Quantcast

Hiking Posts

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Nemadji River Valley

If you’ve ever hiked Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail to the Wisconsin border you know the trail ends there, but doesn’t really end there. Despite a sign on a tree that reads “Southern Terminus of SHT” and a separate post sticking out of the ground that reads “Not a trail,” there is clearly a trail there leading into Wisconsin. But it doesn’t go far.

The rest of the text on the terminus sign explains: “Spur trail from here to be built by North Country Trail to a parking lot in WI. Trail now dead-ends ahead.”

I explained all that 17 months ago in a Saturday Essay titled: “North Country Trail: Wood Tick Flats,” which was the first report on my quest to hike the North Country Trail across Wisconsin. That summer I covered exactly zero miles on the trail, which is not a great start to a 200-mile journey. If you read that first North Country Trail essay from June 2017 you know I didn’t hike on the trail that day because the grass was long and loaded with ticks. So I waited and saved the hike for a day with more favorable conditions … 17 months later.

What I lack in ambition I make up for with tenacity, right? My motto is: “Never quit. Take a nap and try again later when you feel more up to it.”

Superior Hiking Trail 100-mile Solo Trip

Fall is prime hiking season around Lake Superior. Linda O’Connell of Onalaska went on a 100-mile journey from the Canadian Border to Temperance River State Park in early September and put together this 37-minute documentary.

“Beautiful views, wrong turns and good food were experienced,” she writes in the YouTube description. “I am just an average American 50-year-old woman trying to get out of my comfort zone. Life is short. Make it count.”

North Country Trail Hike 100 Challenge … accepted

Linda O’Connell of Onalaska recently completed a North Country Trail Hike 100 Challenge. She went on four separate hikes from June to October, passing through Pictured Rocks, the Chequamegon National Forest, Brule River State Park Forest and Douglas County Forest, to reach a total of 100 miles.

“I had some struggles along the way,” she writes on the YouTube description. “I fell at Cheq & had blisters at Superior but I managed to achieve the 100 miles.”

Hiking Carlton Peak during fall colors

Video by Bill Thornton; music by Bill Frisell.

Portion of Chester Park Trail washed out

A segment of the hiking trail in Chester Park on the east side of the creek, between Skyline Parkway and the Eighth Street bridge, washed out during recent heavy rainfall. Trail closure signs are in place leading up to and around the area, along with orange fencing.

Duluth’s Parks and Recreation Division requests hikers avoid the washed-out area and instead use the trail on the west side of Chester Creek. The pedestrian bridge near Eighth Street is open for trail users to safely cross the creek to the west side.

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Wood Tick Flats

You can’t start hiking the North Country Trail at the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin without first hiking in from one direction or the other. If you want to go southeast through Wisconsin, for example, you need to start on Wild Valley Road in Minnesota and hike in for 3.2 miles.

I don’t know how far into Wisconsin you’ll get if you try that. As of the date of this post, the interactive map on northcountrytrail.org is unclear. It’s hard to tell if the trail ends cold in the woods, dumps out on a highway or carries on uninterrupted.

On the gorgeous Sunday afternoon of June 4, I tried to solve this mystery and failed. It was still a fun scouting mission, though, and that’s what I’ll share in this essay. Obviously I could call the trail association or maybe spend an hour scrolling through Facebook posts to obtain the knowledge I seek about the state of the trail, but I’d still want to see it for myself, so why bother with the hands-off research, right?

It has been thoroughly documented in a series of 13 essays on this very website that I slowly and somewhat methodically hiked all of Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail in sporadic spurts from 2000 to 2016. That journey started at the Canadian border and ended on the Wisconsin border. But the trail doesn’t stop at either of those points. The SHT is part of a much longer trail — the North Country National Scenic Trail — which extends to Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota to the west and Crown Point in New York to the east.

UMD Spring Break on the Appalachian Trail

Videographer David Cowardin tags along on a University of Minnesota Duluth Rec Sports’ spring break trip hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail in the state of Virginia.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Introduction

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe yearning for adventure is a pretty common human trait, along with the practical good sense to not get into a situation you can’t handle. The old Scout Motto is “be prepared,” a creed intended to make one think practically and plan ahead for potential disaster. There’s a colorful expression for those who are not ready for life’s misfortunes; they find themselves “up Shit Creek without a paddle.”

