Autumn on the Superior Hiking Trail

Destination: North Shore of Lake Superior, Minnesota

| Activities: Hiking

Backpacker Magazine calls the Superior Hiking Trail one of the ten best trails in America - and we agree! This trail combines a true sense of remoteness with an incredible diversity of terrain and dramatic scenery. Offering outstanding views of Lake Superior and diverse ecosystems, it winds along the ridge-tops of the Sawtooth Mountain Range for 200 miles from Two Harbors to the Canadian Border. The fall foliage is truly spectacular with the oranges and reds of the sugar maples, and the bright yellow of birch and aspen. Each day you'll have a choice of a more moderate (3 to 5 miles) or a longer (6 to 10 miles) hike, and every evening we'll relax in lodging on the shores of Lake Superior. Maximum group size: 12


  • Hiking through the colorful Minnesota woods of golden aspen and red sugar maples
  • Gazing down from seven overlooks on Oberg Mountain
  • Sampling North Shore restaurants, particularly the Angry Trout
  • Having a choice of two hikes of different lengths each day
  • Visiting the totally charming town of Grand Marais

Departures and Prices

September 17 to September 22, 2022
$2095.00 - FULL
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September 24 to September 29, 2022
$2095.00 - FULL
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Five nights lodging. Three nights are in single occupancy rooms, the first and last night are double occupancy
  • All meals from breakfast on Sunday through our farewell lunch Thursday
  • Round-trip transportation from Duluth, MN
  • Luggage transport
Not included: Transportation to and from Duluth, MN, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and insurance.

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

We have rated this trip as both a 2 and a 3 because of the different choices of hikes each day, one longer and one shorter. Each night the guides will describe the trails and you can choose which appeals to you. Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

This is primarily a hiking trip on a wooded trail, full of roots and rocks, that runs along the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. The trail is rolling in nature, with moderate ascents and descents and may be muddy/slippery depending on recent rainfall. This is an excellent trip for both novice and experienced hikers and everyone who loves hiking in crisp fall air. Check out the HIKER GLOSSARY developed by longtime AGC guide Anne Flueckiger for more details. We spend the last night in the beautiful small town of Grand Marais, Minnesota, where there are interesting small shops and bookstores.

