In 2017, I made a goal to visit all eleven Superior Hiking Trail register boxes in one weekend. I invited my friend Bovee (of Border Route Trail fame) to join me and for some reason, she said yes.
We started on a Friday afternoon. The first register we hiked to was #1, Split Rock River Loop trail register. Luckily for us, it was only half a mile in. Because of this, we were able to miss most of the mud the loop is known for.
Next up: #2, the Caribou River trail register. This is about a mile from Caribou Falls State Wayside and all uphill, though it’s a gentle and beautiful trail to get here.
At this point, daylight was fading quickly so we made a jaunt to County Road 45 in Cook County, where we packed up and hiked into North Cascade River Campsite.
It was here I found a surprise #3, North Cascade River trail register. I’d heard rumors of this trail register but didn’t believe it existed anymore. Although it is rotting and needs replacement, it still counts as a trail register.
We awoke refreshed after a nice night in the woods.
Our first stop for the day was at Pincushion Trailhead in Grand Marais where we headed in 2.5 miles to the West Devil Track Campsite and #4, Devil Track bridge trail register. This was the longest roundtrip hike to any trail register we did. (At the time we were still intending to visit Bear Lake’s trail register, which would have been a longer hike.)
It was a bit of a drive to our next trailhead on Otter Lake Road. We revisited #5, 270 Degree Overlook trail register, which we had written in just two years before when we hiked the Border Route Trail. I’ll admit there was a tug on my heart when we descended back to the car instead of turning west toward McFarland Lake. This register is also the only place where the inaugural and second Hikers’ Dozen Challenges overlapped.
Our next #6, Otter Lake Road trail register, was too easy — it’s a drive-up! Because the SHT’s northern terminus used to be right here on the road, there is a trail register. This is the only drive-up trail register, and it’s simply a relic of the former terminus. I suspect it will not exist in a decade or so.
On our way back down the shore, we pulled over at Kadunce River Wayside. I’d never hiked this spur trail before since there’s no overnight parking allowed here. It was a glorious and quick jaunt up to #7, Kadunce River trail register. Because I am a geek, I enjoyed seeing vintage green paint on these signs. Most SHT signage is now blue.
We continued south to Caribou Trail where we parked to access the spur trail into the Lake Agnes area. The hike in to #8, Hunter’s Rock trail register went quickly and we enjoyed the view. Lake Agnes looked perfect for swimming today, but we had a lot more to get done.
It wasn’t a long drive to our next hike to #9, Carlton Peak trail register. The name is misleading because the register is not actually on Carlton Peak but rather at the spur trail junction leading up to the peak. It was a great day to go the extra distance and soak in the beauty.
Of all the trail registers, I was least looking forward to #10, Sonju Lake/Lilly’s Island trail register. It’s in a charming place and is probably the most magical of all trail registers. So why was I not looking forward to it? Because I have been to this spot at least ten times. I still enjoy it, but it’s not nearly as exciting as all these trail registers that I’ve only seen a couple of times.
We camped South Sonju Campsite. And it was lovely, even if I’ve camped there half a dozen times before. I still love you, Sonju Lake.
Our final hike was to #11, Sawmill Pond Boardwalk. Our notes for where this register was were misleading. It’s much closer to Park Hill Road than the County Road 6 trailhead, which ultimately didn’t matter since there’s nowhere to park on Park Hill Road anyway. Once we reached this register we were exhausted and did not feel like backtracking up the cliffs and then back down them to return to the car. So we called around until we found a Finland friend to pick us up and give us a lift. Bovee has connections. Thanks David A!
We had initially intended to end the 2017 Hikers’ Dozen Challenge at Bear Lake’s trail register, but given that we found a bonus register at North Cascade River, we had completed the goal of reaching 11 trail registers. Also, it was several miles to Bear Lake and we wanted to hang out with our friend Fritz in Silver Bay. So we did that instead and there was much rejoicing.
This year’s Hikers’ Dozen Challenge resulted in a useful inventory for trail management purposes.