Backpacking the Superior Hiking Trail

I took my first real backpacking trip during the week of May 11, 1998. I went with a longtime camping friend of mine, Jon Lehtola, and 4 other friends of Jon's.

We planned a 5-day trip that would cover about 31 miles. Below is a more detailed description of the trip.

MONDAY, MAY 11, 1998

We spent most of our day traveling to Two Harbors, Minnesota, to the headquarters of the Superior Hiking Trail. There we bought our maps and picked our route. We decided to start at the Split Rock River (Wayside-West) and hike upriver to the first multi-group campsite. We didn't get on the trail until about 4:30 in the afternoon, so we knew we weren't going far. We probably only hiked 2 miles before setting up camp just after 6:00.

Click here for pictures of the Split Rock River

TUESDAY, MAY 12, 1998

We hit the trail pretty early, about 8:30. We hiked up, and up, and up to a scenic overlook. (This up, and up, and up pattern would become all-too-familiar over the next several days.) After that we hiked until around noon when we thought we had reached the next multi-group campsite. Hindsight being what it is, we should have kept going for a few more hours. We probably only hiked 6 miles or so. Our campsite was in a low-lying, swampy area. It rained some that evening, so we hit the tents between 5 and 6 that afternoon and didn't come out until morning.

Click here for pictures from the scenic overlook


This was a very long day. We left camp at 9:00 and headed for the Beaver River. We got there in about 3 hours and then took a well-deserved break of about an hour and a half. We found a nice spot under a bridge and ate, drank plenty of water, and cleaned our clothes and ourselves. Once we finally left we only hiked for about 15 minutes before coming to a spectacular waterfall just downstream. I got plenty of pictures of that. After that the day just seemed to drag on and on. We took a lot of breaks, including a 45 minute break alongside a road about 2 miles short of the campsite. This is where some people started getting the idea of going home. We finally pulled into our campsite at 7:00, which means we had been on the trail for 10 hours. My best estimate is that we hiked around 12 miles. It sometimes doesn't sound like much, but try it up and down hills with 50+ pounds on your back. No wonder we were hurtin' for certain.

Click here for pictures along the Fault Ridge Line

Click here for pictures at the Beaver River and Beaver Falls

THURSDAY, MAY 14, 1998

When Jon, Lumpy, and I woke up on Thursday (rather late, I might add) the other three were gone. Ryan and Doug were going to break camp early and go to the end of our route, where Ryan's car was. Tom was going to hike the 2 miles back to the road. Then Ryan would pick Tom up, go to the beginning of our route, get Jon's car, and drive it to the end so it would be there for us on Friday. At least we hoped that would all go well. Jon, Lumpy, and I waited for some rains to pass and left camp at 11:00 hoping to get to the campsites at Tettegouche State Park. That would leave us about 2 miles from the car, which we figured would make Friday real easy. We got to Tettegouche at about 6:00 and found out that in order to register our campsite we would have to walk a mile down towards the lake and pay a fee. Well, if we were going to walk a mile down and a mile back we might as well hike to the end. So we set off for the car, hoping to be there before it got dark. We did, and we drove back to the state park for a double helping of Lumpy's chili and nice warm showers. In all I think this was about a 10 mile day, but at least it was the last 10 miles.

 Click here for pictures of Bean and Bear Lakes

Click here for pictures from Mt. Trudee

Click here for pictures from Tettegouche State Park

FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1998

To put it simply, we packed up the car and left. We drove to Two Harbors and had a quick breakfast before going on to Duluth. In Duluth we visited the Canal Park and the Duluth Pack Store. We ate at the Old Country Buffet (a tradition for trips to northern Minnesota) and then headed south. We drove through some horrendous rain and hail storms just south of the twin cities and made our last tourist stop at the new Cabela's. Then it was home, sweet home.

Click here for some selected pictures from Jon