Gooseberry Gap Gets Green Light

March 4, 2021

The Superior Hiking Trail Association recently gained approval for a Conditional Use Permit from the Lake County Planning Commission for the “Gooseberry Gap” project. This project, already approved by the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, is aimed at building a new, ecologically-sound route on public lands to reconnect the Superior Hiking Trail between Gooseberry Falls State Park and Blueberry Hill Road. Funding for the project includes a generous $60,000 grant from the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) that will be matched by donations from SHTA supporters. 

Image displays a topographic map with parcel data of the approved route for the Superior Hiking Trail between Gooseberry Falls State Park and Blueberry Hill Road. The map shows the route exclusively crosses public lands managed by the State of Minnesota and Lake County.

The Gooseberry Gap reroute will move the SHT off a detour on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and back onto a new natural surface path on public lands. 

With permits in place, the Association is now ready to move the project forward into the next phase and hire a contractor to begin construction this year. Before we move on, we want to thank our Trail stewards in Lake County who shared supportive comments with the Commission, as well as the County staff and Commission members who went above and beyond to assess the project and address concerns. We also want to call upon you to continue to both follow and promote the rules of the Trail so this section, and other critical connections along our 300-mile corridor, do not run the risk of being lost.

This project stands as a cautionary tale and reminder that the actions of each user of the SHT reflect on the entire Trail community. During the permitting process, we heard from Lake County landowners who shared concerns based on less-than-stellar encounters with trail users in the past. At least one of those encounters led to the SHTA losing access to a parcel of private land, which created the current detour onto the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and prompted this costly, time-consuming project. The Association has taken these concerns seriously and committed to increased education of SHT users on responsible use of the Trail, monitoring of the new route once it’s built, and coordination with Lake County Forestry on signage at trail crossings to keep users from veering off the Trail. 

In addition to these efforts, we ask that you do your part to be a responsible user and steward of the SHT. Please follow the rules of the Trail, be respectful to those you encounter on the Trail, and practice Leave No Trace to minimize your impact. If you ever witness vandalism, resource damage, or other misbehavior anywhere on the Trail, please let the Association know via our Trail Incident Report or contact law enforcement if such a response is needed. Thank you in advance for your help to protect the Trail.

Want to learn more about responsible use of the SHT? Visit our Leave No Trace page for helpful tips to minimize your impact.