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North Shore fall colors are at their peak...go out and find them!
For current color reports, check out the Minnesota DNR's fall color page, complete with photos and suggested driving routes for finding the best fall colors in the Arrowhead right now.
September 23, 2010
View from Sawmill dome
(View from Sawmill Dome on 9-22-10)
It's all about the maples. The farther up the North Shore you go past Silver Bay, the better the colors are, especially inland from Highway 61. The maples along the road near Finland are blaze red. From the Lutsen Mountains gondola ride, the forest below is a tapestry of oranges, yellows and reds. At Grand Portage State Park, the inland forests are in full color and the park reports "amazing colors" just in time for the grand opening of their new visitor center this Saturday, September 25. Fall is busting out all over the North won't want to miss it!
One trailhead, two fabulous hikes...Wolf Ridge Fantasia or Section 13. From one trailhead on County Road 6 near Finland, you can hike east or west into a glorious red and orange maple forest (see photo above). Do one hike or the other, or combine them both for a full, glorious day in maple forest country.
Finding the trailhead. From Little Marais at Highway 61 mile marker 65.3, take County Road 6 for 2.1 miles to the Superior Hiking Trail parking area on right (next to gravel pit). Both trailheads, though on different sides of the highway, are marked from the road with SHT signs.

SECTION 13. The Section 13 hike is a moderate climb of 1.6 miles through maple and oak forest to two stunning overlooks. From the parking lot, walk about 300 yards farther up County Road 6 to the trailhead on the RIGHT. The trail starts fairly level and crosses pretty little Sawmill Creek. After approximately 0.75 miles, the forest is nearly all maple, and all vibrant color. It's a steady climb to the open crest of Section 13, with a few smaller overlooks on the way. Watch for oak trees and their distinct dark red autumn color.

SAWMILL DOME. The Wolf Ridge Fantasia hike is a challenging trek of 7.1 miles from County Road 6 west to Highway. For an easier 3-mile fall color hike on the same trail, head roundtrip to Sawmill Dome (pictured above). The hike is more challenging than Section 13, with rougher terrain to the Dome. From the parking lot on County Road 6, walk 600 yards farther up the highway to the trailhead on the LEFT side of the road. You'll climb right away, going up and over boulders. You'll come to the Picnic Rock spur trail which, if taken, leads you to a jumble of cool, huge boulders (though not very suitable for an actual picnic spot). Hike farther along to Sawmill Dome for your lunch spot, to the pines which frame the spectacular fall color views from the Sawmill Dome itself. Then return back the way you came, unless you're traveling the entire 7.1 stretch with a ride waiting on the other end.


— Andrew Slade

For the latest news on North Shore trails and the colors of autumn, read Andrew's blog.
Find both the Wolf Ridge Fantasia hike and Section 13 hike in my upcoming new book...

Hiking the North Shore: 50 fabulous day hikes in Minnesota's spectacular Lake Superior region,
available Spring 2011
Learn about all my North Shore trail guides at There and Back Books.
There and Back Books | Publishers of great guidebooks | Read. Go. Discover. | 218.727.4873

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