Trail Conditions

Current Trail Conditions

Staff of the Superior Hiking Trail Association update this page as soon as we get noteworthy conditions reports.

Wildfire Impact Updates (updated September 7, 2021) 

SHT Campsites Reopen – All SHT campsites reopened. The MN DNR and the Superior National Forest have lifted their restrictions on dispersed camping and overnight use. While overnight camping will be allowed, the fire danger remains high and the fire ban is still in place on the entire SHT and accompanying lands. Please continue to do your part as a steward of the Trail. 

While the situation has improved slightly, we encourage you to be aware of the following conditions.

  • Fire danger remains high
  • Extreme drought continues
  • Water sources are unreliable 

Things to consider before dayhiking or backpacking on the SHT right now:

NO campfires are allowed. There is a complete fire ban across northern Minnesota. Do not have a campfire at ANY Superior Hiking Trail campsite. Conditions are extremely dangerous right now.  Only liquid backpacking stoves with on/off switches are allowed. For more information on state restrictions, visit this page.  For more information on Superior National Forest restrictions, visit this page.

Air quality has been poor. There are fires burning in the Superior National Forest and Canada which are impacting the air quality in northern Minnesota. Be prepared and have an exit plan. Air quality conditions can change quickly and dramatically.  Be diligent and follow the Pollution Control Agency’s air quality reports by nearest town or zip code, follow the US Forest Service Superior National Forest updates, check the MN DNR alerts as well. Use the following resources to check on the current conditions before heading out on the Trail:                                             www.pca.state.mn.us/air/current-air-quality & https://www.airnow.gov/

July 26 Wind Event Updates (Updated September 7, 2021):

A major wind event has deeply impacted the southern 100 miles of the SHT. Most sections impacted have had at least a preliminary sweep to mitigate the damage. Gooseberry Multi-Group Site should not yet be used.

ALL SHT Campsites must be used with caution, particularly between Duluth and Finland (Martin Road Trailhead to Crosby Manitou State Park Trailhead). Please inspect the trees around and above the tent pad to ensure you are setting up your tent or hammock out of harm’s way. Remember to look up — the tops of many trees broke off during this past storm, and not all have fallen to the ground yet. 

Trailhead Updates and Issues (updated September 7, 2021):

  • 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.
  • Wild Valley Road Trailhead had a car broken into in August 2021.
  • Reeves Road Trailhead had cars broken into in August 2021.
  • 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.

Trail Closures, Detours, and Other Issues (updated September 14, 2021):

  • 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.
  • 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
  • Spirit Mountain Grand Avenue Chalet Trailhead to Waseca Street Trailhead: Active construction is taking place on the snowmobile bridge on Kingsbury Creek. A short section of the SHT on the west side of Kingsbury Creek is inaccessible due to construction. Please avoid this area during construction. We anticipate this closure to last only 1.5-2 weeks and hope it will reopen by mid-August. GPS coordinates for the project are: 46.729657674597405, -92.19883822950763
  • 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.
  • Hartley Nature Center Trailhead to Martin Road Trailhead: Vermilion Rd. is undergoing utility replacement work and a very short section of the road is currently closed. Hikers should be able to walk through the work activity but vehicles cannot pass. There will be more work on Vermilion Rd. in the near future and may include paving the now gravel section between the cemeteries.
  • 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.
  • West Castle Danger Road to Gooseberry Falls State Park: A small wooden structure has failed near Middle Gooseberry Campsite. Please avoid stepping onto the structure.
  • 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.  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, generally not due to water but due to a steep approach to the crossing. It is possible to get through, just use extra caution. The approximate location is: 47°43’44.5″N 90°32’12.1″W. 
  • Lindskog Road to Cook County Road 14: The new Kimball Creek bridge has been installed but currently lacks railings. Use caution when crossing and keep children in hand.

Animal Advisories (updated August 16, 2021):

  • We are anticipating a more robust bear encounter season than usual due to the drought. Here’s a helpful guide to reduce the chances of bear encounters: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/livingwith_wildlife/bears/camping.html
  • 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.
  • West Fork Kadunce Campsite has a bear hanging around. This bear likely roams nearby campsites such as Kadunce River Campsite and Crow Creek Campsite. These campsites are all open and should be fine to camp at, just use extra precaution with your food.

Water Advisories (updated September 14, 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 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.

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. 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.
    • 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 August 5, 2021):

  • 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.
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