The first night is spent in a local hotel in Duluth, the Inn on Lake Superior. The next three nights will be spent at a premiere resort of the North Country, BlueFin Bay, a collection of condos, townhomes and lodge rooms located right on the shore of Lake Superior. We will stay in their shoreline condos with single occupancy bedrooms and shared bathrooms. Our last night will be spent in Grand Marais where we'll stay at Superior Inn and Suites, a well-located hotel close to the lake and to shops. Accommodations here will be double occupancy. Single supplements are available for the first night of the trip (hotel in Duluth) and the last night of the trip (hotel in Grand Marais) for an additional cost.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Today is arrival day! You are free to arrive in Duluth anytime today. It's a lovely city, right on the shores of Lake Superior, and an interesting place to spend some time if you can arrive early. Lodging tonight is included and our first formal get-together will be tomorrow. Suggestions of things to do and places to eat, along with the hotel name, will be included in the PreDeparture Document that you receive 4 months before the trip.
Breakfast is included with your hotel stay and is on your own for this first morning. Our first meeting will be in the lobby at 8:30AM for introductions and a few instructions before heading off to the beautiful north country! Our first stop is at Hawk Ridge, an open ridge just on the edge of Duluth where we can watch the hawk migration at its peak. Most raptors are reluctant to cross large bodies of water so when they migrate south and encounter Lake Superior, the birds naturally veer southwest along the lakeshore. Depending on the direction of the wind we may see hundreds to thousands of birds migrating overhead. Once we have had our fill of hawk watching, we begin our drive North along Lake Superior. We stop for a picnic lunch and a warm- up hike in Gooseberry Falls State Park, considered the "gateway" to the North Shore.  This loop hike will take us past beautiful waterfalls, to the shores of Lake Superior, along the river gorge, and past Civilian Conservation Corps log and stone structures. We will also stop at the visitor center to look at the interpretive displays before continuing the 45 minute drive up the North Shore to the small town of Tofte. For the next 3 nights we'll be staying at Bluefin Bay Resort, a collection of beautifully designed condos where the windows look out directly onto the lake. Hot tubs will be awaiting each night to help soothe any aches you may have from the day's hiking. Overnight Bluefin Bay B, L, D
After a hearty breakfast we head out on today's hike. Our hike goes from Cross River wayside to the Temperance River and, for those who want a longer hike, from the Temperance River up and over Carlton Peak to Britton Peak parking (8.8 miles). We all start together this morning, following a spur trail up a moderate grade to the junction with the Superior Hiking Trail. Turning north on the trail, we hike through lovely birch forest and over occasional open ridges with views of Lake Superior below. After 3.5 miles we reach the Temperance River, a roaring and deep river in a basaltic canyon. This is the perfect spot for our picnic lunch, giving us time to look at the kettles and falls of the upper river. After lunch our trail parallels the river, providing excellent views of the many falls in the river gorge. Those wanting a shorter day of hiking continue on to the parking area (4 miles total), while those wanting a longer hike cross to the opposite side of the river and continue heading North on the SHT (8.8 miles). After about a half mile the trail leaves the noise of the river and once again we are enveloped by the silence of the fern-filled woods. We follow the trail up a short, rocky ascent to the top of Carlton Peak where we are rewarded by sweeping views of both the Lake and the woods. This is our first opportunity to see many of the red, yellows, and oranges of the deciduous trees that grow inland from the Lake. After we have taken plenty of photos and had a rest, we continue down the other side of Carlton Peak, back into a spectacular birch forest, and continue another 1.5 miles to the parking lot at Britton Peak, where we meet our van. Tonight we go out for dinner at one of the resort restaurants. Overnight Bluefin Bay B, L, D
Today begins with a leisurely breakfast with great food and plenty of coffee. The section for today, a traverse from Oberg Mountain to Lutsen, is one of the oldest sections of the Superior Hiking Trail. We start with a hike around Oberg Mt (despite its name, the elevation gain is about 500 feet) a 2-mile loop trail off the SHT with seven different spectacular overlooks. For those who want a shorter day, we return to the vans at Oberg Parking and drive back to our condos at Bluefin to relax, perhaps sit in the sauna or use the swimming pool. For those wanting a longer hike, we continue along the trail from Oberg Mountain for 6.8 miles. This section of trail winds through boreal forests of birch, spruce, balsam fir, and alder, and then climbs to the top of Moose Mt. where the views in all directions are rewarding. There are more ups and downs on this section of trail, making this section a little more challenging. The last three miles go through a rich maple forest before emerging at the gorge of the Poplar River. We return to our condos for hot tubs, hot showers, and plenty of time to relax before our home cooked dinner this evening. B, L, D
We'll start this morning with packing up for our move to Grand Marais. For those wanting a shorter hike today, we drive north to the White Sky Rock trailhead and head south on the SHT to Lake Agnes. This hike is incredibly picturesque, as we climb up through lovely mixed forest, through a cedar "fairyland" to Lake Agnes.  We hike along the shore to a beautiful outcropping with great views of Lake Agnes and the colorful canopy that surround it.  We will have a snack and relax before returning to the van (2.6 miles total) and continuing on to the quaint town of Grand Marais. Grand Marais is a town of historical significance (it was initially an outpost of the Voyageurs), a modern day artists' colony, and a delightful place to spend time walking around.

For those wanting the longer hike, today we travel the section from Lutsen to the Caribou Trail (6.4 miles), a very pleasant and diverse section of the Trail. We return to our stopping point yesterday and continue North through a mature and colorful maple canopy. After a short break at a spectacular vista of the Poplar River valley, we continue on through a mix of birch/aspen/pine and spruce forest. Stretches parallel the Poplar river and along the shores of Lake Agnes. After lunch we hike through a cedar "fairyland", even down a tree-notched staircase. For those who want a bit more hiking, shortly before the end there is a short, but steep spur trail up to White Sky Rock, with a scenic view of Caribou Lake and its residents. Meeting back up at the van, we drive to Grand Marais to check into our hotel and have free time to explore this quaint lake-side town. Tonight we eat at the Angry Trout in Grand Marais, undoubtedly the best restaurant in the area and always a huge hit.
On this last day we will choose a shorter morning hike; alternatively you can opt to stay in Grand Marais, hike to Artist's Point, drink coffee at the Moose Junction cafe or simply sleep in. If you choose to hike, we will drive about 10 miles North of Grand Marais to Judge Magney State Park. Clarence R. Magney, a former mayor of Duluth and judge on the Minnesota Supreme Court, was instrumental in getting 11 state parks and scenic waysides established along the North Shore.

