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  1. #1
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    Default hiking the SHT next fall

    If anyone has any experience or advice they'd like to share with me about hiking the Superior trail, I'd be very thankful. I'm planning on a thru hike excluding the Duluth area (due to no available nor convenient camping areas).
    I've got a lot of questions: When, in the fall or spring, is a good start time considering bugs and weather? Are there "better" times of the year to do a thru? Are water sources reliable? If I carry a hammock instead of tent, are there sufficient good "hangs" at the campsites? Is resupply an issue along the trail or would I be better off sending resupply boxes ahead to myself? Are any of the ascents or descents tough (I have bad knees)? How difficult is it to get a ride off the trail at the northern terminus? Etc..
    humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy

  2. #2

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    I recommend starting at Castle Danger, it's pretty mundane before that (but a nice walk in the woods). The best time to start, IMHO, is Sept 1st. No bugs, cooler, drier weather and less crowds. If you start in the spring, late May would be the time, too muddy before then. Bugs don't get bad until mid-June, but I've hiked it in the teeth of the bug season and it's been fine. Water sources are not an issue, although some of the lesser streams may be a problem in a dry summer. I carry a hammock and almost all of the campsites are good (the ones that are not are listed on the SHT website). Resupply is OK but you will have trouble finding camping specific food, just grocery store items. The nice thing about the SHT is that Highway 61 runs parallel from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. You can hop off the trail and walk (or hitchhike) into town easily. The terrain on the trail is moderate, but there are sections where it gets a bit rugged. From Castle Danger the trail roughly follows a ridgeline which is a fault that developed when Lake Superior was formed. There are many places along the ridge that have eroded over time, so you do a lot of scrambling in places, but nothing like, say, the AT. The northern section is pretty remote, call Harriet's shuttle service in Grand Marais to get a ride to trails end and hike back. Grand Marais is the only real trail town along the route. Good Luck!

  3. #3
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    Support the SHTA. When I joined the Hiking The Superior Tr book was bought. I used it for planning.

    Most if not all your questions have been answered here on WB and/or in that book or on SHT forums.

    I like mid Sept to Mid Oct when the leaves have colored and the temps have cooled. I like SOBO through Duluth to Jay Cooke SP starting deep within the BWCA at a TH off Gunflint Trail(a Rd). I typically like to include the Kekeabic Tr and Border Route on the front end to which the SHT northern terminus connects. Remember the SHT is just a segment of the North Country Tr. I've hitched with patience on Gunflint Rd several times. I've twice successfully hitched to and from the SHT(4X total) northern terminus during different Sept and Oct yrs but I wouldn't recommend hitching to it or from it. I was fortunate. I consider myself somewhat very knowledgeable and lucky in getting rides. To do so think outside of the typical definition of hitching(thumb out standing alongside a road or flying a sign). I strongly recommend you get a shuttle!!! The book and SHTA site offer shuttle info. If starting on the Border Route Gunflint Lodge offers shuttles. It's a nice way to start a SHT SOBO staying there.

    Water is generally plentiful. Look at the book. Look at the SHT elev profile map.

    If you're not going through Duluth to southern terminus you might consider doing some spur trails taking in additional scenic sites ie; waterfalls, light houses, bridges, rivers, Great Lake shoreline, etc. The Lake Superior shoreline which is much like an ocean in itself can be very scenic. The lake is somewhat rarely in view and disappointingly only little of it is actually on the lake shoreline. The SHT isn't really a coastal hike to me made even less so if you rigidly adhere to the defined SHT.

    Resupply pts are in the book and have been discussed. I did send some boxes taking a hybrid resupply approach but that's a typical thru hiking MO for me. For others buying and supplementing along the way is typically fine enough. Grand Marais although possibly a bit touristy is one of the best towns to stop for a host of reasons. Try some of the smaller seafood places. Try the Dockside Fish Market or Angry Trout Cafe. Sit outside looking at the water. There's usually a bald eagle or two perched somewhere.

  4. #4
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    I resupplied in Grand Marais and Finland. No issue with finding a wide variety of "hiking" food. I hiked it in September and it was about perfect hiking weather. Cool at night but very mild during the day. I used the SHTA shuttle and started at the northern terminus. They offered a very reasonable price for the trip. Terrain was generally fairly easy. Good guidebook available. Side note: I hitched into both towns and had a ride within minutes both times.
    Lonehiker

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    ...The Lake Superior shoreline which is much like an ocean in itself can be very scenic. The lake is somewhat rarely in view and disappointingly only little of it is actually on the lake shoreline. The SHT isn't really a coastal hike to me made even less so if you rigidly adhere to the defined SHT....
    Agree. We need another word for the Great Lakes. Calling them "Lakes" is very misleading to most people. If you are interested in a spectacular shoreline hike, another one to consider is the trail across Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. Not difficult at all. Can be done in 4 leisurely days.

