Current Trail Conditions
Staff of the Superior Hiking Trail Association update this page as soon as we get noteworthy conditions reports.
Fire ban in effect! (Updated July 19, 2021)
There is a fire ban across northern Minnesota. Do not have a campfire at ANY Superior Hiking Trail campsite. Conditions are extremely dangerous right now. Please be a good steward of the SHT and surrounding land. Know that backpackers on the SHT may not have heard this information — if you encounter a backpacker having a fire, please alert them to the situation.
It is our understanding that during this time, backpacking stoves are permitted.
General Trail Conditions (updated July 12, 2021):
- Summer means bugs: ticks, mosquitoes, and black flies are all on the SHT right now. We highly recommend doing a through tick check after every SHT experience to help prevent tick-borne illness.
- Curious about which water sources have dried up? We added a new section below called Water Sources, but know that conditions change quickly and often.
If you encounter a section of the SHT signed as CLOSED, please stay off. You can help us maintain access to the Trail and honor our agreements with private landowners by staying off closed sections. When the Trail is routed through a trailhead, take a moment to check if there are any additional signs posted at the trailhead.
TRAILHEAD UPDATES AND ISSUES (updated July 6, 2021):
- Camping is not allowed at trailheads. The SHTA does not own the land you are parking on, and we do not have permission for camping in these areas.
- Never leave valuables in your car at any SHT trailhead.
Specific trailhead updates:
- Wild Valley Road Trailhead and vicinity: Some trail users have reported hearing gunshots close to the SHT at Wild Valley Trailhead. Recreational shooting is known to take place nearby. There’s no reason to believe guns are being shot at or across the Trail, but please be aware of your surroundings to stay safe.
- Lismore Road Trailhead is permanently closed: what had been public land is now privately owned. The SHT can still be accessed at Lismore Road by parking on the road (please park well off the roadway) and going through the ditch to reach the Trail. The Trail runs parallel to Lismore Rd. and is within the highway right-of-way, so you are not trespassing. Do NOT park in the driveway that had been the trailhead parking lot; you WILL be trespassing. Please be mindful to stay on the Trail while you pass through this area.
- Judge C.R. Magney State Park Trailhead: Parking here is limited due to construction (more info below) – please consider visiting in the evenings.
TRAIL CLOSURES, DETOURS AND ISSUES (updated July 22, 2021):
- Duluth SHT: The SHT inside city limits is open when dry and closed during wet weather or when trail conditions are soft and wet. Find the current open/closed status for the Trail in Duluth by visiting the City’s Natural Surface Trails page.
- Enger Park to Rose Garden: The SHTA and the City of Duluth are aware that there are multiple encampments of people experiencing homelessness in this vicinity. You may experience garbage on and near the Trail, including broken glass among other unsanitary debris. Sturdy footwear is recommended for those who traverse this section.
- Enger Park to Rose Garden: The City of Duluth has continued to work to restore the Duluth Lakewalk area from the Aerial Lift Bridge to Endion Station due to storm damage sustained in recent years. The route of the SHT through the area follows the temporary reroute of the Lakewalk while construction is underway. Refer to the City of Duluth’s updates on the project for the most current status.
- Eastern Fox Farm Road to Rossini Road: A timber harvest is ongoing towards the northeastern end of this section. The logger is done cutting in one unit (a clearcut) and not started in another (a thinning). Trail users should follow the pink flagging and stay alert as they pass through. We should be notified as soon as St. Louis County gets word that the logger is going to resume operations, but all trail users should exercise caution while in the area.
- Gun Club Road to Lake County Road 301/Fors Road: The SHT is closed from Gun Club Road to Silver Creek Campsite. Long-distance hikers can bypass the area (heading northeast-bound) by following a roadwalk on Gun Club Road to Lake County Road 301 (Fors Road) and reconnecting with the SHT at Lake County Road 301 Trailhead (see map below). The Silver Creek Campsite is open for shared use as usual.
- Lake County Road 301/Fors Road to Castle Danger: Encampment River area has experienced a large slump near the river crossing. Use caution until a reroute is in place.