It seems fitting to take our final hike here, and we will hike to the highlight of the Park: the Devil's Kettle. The hike alongside the Brule River is magnificent just on its own, but the Falls of Devil's Kettle is the true destination. Here the river splits in two to flow around a mass of rhyolite rock. The eastern flow goes over a two-step, 50 foot waterfall and continues downstream. The western flow surges into a pothole, falling at least 10 feet, and disappears underground. It is believed the water rejoins the main channel of the river or has a separate outlet into Lake Superior, but it has never been located!

We hike back to the trailhead via the same trail, and return to Grand Marais to sadly pack up. Returning along Lake Superior, we'll pass the trails we hiked the last few days to Duluth. We'll stop at one more state park for a final picnic lunch along the way. We will be back in Duluth and to the airport by 3pm and you can plan to fly out anytime after 4pm. For those of you who drove and left your car at the beginning hotel, we will return you to the hotel to pick up your car. B, L

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.


(60 reviews)
4.6 Food
4.4 Lodging
4.7 Safety
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Most Recent

Susan R.
0 months ago

What made this trip special? Two of my favorite guides! (well, fave three guides- since Ikwe was there for a few days!) Finally getting on the Superior trip! Apologies for my delay in responding! The email was buried!!!

Leslie S.
0 months ago

It was wonderful to get out into nature on the beautiful trails. I was especially excited to see the leaves changing.

Anne K.
0 months ago

Beautiful views, comfortable places to stay, good mix of activity and relaxation, excellent guides.

Christine K.
0 months ago

The trails were pristine, with stunning views of fall colors, Lake Superior, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Our guides were knowledgeable, supportive and enthusiastic.

Caroline M.
0 months ago

I thought the leaders were FANTASTIC; the scenery, spectacular (the weather certainly helped); the hiking, challenging but fun; the accommodations, mostly perfect and the group dynamics, fun!

Elisabeth M.
0 months ago

Ikwe and Emily were fantastic guides who were both knowledgeable and fun! I thought the itinerary was excellent and liked that there were both long and short options. And our weather could not have been more perfect!

Nancy M.
0 months ago

Time with my sister and seeing a part of the country I had not previously visited. Our guides Ikwe & Emily were fabulous!

Anne M.
0 months ago

Carrie B.
0 months ago

Kathy S.
0 months ago

Fall colors and Lake Superior were beautiful. Weather was perfect. New trail itenery was great. Loved short and long hike options. Our guides were knowledgeable and sweet. They were excellent drivers and cooks. They even remembered my birthday. The places we stayed were wonderful. The ladies on the trip were friendly.

Suzanne W.
0 months ago

excellent guides companionship of great group of women

Rita A.
1 month ago

This was my first time on the North Shore and on the Superior Hiking Trail. Lake Superior is absolutely amazing!! I had previously traveled with four of the gals who were on this trip. That was also special.

Judy K.
1 month ago

The group. Everyone was easy going

Jill W.
1 month ago

Beautiful scenery and wonderful guides!

Barbara F.
1 month ago

The people

Eenee F.
1 month ago

Great Guides in Anne, Chris and Ikwe. Wonderful accommodations. Good food at the Blue Fin Restaurant and the Angry Trout. All the participants got along well.

Rebecca L.
1 month ago

Janet H.
1 month ago

Cynthia C.
1 month ago

Knowledgeable guides. Beautifull scenery. Lovely accomodations

Cathy P.
1 month ago

Great guides, great group, great hiking!

Machelle B.
1 month ago

The guides were very nice

Jane R.
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful part of the country. Wonderful guides and wonderful travelers.

Geri N.
1 year ago

Exceeded my expectations.

Sj T.
1 year ago

Linda U.
1 year ago

Lorna C.
1 year ago

Laura S.
2 years ago


Bettina B.
2 years ago

Stephanie S.
2 years ago

Beautiful scenery, enjoyable hiking, and flexible options for each day made this a great trip.

