It's a pawsome opportunity to be able to bring your dog with you on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), which welcomes leashed dogs along its entire 326-mile course up the western shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. This beautiful trail traverses untouched forests and offers amazing lake views. Wildlife species that live near the trail include eagles, moose, beavers, and wolves.
The trail is accessible from many different points in towns and parks along the way, and there are campsites every 5-8 miles along the trail. There are also shuttle services that allow you to turn any section of the trail into a point-to-point hike instead of having to double your route into an out-and-back hike. You can even bring dogs on the Superior Hiking Shuttle for $5 per pup!
The SHT starts near the Red River at a remote corner of Jay Cooke State Park at the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, about 20 miles from Duluth. The state park is a great place to explore the Superior Hiking Trail as it provides ample parking, bathrooms, and other amenities, as well as stunning river and forest scenery.
You can also start your journey on popular sections in and around Duluth, which make for great day hiking options. The trail links many Duluth landmarks, including Ely's Peak, Bardon Peak, Enger Tower, the Rose Garden at Leif Erikson Park, Hartley Nature Center, and the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, where people go to view huge groups of migrating raptors each fall.
The changing scenery along the Superior Hiking Trail is remarkable in its wildness and diversity. The trail follows a high ridgeline along the shore of majestic Lake Superior and provides excellent views of the bluffs and cliffs of this unique geographical area formed by volcanos and glaciers. You can see the Apostle Islands and Isle Royale from different points on the trail, which at other points descends into river valleys and mixed deciduous and boreal forests. Cedar and tamarack, maple and basswood alternate with open lands where wildflowers bloom in warmer months.
The trail connects eight state parks and a national forest. As you continue north from Duluth, you'll cross the Lester and Knife Rivers on your way to Two Harbors, then pass through Gooseberry Falls State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. You'll cross many more rivers and Temperance River State Park as you head toward Grand Marais. The trail ends about 55 miles northeast of Grand Marais at a 270-degree overlook near where the Swamp and Pigeon Rivers meet at the U.S.-Canada border.
The Superior Hiking Trail Association playfully reminds hikers to bring clean up bags to prevent dog waste from "piling up (on) the SHT." They also emphasize that it's illegal, dangerous to wildlife, and a nuisance to others to let your dog off-leash on the trail. As long as you can follow these two rules, you and your dog will have a pawsome time on the SHT.
Whether you're already in northern Minnesota or planning on visiting, don't hesitate to take to this magnificent trail with your pup. You're sure to make memories you'll treasure for a lifetime.