New book highlights best North Shore hiking trailsIn this latest concise and backpackable volume, Slade provides maps, directions and details to some well-known North Shore hikes as well as some that probably are new to his readers.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
For Andrew Slade, hiking the North Shore goes back a long way. He started tagging along with his family on short hikes when he was just 4. When he was 6 or 7, he and a bunch of cousins would get dropped off high on the Manitou River where it crosses Cramer Road north of Finland.
“It was the family tradition,” said Duluth’s Slade. “We’d all pile into the big blue Ford van. They’d drop us off with uncles and my dad, with half a water bottle and three lemon drops. Then we’d hike all the way back down to Highway 61. We’d follow fisherman trails along the river.”
Slade, of Duluth, is now sharing his knowledge of the North Shore’s more developed trails in his latest book, “Hiking the North Shore.”
He’s up ahead now on this July afternoon, putting down bootprints on a wooded path around Eighteen Lake north of Isabella. This 2.7-mile loop is one of 50 hikes that Slade profiles in his book.
Chris Evavold of Foxboro also is along, and somewhere up ahead is a yellow dog looking for her next chance to swim.
Slade’s hiking guide follows his previous books, “Skiing the North Shore” and “Camping the North Shore.” All are published by There and Back Books, the company that Slade and his wife, Sally Rauschenfels, formed several years ago.
In this latest concise and backpackable volume, Slade provides maps, directions and details to some well-known North Shore hikes as well as some that probably are new to his readers. Some hikes are in state parks. Some are segments of the Superior Hiking Trail. Some are in Superior National Forest.
Slade’s motivation for doing the book was to share opportunities he has enjoyed since he was a kid.
“I want people to get out in the woods and have these experiences,” he said. “But there are certain logistical hurdles. … When I plan a trip to a new area, the first thing I look for is a book on hiking trails.”
Some of the trails are North Shore classics:
-The vista-studded loop at Oberg Mountain near Tofte.
-The easy walk to Shovel Point, where you can stare straight down the cliff into Lake Superior.
-The climb to Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota.
But many in the book are trails less-well-known or commonly overlooked:
-The challenging 5.9-mile trek on the Superior Hiking Trail that passes over the Encampment River near Two Harbors.
-The Wolf Ridge Fantasia overlook trail near Finland.
-The trek along the deep gorge of the Devil Track River, topping out on Pincushion Mountain north of Grand Marais.
Slade, a naturalist who knows a lot about the plants and critters at his feet, points out the unique qualities of each trail, lets readers know how difficult the hikes are and offers compelling bits of information about the North Shore as well.
Height of land
On the hike last month, the start is the 2.1-mile loop around Divide Lake, which sits at the height of the Laurentian Divide. Its waters flow into Lake Superior and the Atlantic Ocean. Just across the road, the water from Tanner Lake flows to the Kawishiwi River and eventually to Hudson Bay.
Along the way, Slade and Evavold pause to check out plants or trees or small critters.
“Look, pipsissewa,” Slade says, kneeling to inspect a tiny pink flower on the forest floor.
They check out Indian pipe, a small, waxy flower that operates without photosynthesis. They inspect the withered blossoms of twinflower. Evavold turns over fungal growths on the forest floor to see what they’re made of. They watch a spider eating a grub in its web. They look at hard conks, growing like small porch roofs from birch trees.
On Divide Lake, there was a stop at a remote campsite while Evavold made a few casts for rainbow trout and splake with a new pack rod. On Eighteen Lake, just a few miles away, there was a trail lunch at a conveniently placed bench among the cedars.
Slade knows that information is available about all of these paths at one place or another online. He believes in using technology. He has a web site. He writes a blog. But he also knows people appreciate having information compiled and packaged in a way that’s useful.
“I hope in the end I’ve created new content,” he said.
Content that leads to contentment.