Beth N.
2 years ago

I very much appreciated the option for a long or short hike most days (weather permitting). Not being a regular hiker, I was concerned that I would think I could handle a long hike every day, and my body would disagree (which it did).

Jennifer K.
2 years ago

The trails were absolutely beautiful. I had never been to that area before and had no idea the Superior trail existed. The views from the trail were fantastic and the guides were great. The accommodations were also very nice. Staying right on the water was a real plus.

Laura R.
2 years ago

I loved the trip. Hiking on the SHT was so beautiful, as was Lake Superior. Great lodging at the Bluefin. It was very luxurious!

Carol C.
2 years ago

Beautiful country, trip well organized, great hikes, accommodations comfortable and a good group of women.

Kristine C.
2 years ago

Megan L.
2 years ago

Brenda M.
2 years ago

Joan S.
2 years ago

Dana F.
2 years ago

The hiking was very challenging! Food was great!

Colleen B.
2 years ago

Bettina B.
2 years ago

The location and the people.

Katherine W.
2 years ago

Beautiful place, perfect weather, hiking with new friends

Lynn W.
2 years ago

A group of interesting and intelligent women. Guides were personable and fun. Super accommodations right on Lake Superior! The trails were fun and lovely.

Gail M.
2 years ago

The hikes were beautiful and challenging for me

Norine M.
2 years ago

Maria S.
3 years ago

Wonderful and attentive guides Brenda and Ann. It wasn't an expectation per se, but didn't expect to share a bathroom at Blue Fin Bay

Frances G.
3 years ago

It was my 1st domestic trip with AGC so I was not sure what to expect. I really enjoyed exploring the lake area. I loved the places we stayed. The hikes were lovely. The group was great and so were our guides.

Elizabeth F.
3 years ago

The hiking was wonderful,even in rainy weather. Spectacular fall views. Enjoyed learning about the trees, plants, mushrooms, etc., along the trail. Biggest highlight was spending time with a terrific group of women, including the two guides.

Mary H.
3 years ago

Great trip. As described in itinerary. I was disappointed not to stop at Hawk Ridge either coming or going, as that was a special thing I was anticipating, but weather and timing did not cooperate.

Joann K.
3 years ago

I love it all.

Ramona K.
3 years ago

We saw the peak of the fall colours! The trails were excellent.

Kristie T.
3 years ago

Roberta P.
4 years ago

i was not sure i could keep up on long trips as i walk lots and for long times but at my own pace - i succeeded even though i was always at end i hope Carol who brought up the rear did not miss out on being in the midst of the group the magnificent bubbles formed from foam on Cascade river

Wendy G.
4 years ago

Scenery, combination of hike options, guides- all wonderful!

Elizabeth H.
4 years ago

I loved the fall colors and the beautiful lake. I liked the variety of options each day.

Andrea C.
4 years ago

The location was just superb... it was and area of the country I had wanted to hike for a long time.. our guides, Anne, and Anna Claire, were very accommodating and knowledgeable..... the group of women on the tour were a very congenial group which made for a pleasant experience,too.....I was just a wonderful trip...

Mary P.
4 years ago

Friendly people.

Leah K.
4 years ago

Vistas, fall foliage and great group of women and guides !

Susan H.
5 years ago

This was my second trip with AGC

Trudy M.
5 years ago

I liked the diversity of the trails we hiked. Some were level through woods, some rocky or full of roots, some were muddy/boggy and challenging. The scenery was spectacular once you came on to an open bluff area.

Patty B.
5 years ago

The highlight of the trip for me was finally meeting Deb. And I felt very privileged having her show us that part of the country - essentially her back yard.

  1. Where do we eat?

    The guides will be cooking breakfasts and some dinners at your lodging; other dinners will be at restaurants where you can order off the menu. At breakfast the guides will put out 'fixings' for lunch and you will pack your own lunch and snacks.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room the first and last nights. Otherwise we will stay in condos where everyone has her own bedroom. Some bedrooms will have their own bathroom and others will share a bathroom (maximum 2), rooms will be assigned randomly, unless you request a roommate.
  4. Do you guarantee excellent fall foliage?

    We wish we could! We can say that unless it is a highly unusual year, there will be fall foliage. But when the peak occurs and how intense it is varies from year to year.