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Trail Conditions

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Current Trail Conditions

Conditions as of April 22:  April isn’t quite spring on the North Shore!

There’s still snow on much of the SHT and mud where the snow has melted. Expect the Trail to be some mix of snow, ice, mud, and pooled water. Stairways and steep hills may be impassible. The North Shore often gets snowstorms even towards the end of April – there’s no guarantee that our recent snow storm was the last. Plan your adventures accordingly and do not expect spring conditions yet!

Our contractor Han Taylor has been itching to get back on the Trail as much or more as you have been. Last week, he reported 18 inches in the Beaver Bay area, 22-26 inches in the Finland area, 27-30 in the Grand Marais area. Where there’s not snow, there’s ice.

The MN DNR maintains this snow-coverage map, generally updated once per week.

Here are some photos of April Trail conditions. We are many weeks or even a month away from conditions that are this “good.”


TRAILHEAD CLOSURES AND ISSUES (updated April 15, 2019):

  • 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.  The land the SHT passes through at Lismore Rd. was logged recently and will require extensive work to fix.
  • Sonju Lake Road Trailhead is not usable in early spring because Sonju Lake Road is impassible right now. It will not be in good enough condition to drive for another couple of weeks at least. Be kind to Sonju Lake Road and let it dry out.
  • Jackson Lake Road, Andy Lake Road, and Otter Lake Road: These roads are generally not plowed at all during winter and are late to re-open in spring, often being impassible due to mud, holes, and washouts. Wait for a condition report on these roads before assuming you can drive on them.

TRAIL DETOURS AND ISSUES (updated April 22, 2019):

  • As of April 5, the City of Duluth has temporarily closed all natural surface trails inside the city, including the Superior Hiking Trail, to prevent damage during the spring thaw. This section of the SHT will reopen when trail conditions improve.
  • As of October 25, the City of Duluth had closed some of the Lakewalk due to an October windstorm, but reopened the section from the pier to Endion Station. We will offer an alternate route once things settle down there. For now, plan to use this alternate route between Leif Erickson Park and Endion Station.
  • Martin Road to Lismore Road: The northernmost portion of this section, from the bridge over Lester River to the Lismore Road Trailhead, recently endured a logging operation and is not recommended for travel until it is cleared.
  • Normanna Road to Sucker River Trailhead: Several large trees have come down across the Trail, and recent logging activity has made the SHT difficult to navigate through this section. You should be able to walk around most of the downed trees, but be careful not to lose track of the Trail. Unless you’re familiar with the route through the area, we advise you stay off until this section has been cleared and re-blazed.
  • The Gooseberry Re-route: 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 sparsely-signed 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 at about 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.
  • Cook County windstorm: A heavy windstorm on October 3rd with an additional wind event on October 10 have severely impacted the Superior Hiking Trail. We estimate, based on reports from Trail users and our own assessments, that the number of downed trees is in the high hundreds. Most of these will not be able to be removed until spring chainsaw clearing. For more information, check out our recent blog post on the storm.The US Forest Service has cleared two sections of heavily-impacted Trail for us: Pincushion to Cook County Road 58 and Cook County Road 58 to Cook County Road 14 (southwestern crossing). Expect all other sections of SHT north of Grand Marais to be severely impacted by many downed trees.
    Specific reports as follows:

    • Britton Peak to Oberg Mountain: There are some downed trees in this section but not as many as other parts of Cook County.
    • Oberg Mountain Lutsen and Lutsen to Caribou Trail: We’ve received reports of many downed trees. Take caution and be prepared to climb over or around downed trees until we can clear them.
    • Cook County Road 14 to Kadunce River Wayside: Remains uncleared. Expect downed trees.
    • Kadunce River Wayside Spur Trail to Judge Magney SP: We’ve cleared a few dozen trees on the spur from Hwy. 61 to the footbridge. However, we also had a report of many snarly trees down between Kadunce River and the Lakewalk.
    • Judge Magney SP to Cook County Road 70 (Camp 20 Rd.): Be ready for some serious tree-climbing. For some reason, the blown-down trees in this stretch of the Trail decided to all fall onto the Trail, not perpendicular to it. Be careful: you could lose your way here, until hikers beat down detours.
    • Cook County Road 70 (Camp 20 Rd.) to Jackson Lake Road: Expect mostly clear sailing between Camp 20 Rd. and where the SHT goes back into the woods off Tom Lake Rd. From that point, be ready to high-step, crunch under or squeeze around 100+ downed trees.

ANIMAL ADVISORY (updated December 27):

  • The Finland area (particularly near the SHT parking lot on County Road 7) has been experiencing increased wolf activity. While there has not been any aggression shown towards humans, 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.

WATER CONDITIONS (updated March 19, 2019):

With heavy snowfall this season, we anticipate a longer and more dramatic spring melt than usual. This may make certain water crossings dangerous or impassible during the months of March, April, and May. Specific conditions will be posted as we get them.

  • Co Rd 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 or during spring snowmelt season. Here is a roadwalk detour map  you can print and bring with you, but we suggest hiking to the river to assess it before concluding that a roadwalk is necessary.
  • Co Rd 301/Fors Road to Castle Danger: Several small bridges washed out during a recent heavy rain event. 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:  Split Rock River Bridge is out. Long-distance hikers can take spur trails to continue their hike through 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.
  • Split Rock and Beaver Bay: Just north of Fault Line Creek Campsite, a short section of the trail is flooded due to persistent beavers. The trail is fordable, but prepare for wet feet and legs. Some hikers have walked across the beaver dam.
  • 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, hike it counter-clockwise – get to Trout Creek first, not at the end of your hike, just in case.

LOGGING (updated April 22, 2019):

  • Between Duluth and Two Harbors, there have been several forest management logging 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 loggers to disrupt as little of the SHT as possible.
    • Martin Road to Lismore Road: a private landowner is logging near the Lismore Trailhead. See closure notice above.
    • 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.
    • Normanna Road to Sucker River Trailhead: Several large trees have come down across the Trail, and recent logging activity has made the SHT difficult to navigate through this section. You should be able to walk around most of the downed trees, but be careful not to lose track of the Trail. Unless you’re familiar with the route through the area, we advise you stay off until this section has been cleared and re-blazed.
    • Rossini Road area: There has been logging north of Rossini Road.
  • Cook County Rd. 6 area: There has been an active logging operation beginning at the point where the SHT crosses County Rd. 6 heading east and continuing near the section of trail shared with the North Shore State Trail.
  • There was logging south of Jackson Lake Road. Woodland Caribou Pond Campsite has been compromised in the process and is currently missing its sign. Look for a tipi constructed to mark the campsite entrance.
  • North of Jackson Lake Road, logging took place this summer.
  • Otter Lake Road area: There was a logging operation south of Otter Lake Road that has turned about a mile of the SHT into a logging road. Follow carsonite posts and the Trail should be easy to follow.

8th EDITION GUIDE UPDATES

Updates to the Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail, 8th Edition: Things are always changing. Check out the PDF: 8th Edition Errata

Problem Report Form

Report of Trail Condition, Problem, or Maintenance Needed:

(e.g. problem with bridges, downed trees, erosion, trail markers, or campsites)


(please use nearest trailhead, campsite, or natural feature as a reference point, and state mileage from that point and whether going northbound or southbound from the feature. Give GPS waypoints if you have them.)

Is the trail passable?

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