Best Hikes in Superior National Forest (MN)

Superior National Forest Overview

Superior National Forest is located in northeastern Minnesota between the Canadian border and the north shores of Lake Superior. Despite its vast remote settings, it is the eighth most visited national forest in the nation. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area occupies more than 1 million acres of the forest where canoers can travel along interconnected fresh waters near land as well as over historic portages once used by Native American tribes. The forest has many incredible recreation opportunities including but not limited to the best hikes in Superior National Forest described below.

StateMinnesota
Nearest Metro AreaDuluth, MN
Area Size3,900,000 acres
EstablishedFebruary 13, 1909
Hiking Trails400 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Superior National Forest

(*** = best hikes in Superior National Forest)

Caribou Rock Trail – 7 miles out and back
Bearskin Lake
Bearskin Lake, Photo by USFWS Midwest Region

The Caribou Rock Trail is a 1.5 – 7 mile hike.  The first 3/4 of a mile takes you to an overlook of West Bearskin Lake; many hikers turn around here but it is worth carrying on.  Continue on about another mile and you will be overlooking Moss Lake.  Continue on through some rugged and scenic terrain to Stairway Portage and Rose Lake. There are multiple viewpoints along the way of beautiful Boundary Waters lakes from the cliffs’ edge.

Eagle Mountain Trail*** – 6.7 miles out and back
20210913-FS-Superior-JoannaGilkesonUSFS BWCAW Eagle Mountain Trail
Eagle Mountain Trail, Photo by Superior National Forest

Great hike to the top of Eagle Mountain, which at 2301′ is the highest point in Minnesota. Made of granite, the peak is part of a large rock formation called the Duluth Complex. The granite formed when magma cooled very slowly, miles under the earth’s surface. This slow cooling allowed the rock to form hard crystals, making it resistant to erosion by glaciers. Along the flat ridge-top are excellent vistas. The highest point is marked by a brass survey disk on the west side of the ridge.

Kadunce River Trail – 1.1 miles out and back
Kadunce River at Lake Superior, Minnesota
Kadunce River at Lake Superior, Photo by Tony Webster

The area consists of several miles of interconnected loops through forest and openings. Follow the trail alongside the river within the forested area as it provides the best experience. This area was developed for the conservation of ruffed grouse and woodcock and to provide hunting opportunities for these upland birds. They also provide good habitat for birders to observe these and other species.

Oberg Mountain Trail*** – 2.3 mile loop
Autumn leaves around Oberg Lake viewed from the Oberg Mountain Trail Head in Tofte, Minnesota
Autumn leaves around Oberg Lake, Photo by Lorie Shaull

This trail is a spur trail off of the Superior Hiking Trail. High overlooks along Oberg give wonderful views of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake and Moose Mountain.

Pincushion Mountain – 4.5 miles out and back
20211004-FS-Superior-JoannaGilkesonUSFS Pincushion Mountain Hiking Trail
Pincushion Mountain Hiking Trail, Photo by Superior National Forest

Pincushion Mountain provides a spectacular view down the mountain to the town of Grand Marias and its harbor and lighthouse.

Superior Hiking Trail*** – 310.0 miles one-way
Superior Hiking Trail: Bean and Bear Lakes, Silver Bay 6/17/20
Bean and Bear Lakes, Photo by Sharon Mollerus

One of the best long-distance hiking trails in the country that follows the rocky ridges overlooking Lake Superior for most of its length. There are numerous sections of the trail that hikers can complete rather than the entire thru-hike with trailheads located every 3-11 miles throughout. Best sections of the SHT include Oberg Mountain Loop (see above), the Bean and Bear Lake loop in Silver Bay, and the 14.5 mile out and back section near Two Harbors.

Featured Image: Superior National Forest, Photo by Smokemob

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