Superior Hiking Trail info needed
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Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Superior Hiking Trail info needed on 08/19/2010 16:38:29 MDT Print View

Well, it seems like there is not a specific forum for soliciting info on trails so I decided to just post it here.

I know there are many here that live near and hike the SHT. Two or three of us are planning a trip for early September and were looking for some info from those of who know it well.

Questions that I can think of right now:

* what temps should we expect
* how much precip does the area usually get that time of year (if it is like Iowa, it is pretty dry)
* what is the bug situation like then
* what section would you recommend- we were looking at starting in the Beaver Bay/ Silver Bay area and going north
* are there usually a lot of people on the trail (starting on Labor Day weekend is a possibility we have considered)
* where is the best place to park? (this could be determined by the answer to the next question)
* what is a good resupply strategy- we are doing 6 or 7 days and two of us have back problems right now, so we are looking to keep the weight down as far as possible. I was thinking we could park the car somewhere halfway up our intended section with our resupply in the car, and catch the shuttle back to our start point- does this sound optimal, or is there a better way?

I will post more questions as I think of them and maybe my partners will jump in with some as well. I appreciate the wealth of information that everyone provides on the forums. I think I will be sub-8 pound base weight (sub-7 if I end up using the poncho tarp!) for the first time on this trip (before I add the luxury items)! It is entirely due to the knowledge that I have gained from all of you. Thanks.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Trip Announcements on 08/19/2010 16:43:10 MDT Print View

Many people ask questions about trails under Trip Announcements but, yes, here is fine too.

Sorry I can't actually answer your question, though...

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
SHT Trail Info on 08/19/2010 20:24:55 MDT Print View

September is a great time for the SHT.

I'd say your first stop should be the website for the SHTA (Superior Hiking Trail Association). Order the new SHT guidebook (about $15 IIRC) that will answer many of your questions. The staff in the office can also answer a lot of your questions. The guidebook also tells you where to park.

The weather will be cooling off pretty quickly in September, so you can expect overnight lows around freezing as the month moves on. Daytime temps can be variably warmish, typically in the mid-60's to mid-50's, though lower if cloudy/stormy/windy.

The precipitation is not bad in September and is unlikely to produce all-day type rain even when it does rain.

There are many excellent and scenic sections of the trail to hike and the guidebook (above) will highlight most of them for you. A lot depends on how long you'll be out. FWIW, there is a commercial shuttle that runs on the weekends (other times by reservation) that can do pickup or dropoff for you.

One of my favorite sections starts at Oberg Mountain (just south of the Lutsen Ski Resort) and goes north up to the Cascade River State Park. That'd be a great 2-3 day outing! If you go later in September, you'll see some good color in the leaves. Bugs (late in the month) will be a non-issue.

Have fun! As you can tell, I really like the SHT!

Edited by Beep on 08/19/2010 20:26:57 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: SHT Trail Info on 08/19/2010 21:02:56 MDT Print View

Adding to the good info Bill provided (especially about the trail assn and guide book) ...

You were asking about early Sept ... there are few historical climate data sets for North Shore locations but I did find about 115 years of climate data from Two Harbors.

For the first half of September:
the coldest 10% of days were 27F-42F
the mean low temp was 50F
the warmest 10% of days were 79F-92F
the mean high temp was 69F

60% of the days had zero precip
15% had precip >0 but <=0.1 inch
13% had precip >0.1 but <0.5 inch
6% had >0.5 but <1.0 inch
6% had precip >10 inch

That said it is entirely possible (but not likely) that it'll be cold and wet your entire trek, he-he

Your idea of parking the car at mid trek for re-supply should work if you use the shuttle service as you propose ... be aware that the shuttle runs only on Fri, Sat, Sun and major holidays. Alternatively, you can arrange to meet the shuttle at a scheduled trailhead stop for a food resupply if mid trek is on a day the shuttle runs.

How busy will it be? Backpacking usage has grown steadily the past 10 years. If you go on the nicest stretches on a holiday weekend you should expect to share campsites with others at least some of the nights. You'll also see quite a few day hikers, especially in the state parks, even more so in Tettegouche (east of Silver Bay).

Bill's suggestion of Oberg->Cascade River is a good one. You mentioned Beaver Bay or Silver Bay and eastward ... very very scenic but very very rugged.

Have a good trip!

edits:
You asked about parking, most trailheads allow overnight parking, the highway waysides have signs saying "NO". If parking at a state park you'll need to purchase an entry pass and also ask where they prefer you to park long term ... they'll normally ask for vehicle info so they know you're expected to be gone overnight(s)

regarding insects, the later the better. I have pretty high mosquito tolerance but would still want a bug bivy under a tarp or a shelter with built in screening ... unless it were after the first hard frost.

Edited by jcolten on 08/19/2010 21:09:10 MDT.

Blair Gentes
(blastreach) - F
SHT info on 08/20/2010 00:08:33 MDT Print View

Not to hijack the thread, but I have a few questions while this one is still alive.

The guidebook says every campsite has a fire ring. Where does the wood come from: are they stocked or is it taken from the surrounding area?

Do people normally cook at the campsites? I never cook where I'm sleeping, but if people cook at the campsites where I'm sleeping I might as well not avoid it.

What is the water like this time of year? How much will I need to carry, more than a days worth?

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: SHT info on 08/20/2010 12:37:59 MDT Print View

Hi Blair,

To address your questions:
1. RE: fire ring. The wood for fires is whatever you gather around the campsite. By September, the "traffic" along the trail has pretty much cleared out most of the convenient dead-and-down wood. There is no stocking of firewood unless some previous camper has done so.
2. RE: cooking at campsite. Most everyone cooks at the campsite. There'd be no reason for you to cook elsewhere.
3. RE: water. Water is plentiful along most of the trail. Most campsites have a nearby water source, though some of those are "intermittent" and so noted in the guidebook for the trail. There are "dry" campsites typically on a ridgeline, but my experience is that water is usually within 1/2 mile even for those exceptions.
4. I get by easily with carrying 2 liters, though I could manage with one liter and more frequent fillups. You WILL need to filter or treat all water along the SHT.