- The “Gooseberry Gap” Reroute: A 1.6 mile section of the SHT is closed permanently between Gooseberry Falls State Park to Split Rock River Wayside, from the northern boundary of Gooseberry Falls State Park to Blueberry Hill Road. There is a detour on the paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail to go around this section. Bring these directions with you! Here is a map you can also use. The detour starts at the Gooseberry Falls State Park Visitor Center, crosses on the pedestrian bridge under Hwy. 61 over the Gooseberry River and travels for 2.1 miles on the Gitchi Gami State Trail to the Blueberry Hill Road intersection. This intersection is located near Highway 61, milepost 41.6 by blue fire number #3486. You will need to watch for the fire number! Cross Highway 61 and walk 1.2 miles north on Blueberry Hill Road, a gravel forest road, to connect to the SHT and then continue east on the SHT to Split Rock River Wayside. No parking on Blueberry Hill Road. No camping is available between Gooseberry Falls State Park and Blueberry Hill Campsite! Please plan accordingly.
- Split Rock to Beaver Bay: A new mountain bike trail is being built near the SHT. The new trail passes close to the Fault Line Creek campsite (and particularly close to the latrine). Be aware that there are crews working in the area, stay alert and never pass someone performing trail work (especially if they are operating equipment or power tools). Pay special attention to signage and intersections to ensure that you stay on the correct trail.
- Cascade River State Park to Cook County Road 45, including the Cascade River Loop: On the west side of the Cascade River, a small bridge failed and has been dismantled. The crossing there is a bit precarious. It may be a while before we can create an alternate crossing. The approximate location is: 47°43’44.5″N 90°32’12.1″W.
- Lindskog Road to Cook County Road 14: There is a gaping hole in the trail tread on the east side of Kimball Creek bridge. The trail tread has been excavated in preparation for a bridge installation project happening in August. The Trail is passable via a very short reroute, but use caution and beware of loose rock and dirt.
- Judge C.R. Magney State Park to Northern Camp 20 Road: The State Park has finished the new board walk but is currently still working on the trail. The trail to Devil’s Kettle waterfall will remain open during the remaining work on the project. Crews continue to work along the trail, so hikers are asked to remain aware of the work and be patience as crews improve the trail tread.
- Northern Camp 20 Road to Arrowhead Trail: The eastern end of the Tom Lake Road roadwalk may be temporarily flooded by beavers. Look for a rugged path around wet area or plan for wet feet.
ANIMAL ADVISORY (updated June 4, 2021):
- The Finland area has been experiencing increased wolf activity. There has been no aggression shown towards humans, but dogs are in particular danger in this location. For this and many other reasons, please keep your dog leashed on this and every section of the SHT. Wolves are a normal, natural part of the ecosystem on the North Shore.
- Crystal Creek Campsite, in the section Caribou Falls State Wayside to Sugarloaf Road, has ground bees nesting in the middle of the campsite near the fire ring. If possible, we recommend simply avoiding this campsite for the time being. South of Crystal Creek Campsite, East Caribou Campsite is very large and has no bee problem.
- Always protect your food at SHT campsites and pack out everything you bring with you on the Trail. Here’s a helpful guide to reduce the chances of bear encounters: https://www.dnr.
WATER SOURCE INFORMATION (updated July 22, 2021):
Given the dry conditions of the North Shore, many streams are lower than they usually are this time of year. Major rivers will always have water; lakes and ponds (with possible exception of Sugarloaf Pond) will have water, though it may be unappealing. If it’s listed as “unreliable” in the guidebook, please expect it to be dry.
In conditions like this, a water filter is a better bet than any other water purification method. Expect stagnant water which requires filtering.
The below data is primarily sourced from reports via email and social media. Your experiences may vary. Always carry more water than you think you need. There are likely many more dried-up sources than are listed here!
Lake County Demonstration Forest Trailhead to Reeves Road Trailhead: Reeves Falls Campsite’s stream is on the brink of being dry – it is murky and stagnant. Recommended not to rely on this.
Lake County Road 301 Trailhead to West Castle Danger River Trailhead: Crow Creek is dry. The Encampment has some puddles as of 7/22 but may dry up if rain doesn’t come soon.
West Castle Danger Road Trailhead to Gooseberry Falls State Park Trailhead: Crow Valley Campsite’s creek is dry.
Split Rock River Wayside Trailhead to Lax Lake Road Trailhead: Chapins Ridge Campsite’s water source is one small puddle. Do not rely on this water source. It is likely that there is no reliable water between the Split Rock River and Beaver Pond Campsite.
Penn Boulevard Trailhead to Highway 1 Trailhead: Penn Creek is dry. It is highly likely that both branches of Palisade Creek are also dry. For anyone hiking this section, reliable water might only be found at Bear Lake or at Round Mountain Beaver Pond (less appealing).
