Superior Hiking Trail: Martin Road to Lismore Road

There hasn’t been a lot of hype surrounding it, but as of June 1 the Superior Hiking Trail is complete from Duluth to Two Harbors. The missing link is no longer missing. You can now hike the trail from Jay Cooke State Park to the Canadian border … you know, if you feel like a nice 296-mile trek.

Above is the starting point of the Duluth to Two Harbors section, from the trailhead at Martin Road on the Duluth / Rice Lake Township border. The start of this section is cut on the old North Shore State Trail, and a sign there pays tribute to C. J. Ramstad, “Mr. Snowmobiling.”

Andrew Slade’s blog tipped me off about the completion of this section of the trail. Slade noted the section off Martin Road is more like the “English countryside” than what SHT hikers will be used to … and he’s right.

Because some of the trail follows a snowmobile trail, the grass is longer than most SHT hikes, but I only picked up one tick in 6.9 miles (plus 6.9 miles back). Above is a section that someone mowed.

Here is the spot where the trail splits. Follow the deep grass to the right if you’re a moron and want to hike the overgrown snowmobile trail; hook left to get into the woods for the more typical SHT experience.

Watch out for gooey blacktop while crossing Riley Road.

The trees are mostly aspen, maple and basswood.

There are several swampy ponds along the hike.

Shortly after crossing these skunk remains, I saw a black bear scampering away — disappearing too fast for my camera.

The biting flies are tolerable, but kind of annoying. I probably killed about 40 of them, so you have fewer to bother you.

The Lester River crosses the trail about one mile from the next trailhead at Lismore Road. More adventures await beyond that.



about 11 years ago

Neat, looks beautiful. 

Does any of the SHT follow any abandoned railway lines? I know there's a lot of old logging railroads criss crossing the north around here.

I like when they reuse old lines for trails, rather than being reclaimed by man and/or nature, and forgotten.


about 11 years ago

Glad to see Larry Sampson and crew made it out there to mow. 

Ran it a few weeks ago, and this moron missed the turn (it was knee to thigh deep grass) and did an additional mile or two of NSST. Ugh! The deer flies were indeed a nuisance that day. 9 miles of slogging through tall grass in their company was enough. 

The section from Normanna north is pretty cool as well, much more traditional SHT than this section. 

I give them credit for creating a great route amongst so much private land. 

The trail does use some old railroad grades north, in the Gooseberry area (Nestor Grade) and a lovely section between Crosby-Manitou and Sugarloaf (nice to run on after 70+ miles of technical trail during Sawtooth). 

By the way, Larry is always looking for help with trail maintenance. Check out the SHT Facebook page or the website for details.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago


Update: My remark about only picking up one tick might have been inaccurate, according to this mark that's been hiding on the side of my upper leg.


about 11 years ago

Has PDD ever covered the North Country Trail?  It is one of only eleven National Scenic Trails authorized by Congress (the Appalachian Trail being another) and it is the longest hiking trail in the nation.  It goes through our region - yet so many people know little or nothing about it.

Wikipedia: North Country Trail


about 11 years ago

Ah, I just realized the Superior Hiking Trail has been included as a subsegment of the North Country Trail.  Interesting.


about 11 years ago

Yet many who've attempted to navigate the great trail have been rendered mute by a strange malady experts are attributing to the profound sense of isolation and boredom hikers experience attempting to cross North Dakota on foot, along with a so-called "extreme sense of regret" they simply didn't "thumb it" out to Montana.

Russell Sackworth, native of Holyoke, was said to have curled into the fetal position and, weeping like a child upon reaching the Minnesota state line, asked passersby to "kill him and end his misery" because he "couldn't take this shit no more."

Soren d'Hillside

about 11 years ago

Been swimming in the big lake? That appears to be a fresh lamprey kiss.


about 11 years ago

Any recommended bits of this?

I've done just about every bit of the SHT in the Duluth area, everything between this trailhead and Ely's Peak, other than some of the longer segments which run along roads. Most if it during hour lunch breaks or long (1.5-2.5) lunch breaks where I've taken an hour or two of vacation. Given the short times, I try to prioritize the challenging, unique, and gorgeous bits.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

I've only hiked a small portion of the Duluth to Two Harbors stretch, so I can't say yet if anything is particularly gorgeous. So far I would say the Duluth segments and parts north of Two Harbors are much, much better ... but like I said, I haven't hiked it all yet.

And it should be noted that when the biting flies die off (which is starting to happen) and the fall colors start popping (which will be soon), every part of the trail will be gorgeous.

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