“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”.- John Muir

Extending for 150 miles along the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior from Duluth to Canada, lies the North Shore, a place of unspoiled beauty and pristine nature. Home to a multitude of scenic waterfalls, rivers, state parks and the 310-mile long Superior Hiking Trail, the North Shore is a hikers paradise and offers a treasure trove of opportunities to explore wild, relatively untouched nature.

It is here that the water looks like a vast ocean, and at many points you can not see to the other side to the shores of Wisconsin. The waves can be just as large and loud as the sea, crashing fiercely against the shore at night lulling you to sleep. The fresh scent of pine and morning dew is always present as is the crisp unpolluted air kissing my lungs with unequivocal joy.

The rugged shoreline is the perfect place to build a bonfire at night and listen to the roar of the waves smashing against the shore or to search for agates along its pools of rocks. Sea gulls and occasionally even a pair of loons can be seen swimming along its shore or a distant iron-ore freighter off in the horizon heading out to sea. It is a place of awe and wonder that such raw beauty exists only four hours away from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It is my special corner of Minnesota where I go to unplug, unwind and embrace the simplest pleasures of all: Solitude and Nature.

The North Shore has always been a very special place for me and my family as I grew up heading “up north” each fall to watch the magnificent changing of the leaves. I have continued this tradition with my own family visiting the North Shore in the summer and fall to enjoy its pristine wilderness and beauty. 

My family circa late 1970’s in Lutsen, Minnesota. I am the blond girl and am about 6 years old here.

When my parents began planning their 50th Wedding Anniversary, there was no doubt in their minds that we would spend their anniversary on the North Shore. Last week, my uncles, aunts, brother and sister and family all met for a long weekend in Lutsen where we stayed at the Sea Villas on Lake Superior. It was a weekend filled with laughter, memories and adventure as we reminisced about the past and enjoyed all being together after so many years.

It was the first time we had all been back there together since my sister’s wedding in Lutsen 14 years ago, and we were staying at the same place we always had for the past 40 years. Not much had changed except the dwindling of the shoreline. The purple lupines still reached towards the sky, the edges of the forest were covered in wild raspberry bushes and wildflowers, and the hikes I’d done for the past forty years afforded the same views yet now were seen with more experienced, wiser eyes. Its specialness did not dissipate. After decades of visits, I still felt the same sense of awe and pleasure at being there.

Over the weekend, we did our favorite family hike to Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota. Located in the northeastern part of Minnesota at the start of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness, Eagle Mountain is one of the best hikes in Minnesota and it will always hold a special place in my heart. As a child, I hiked this trail every single fall with my family, until I moved away to college.

Pristine forests, magical untouched lakes and impressive wildlife are all the wonderful things you will find along the trail. In the fall, the colors are extraordinary. Once you reach the top, you are surrounded by a magnificent tapestry of brilliant hues of pumpkin orange, golden-yellow and crimson red. If I close my eyes, I can almost see it now.

Given the specialness of Eagle Mountain, of course we had to do the hike in honor of my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. We set out in three big carloads of adults, kids and dogs and set off on the seven mile roundtrip hike into the wilderness.

Whale Lake

Whale Lake, Eagle Mountain, Minnesota

Whale Lake on the hike to Eagle Mountain

Whale Lake, Eagle Mountain, Minnesota

My dad with the Grandkids on hike to Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain, Minnesota

Us on top of Eagle Mountain

We also hiked along the Superior Hiking Trail, which runs through the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior and woods of the North Shore, affording 310 miles of hiking trails. There are tons of hikes along the Superior Hiking Trail ranging from short one hour trips up to the top of Carlton Peak or Oberg Mountain or the longer more adventurous multi-day or week-long hikes. There is so much to choose from it can be almost overwhelming, and the trail is quite diverse traveling through forests of birch, aspen, pine, fir, and cedar and passing tiny brooks to large rivers and rushing waterfalls. If you are really lucky, you may even see a bear or a moose!

Map of Superior Hiking Trail. Photo credit: Superior Hiking Trail.org

Some of my favorite places to hike along the North Shore include the short but sweet Oberg Mountain Trail. It is especially lovely in the fall when the leaves are a technicolor of inspiration.

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I also love the hike to Carlton Peak which is a similar to Oberg Mountain and only a little over an hour’s hike making it good with children. There are also several hikes along waterfalls and rivers with three of the best being Cascade River, Temperance River and Gooseberry Falls State Parks. The list is endless yet time is not. That is why this is one of my most favorite corners of Minnesota as there is so much to do outdoors where I’m in my happy place and at peace. I am always wanting to go back!

One of many rivers along the Superior Hiking Trail.

If you go

The Superior Hiking Trail Organization

The North Shore Visitor

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Corner. 


  1. Love this post! What a special place to celebrate your parent’s 50th anniversary. It’s easy to see why your family spent so much time there when you were growing up.

  2. What an amazing place! It’s so great to return to the same place again and again, and notice the slow changes in the landscape with the seasons.

  3. I distinctly remember a visit to this area 20 years ago. It was glorious and your photos are a great reminder. Also, nothing better than making memories with your family. Beautiful post Nicole.

  4. Wonderful post! I love both your photographs and your sentimental description of this beautiful place. You’ve made me fall in love with my state all over again.

      1. Oh my yes, I’ve been to the North Shore — at least once a year for the 14 or so years we had our dog. But then our sweet pooch died and work brought more responsibilities and I saw your post and now I’m wondering why we haven’t been up there in ages. I do feel a road trip coming on. 🙂

  5. We loved our time on the North Shore. I think it may be time to make a return trip. Great photos Nicole. Congrats to your mom and dad on their 50th anniversary.

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