  6. #6

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    They are sometimes referred to as "inland seas." I used to live by Pictured Rocks, and spent many nights there. I miss the "lake."

  7. #7

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    Here is the URL for the SHT cheat sheet that the SHTA put together:

    file:///home/chronos/u-391b4d3b9ebf2b4d170cb5975afa66a91534a929/Downloads/SHT%20Mileage%20Chart%205-2016.pdf

    I have hiked the SHT north of Duluth many times. Because of my job working at a university, May 10ish through Memorial Day weekend (usually after the last snow melts but before the skeeters are out in big numbers) has been my typical time to hike (after spring semester but before summer session) and is a good hiking window. But since I am retiring in three months the next time I hike on the SHT will undoubtedly be in September -- after the skeeters are gone but before the snow flies, with some fall color thrown in late in the month. In either the spring or fall time window expect that overnight lows can get down to a little below freezing some nights.

    If you are starting or ending on the northern outskirts of Duluth I would add Two Harbors as a resupply point to add to Finland and Grand Marais. Silver Bay has a grocery store just a couple miles off trail but since Two Harbors and Finland are only around 65 trail miles apart and Silver Bay is between those two towns, Silver Bay would probably only be needed in a pinch.

    I think it's the several high-volume waterfalls a hiker sees on the SHT that really sets it apart from most other American long distance trails. If you don't have time to do all of the trail north of Duluth the 175 trail miles between Gooseberry Falls State Park in the south and County Road 16 in the north would let you experience all the major falls.
    Last edited by map man; 11-09-2018 at 20:49.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  8. #8

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    As stated above, the SHTA is a great information resource. They were friendly and helpful.

    Hiked the SHT last year with a a hammock. Trees are abundant, though smaller in size than on trails such as the AT, but had zero hanging problems.

    As Mapman stated, Silver Bay would probably only be needed in a pinch. Should you want to spend a night off trail, check out the Mariner Motel. Many of the motels are booked & premium priced in September. This was a welcome exception.

    I really enjoyed my time on the SHT. Good luck on your trip.

  9. #9
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    Silver bay is made an easier side trip if you take the signed cut off from Bear Lake. Don't miss the short escarpment walk to Bean Lake and back to the signed cut off though. The TH comes out in what is "downtown" Silver Bay at a USPO, restaurants, grocery store, convenience stores, library, etc and right down the street Mariner Hotel which is hiker friendly offering up discounts. You can reaccess the SHT by walking up Penn Ave to the signed SHT TH. You don't miss much between Bean Lake and the Penn Ave crossing. BTW, the CS at Bear Lake shown on some maps is small, rocky, rooty, not level and often already occupied. It's right at lake level though. I'd hike down to Bean Lake's north shore to remote camp or hike onto Bear Creek Camp or possibly find something in nice weather to cowboy on the escarpment overlooking these two(twin) lakes.

    In Grand Marais the Feather Nest Inn has more modest prices. They are SHT hiker friendly and have been willing to offer discounts on nightly rooms. There's a laundromat up the street and ample opps to buy food here. There's an almost always busy noisy CG/RV Park too although I don't like their tent area. They do have showers and it's centrally located but so does Feather Nest Inn.

  10. #10
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    Has anyone here done this: The Coastal Trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park?

    As Eric says,

    "The Coastal Trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park is certainly one of the finest hikes on Lake Superior. It brings the hiker right beside the dramatic power of Lake Superior almost the entire way. From rocky scrambles to impressive overlooking views, this trail is a very rewarding yet challenging hike."

    http://ericshikes.blogspot.com/2016/...k-coastal.html
    The Coastal Trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park is certainly one of the finest hikes on Lake Superior. It brings the hiker right beside the dramatic power of Lake Superior almost the entire way. From rocky scrambles to impressive overlooking views, this trail is a very rewarding yet challenging hike.

  11. #11
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    A big thanks to all who offered experienced opinions and advice! Right now, it looks like a mid to late August start might be my best bet. Still debating a nobo vs sobo.
    humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by greensleep View Post
    A big thanks to all who offered experienced opinions and advice! Right now, it looks like a mid to late August start might be my best bet. Still debating a nobo vs sobo.
    For sure go Nobo. The reason being, the trail gets better and better the farther northeast you go, so you’ll be less inclined to turn back and miss all the good stuff.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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