Volunteering for the Superior Hiking Trail Association


View of Lake Agnes from Hunters Rock.

I know the blog says it’s about Minneapolis and this post isn’t, but this story is about a place near and dear to my heart, the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). The trail is approximately 310 miles of beautiful terrain that overlooks Lake Superior from Duluth to the Canadian border. It is a gem of a resource that I hope you all get to visit sometime. 

Friends told us about a section of trail they had been maintaining for several years which piqued our interest. Rich was all over getting us involved in giving back to the land and organization that makes this trail possible. He called the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA), the non-profit organization that preserves, builds and maintains the trail, to see what was available. The coordinator at the time suggested we take the Lake Agnes sites as they were on a lake which is not common and highly coveted, lucky us! We snatched them up and have taken care of them ever since.


My trusty shovel strapped to my pack for digging out the fire rings.

As responsible campsite parents we visit during Mother’s Day weekend and the last weekend in September, the latter being especially nice since the fall colors are usually at peak. We try to camp overnight unless it’s pouring rain, luckily Grand Marais is not too far. Lake Agnes is just a mile hike from the parking lot on County Road 4, though this initial hill reminds us how out of shape we are EVERY SINGLE TIME.


This is the view when you first enter the forest off Caribou Trail (County Road 4).

We had a wetter than normal summer and warm fall so the colors were spectacular. Since this is an easy and scenic hike, it is VERY popular with day hikers and campers during the fall. We were lucky to get there early enough to snag a spot at the East Lake Agnes campsite before more campers showed up. We didn’t get the main  site on the lake, but camped above with a nice view from a rocky perch.

The SHT is for hikers and backpackers so there is no reservation of campsites. You backpack in, stay a night (maximum) and leave no trace. Campsites are equipped with benches, a fire ring and a latrine. As volunteers, we clear any debris, pick up litter, mend benches, trim unruly branches, clear the fire ring of any trash and dig it out. Many people think burning trash, such as wrappers and glass (!), will eliminate it but it really doesn’t. Volunteers like us pick out the remnants by hand and haul them out in trash bags.


Relaxing on a sunny rock with a cold beer.

We could not have asked for better weather on this trip. Bright and warm sun with cool nights. Several waves of thick fog rolled in on both days which made for beautiful views of the lake. It was spectacular.


View of Lake Agnes on a foggy morning.

The resident Lake Agnes Beaver had breakfast with us.

The resident Lake Agnes Beaver had breakfast with us.

On day 2 of our trip, we hiked out and headed to Grand Marais for a night. We had a delicious meal at the Angry Trout Cafe. The fish chowder is a must. I loved that it came in this handmade mug. If you’ve never been, this cafe is right on the water and specializes in seafood.


Fish chowder and Surly Furious at the Angry Trout Cafe.

Grand Marais has now become part of our campsite cleanup. There’s nothing better than a hot shower and good food after a night of camping. This tiny town is so picturesque and full of galleries, restaurants, and coast to walk along which makes it perfect for a weekend trip. I look forward to visiting every year, even in winter when it’s frozen and sleepy.

Minnesota has so many beautiful places to visit that are rich in character and nature. I greatly appreciate organizations like the SHTA that are dedicated to maintaining the trails and keeping them free for you and me. If you love nature and this beautiful state, consider a membership or donation to help them keep up the good work. Or sign up for a volunteer shift and get out in nature to help build the trail.


View of Grand Marais harbor.

2 responses to “Volunteering for the Superior Hiking Trail Association

  1. Super cool. I love Grand Marais, I have not been in years.

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