Not wanting to drift helplessly in liquid feces, people often put off serious adventure and plan to check their dreams off a “Bucket List” at some point between the impractical now and the day before it becomes physically impossible. When a Bucket List goes as planned, it’s a beautiful thing. More often than not, of course, it ends up being a list of unfulfilled wishes. That’s generally preferable to premature death in pursuit of pretty scenery, so lament accordingly.

There are also those perfect people in the primes of their lives, dressing up in expensive wingsuits and gliding majestically down from the world’s most spectacular cliffs. Are they the sons and daughters of the obscenely wealthy or did they persuade a gear manufacturer to sponsor them? Maybe both. Don’t be jealous. You probably wouldn’t take that leap if you could. I know I wouldn’t.

North Country Trail nears connection to Superior Hiking Trail

North Country Trail at MN and WI border

A new 4-mile section of the North Country National Scenic Trail, located 17 miles southwest of Superior, opens Saturday, bringing the trail another step closer to connecting to Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail.

The new segment crosses the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s MacQuarrie Wetlands in western Douglas County and features scenic overlooks of the Nemadji River Valley and the basin of Glacial Lake Duluth. It also crosses a section of Douglas County Forest and Wisconsin DNR lands.

Link to driving map

Fifteen-year journey on the Superior Hiking Trail complete

SHT VictoryThe champagne bottle popped shortly after noon today. In what must rank among the laziest accomplishments in endurance sports history, I completed the final stretch of my quest to hike the entire Superior Hiking Trail … 15 years after I started.

The 296-mile journey was tackled in about 45 different hikes spread out between Sept. 24, 2000, and Oct. 11, 2015. The longest single hike was about 15 miles. The shortest was today’s hike, which was less than a mile. Perhaps some day I’ll gather stories from the journey into some sort of narrative, but for today I’ll just present a simple breakdown of the mileage per year.

Video Archive: Paul Hlina on the Superior Hiking Trail in 1995

With a fused spine and partially paralyzed legs, Paul Hlina hiked the entire Superior Hiking Trail on crutches in 1995. He is credited as the first person to through-hike the trail, which at the time spanned almost 200 miles. It’s about a 300-mile trail today.

Grassy Point Trail closed?

Does anyone know why the Grassy Point trail is blocked off about halfway down and what the time frame is for reopening? My daughters and I were bummed when we couldn’t get down to the water this morning.

Web Woods Trail

Web Woods Trail entrance

New hiking paths pop up in Duluth faster than I can keep track of them. Web Woods Trail was in the news when it opened in 2012, but I didn’t check it out back then, and soon I’d forgotten about it. So when my wife asked if I’d ever been on the trail off Oak Bend Drive in Duluth Heights all I could respond with is: “What trail?

Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail

Greg Poulton and Logan Faulkingham, experiential education students at Minnesota State University, Mankato, provide advice for people new to backpacking who would like to take a trip on the Superior Hiking Trail. It features tips and tricks for menu planning, equipment selection, packing and cooking, plus footage of the fall colors, waterfalls, Lake Superior and a little wildlife.

Great Lakes Trail

Trailblazing

If all the existing trails, trails under construction and trails in the planning phases in Duluth aren’t quite enough, here’s a rather ambitious plan that would upset a few local backyards. The Detroit Free Press reports of a plan for the “Great Lakes Trail” — a 10,900-mile trail spanning at least eight states and two Canadian provinces, following the shores of the five Great Lakes.

World’s longest marked trail proposed around Great Lakes

As the Great Lakes states were admitted into the Union, the federal government granted them the lake beds and waters of the Great Lakes up to the ordinary high-water mark — from the point on the bank or shore where continuous wave action has made a distinct mark, to the water.

This was affirmed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1894, in the Shively v. Bowlby case. The justices found that lands below the high-water mark were “for the benefit of the whole people.” (This may come as news to owners of $750,000 lakefront homes whose deed tells them the shoreline is theirs.)