Hikes for the Whole Family
Six top Superior Hiking Trail treks, plus the secret of “lollipop power”
Here’s the most important tip for hiking with kids: leave them wanting more.
Kids can go farther than you think, but you have to keep them interested or a fun family hike can turn into a miserable slog. Luckily, the North Shore has day trips with attention-getting views and lots of “wow” per mile. So grab your kids and head for the hills.
Afterward, make sure “hiking” equals “fun.” Stop at the local ice cream or pie establishment for a reward. You—oops, they —deserve it.
If you’re talking about walking in the Northern Wilds, you’ll eventually mention the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). The queen of North Shore hiking is 275 miles long, with a 39-mile section right through Duluth. The SHT is full of day trips that are just right for families. Here are six of them. Details at
This gem of a trip starts at the Munger Trail trailhead at 123rd Avenue West off Beck’s Road. This 1.8-mile round trip starts down the paved Munger Trail. Very quickly, you start up open ledges with fantastic views of the St. Louis River. Find the 300-foot spur to the summit and tuck into a picnic lunch.
This stand-alone system is connected to the SHT by a spur. Find the easternmost section of Skyline in Duluth and drive east until you see an informational kiosk. There are several trail options from here that have great views of Gitchee Gumee and, if you’re lucky, thousands of migrating raptors. Visit www.hawkridge.org to learn more about the trails and Hawk Weekend on Sept. 16-18.
Bean and Bear Lakes
Find your way to the trailhead on the north side of Penn Boulevard outside of Silver Bay. This 5-mile round trip was somewhat challenging, but we got through it by employing another classic tactic for hiking with kids: Lollipop Power. The massive cliffs and incredible views of Bean Lake made the bribery totally worth it.
High Falls of the Baptism River
What kid doesn’t like to walk on a footbridge over a river? And then see the highest waterfall within the borders of Minnesota? At Tettegouche State Park, drive uphill to the highest parking lot and begin the 1-mile round trip to see if your kids are immune from the charms of rushing water.
I asked Andy Holak for some family trail suggestions. He owns the Adventure Running Company (www.adventurerunningco.com) based in Duluth with his wife Kim. They’ve been running on the SHT for 15 years. He said Carlton Peak is a great hike for kids. He has a picture of his children at the summit when they were “really little.” Go 2 miles above Tofte on the Sawbill Trail to get to the trailhead.
I’ll admit it. This is my favorite. It’s just right: awesome views of Lake Superior, easy to get to, plenty of cliffs to take your breath away, and in the fall the colors are dazzling. Find the Onion River Road (Forest Road 336) and go uphill to the trailhead parking lot. You can thank me later.