Sawbill Trail Trailhead to Onion River Road Trailhead: Springdale Creek is dry. This is a fairly long stretch without reliable water. There is likely no reliable water between the Temperance River and Leveaux Pond.
Any source listed as “unreliable” in the guidebook is likely on the edge of dry or completely dry. If they have water, it’s likely to be a trickle. If you encounter a water source where you planned to get water but could not, please drop us a note at [email protected] so we can provide better information here.
WATER CROSSINGS (updated July 6, 2021):
General water crossings reminder: After large rain events, water levels at natural crossings such as Encampment River, Split Rock River, Trout Creek, etc, can fluctuate wildly. Specific water crossings updates:
- 131st Avenue West to 123rd Avenue West: The Sargent Creek Bridge has been deteriorating for many years and a reroute project is planned for this spring. In the meantime, it would be best to avoid using this bridge.
- Lake County Road 301/Fors Road to Castle Danger: The Encampment River is a wet-water crossing. Under normal circumstances, it’s an easy crossing with many large rocks. It is only a problem if there has been a large rain event within 48 hours. Here is a roadwalk detour map you can print and bring with you, but we strongly suggest hiking to the river to assess it before concluding that a roadwalk is necessary.
- Lake County Road 301/Fors Road to Castle Danger: Several small bridges have evolved into non-bridged minor water crossings. The Trail should be passable without those bridges. This includes Crow Creek near West Castle Danger Road. Like the Encampment River, this creek is rarely high.
- Split Rock River Loop: There is no bridge over the Split Rock River. Many trail users have crossed the river at the former bridge site during low water — we urge caution if you decide to cross the river. The river may be impassable during high water events. An alternate route exists on spur trails to cross a bridge near Hwy 61 if the water level is high: Northbound, at junction with spur trail turn right (south-east) toward the Split Rock River Wayside. From the wayside, take paved trail to Hwy 61 underpass and turn left. After 0.2 miles, spur trail to main SHT is on left across Hwy 61. Follow spur trail 0.4 miles to junction with main SHT.
- Caribou Trail to Cascade River State Park: The Spruce Creek Bridge was washed slightly downstream last spring. We recommend staying off the bridge. A crossing of the creek is generally possible in low-to-normal water conditions but you will likely get wet feet. We plan to replace the Spruce Creek Bridge during the 2022 season.
- Cascade River State Park to Bally Creek Road (also on the Cascade River Loop):
- Trout Creek is a wet-water crossing. Under normal circumstances, Trout Creek is a trickle. Only during snowmelt season or a big rain event is crossing an issue. If hiking the loop, go counter-clockwise – get to Trout Creek first, not at the end of your hike, just in case.
- On the west side of the Cascade River, a small bridge has been dismantled. The crossing there is a bit precarious due to steep banks on either side (not due to water, generally) but can be crossed with caution. The approximate location is: 47°43’44.5″N 90°32’12.1″W.
TIMBER HARVEST OPERATIONS (updated May 25, 2021):
- Between Duluth and Two Harbors, there have been several forest management and timber harvest operations over the last few years on county lands. Please keep in mind that the Superior Hiking Trail Association does not own this land and that every effort is made by harvesters to disrupt as little of the SHT as possible.
- Lismore Road to Normanna Road: Much of this section is owned by St. Louis County which is actively logging this area. Watch carefully for blue flagging and posts marked with SHT markings to find your way.
- Eastern Fox Farm Road to Rossini Road: A timber harvest is ongoing towards the northeastern end of this section. The logger is done cutting in one unit (a clearcut) and not started in another (a thinning). Trail users should follow the pink flagging and stay alert as they pass through. All trail users should exercise caution while in the area.
- Lake County Road 7 to George Crosby Manitou State Park: Timber has been harvested along the SHT between Lake County Road 7 and the first crossing (northbound) with the North Shore State Trail (approximately 0.4 miles from Co. Rd. 7). The route of the SHT through the site is currently marked with orange flagging — please follow these flags to stay on the Trail. Note: There are two forestry roads that cross the Trail, and you may see blue painted forestry boundary markings on some trees. Be sure to watch for rectangular SHT blazes, and disregard the other boundary markings. Please proceed with caution through the site. Contact Lake County Forestry with questions/concerns at (218) 834-8340.
Guidebook and Databook Errata: