north shore streams. You get up, you get down. No matter where you look, you have a great view.”
Sometimes, those views include wildlife.
“I’ve seen moose on the trail,” Carr said. “I’ve actually stopped and watched timberwolves walk by.”
The Superior Hiking Trail, which is maintained entirely by volunteers and supporters, is now in its 25th year. It currently stretches nearly 280 miles, but there are plans to eventually connect it to the North Country Trail, from upstate New York to North Dakota.
There are parking lots every five miles or so, where you can leave your car at a trailhead and there’s a shuttle service available on weekends.