From: September 24 to September 28, 2017

Destination: North Shore of Lake Superior, Minnesota

  • Lodge to Lodge On the Superior Hiking Trail - FULL

    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 a different one of the North Shore's many fine lodges and resorts.
    Download Trip Summary and Packing List
  • Sunday, September 24: Our hiking trip starts at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday when we pick you up at a designated meeting place in Duluth. We first stop 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. They concentrate in impressive numbers on the bluffs overlooking East Duluth and can be easily seen from the overlook at Hawk Ridge.  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, watch a park video, visit the Nature Store, or simply sit in front of the stone fireplace. We then continue driving up the North Shore, about 45 minutes,  to the small town of Tofte.  We spend tonight at Bluefin Bay, a collection of beautiful designed condos where the windows look out directly onto the lake.

    Monday, September 25:  After a hearty breakfast we pack up our luggage and set out for our hike.  Today's 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.  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.  The colors often go on as far as we can see.

    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.  Whichever hike you have chosen, we transfer to the mountainside resort of Lutsen for the next two nights.  Located uphill from the lake, the property is surrounded by hillsides ablaze in fall color. Hot tubs help soothe any aches you may have from the day's hiking.  After checking into our rooms, having hot showers and enjoying our new condos, we go out for dinner at one of the Resort restaurants.  

    Tuesday, September 26: 
    Since we don't have to pack up this morning, we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast with great food and plenty of coffee. Today's section, 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 it's 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 Caribou Highlands to relax.  A pleasant afternoon option from the resort is to take the gondola up Moose Mountain and back down, or if you want more hiking, you can also hike back down (3.5 miles).

    For those wanting a longer hike, we continue along the trail from Oberg Mountain for 6.8 miles directly back to our condos. 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 and hot showers, and plenty of time to relax before our homecooked dinner this evening. 

    Wednesday, September 27
    :   We pack up again this morning and after another hearty breakfast begin our final day of hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail.  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 leave directly from Caribou Highlands up to the trailhead 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.

    Thursday, September 28: On this last day we will choose a shorter morning hike or 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. We head back down along Lake Superior, passing the trails we have 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. 
  • $1595 (see this page for travel discounts) $300 deposit. There are a limited number of single rooms for those who prefer their own room for an additional $250. You can see our cancellation policies here.

    Trip Includes

    • Experienced guides
    • Four nights lodging. One night is in single occupancy rooms, the others are double occupancy
    • All meals from lunch on Sunday through our farewell lunch Thursday
    • Round-trip transportation from Duluth, MN
    • Luggage transport
    Not included: transportation to Duluth, MN, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, personal snacks

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    We can always accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, and omnivore diets. On most trips we can also accommodate lactose-free, vegan, and other restricted diets, although in some locations the availability of special food may be limited. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking through the colorful Minnesota woods of golden aspen and red sugar maples
  • Gazing down from seven overlooks on Oberg Mountain
  • Sampling different 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

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