Ask anyone who lives near the North Shore about their favorite season, and you’ll most likely hear, “Fall!” Sure, you can take a gorgeous North Shore scenic drive, but to see the most captivating and breathtaking views, you’ve got to get moving.
If fall colors, vibrant views, and nature photography are your passion, then these 10 Lake County hiking destinations will satisfy your soul…and your Instagram followers!
1. Wolf Rock Overlook
Hikers can take in gorgeous North Shore views at the Wolf Rock Overlook near Two Harbors. The trail‘s elevation inclines over 200 ft. within a half-mile. Reach the summit, and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, the big lake, and Crow Creek.
2. Split Rock River Loop
Photographers love to capture Split Rock’s beauty in the fall when surrounded by colorful maple trees. Hit the trail from the Hwy 61 parking area and hike upstream along the Split Rock River. Cross a little footbridge and head back toward Lake Superior on the opposite river bank.
3. Palisade Head (Tettegouche)
The striking view from the high cliffs at Palisade Head (part of Tettegouche State Park) remains one of the best Lake Superior scenic views of the North Shore. Drive up to the top or hike from up from the roadside. Gaze for miles in either direction or set up your camera for a panoramic capture.
4. Shovel Point (Tettegouche)
Notable for its majestic scenic vistas, the hike along the shore to Shovel Point in Tettegouche State Park is a top fall colors destination. The hour-long trek captures many gorgeous views, starting just a few minutes down the trail with an overlook of the Baptism River mouth and a glimpse of Palisade Head.
From behind the visitor center, take a left to the trailhead and walk through tall pines along Superior’s rugged shoreline cliffs. You’ll meet a series of wooden stairs where you can stop to relax and take it all in. At the far end of the trail, you can walk out onto a balcony for a big lake view.
Bean & Bear Lakes
The Bean and Bear Loop has become a wildly popular North Shore fall hike. Just north of Silver Bay, hit the Superior Hiking Trail at Penn Blvd. trailhead in Silver Bay and hike north about three and a half miles to arrive at lovely Bean and Bear lakes. The entire hike totals about 6.5 miles.
The Silver Bay to Caribou Falls section of the SHT totals a nearly 7-mile hike leading to Highway 6. However, if you hike for a mile, you’ll find a half-mile spur trail leading to the Fantasia Overlook, which delivers beautiful views of Lake Superior and a beaver pond.
North Shore Scenic Overlook
As you drive down Outer Drive in Silver Bay, swing a left turn on City Shop Road, to find a short spur trail leading to the Cliff’s Mining North Shore Scenic Overlook. Experience two dynamic views, one of the city and the other a panoramic view of Lake Superior.
Section 13 Cliffs: Superior Hiking Trail
Explore this 2.8-mile out-and-back section of the Superior Hiking Trail near Finland, MN. It is considered a moderately challenging trek that takes just over an hour to complete. Reaching the Section 13 cliffs, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views overlooking Sawmill Creek and Baptism River Valleys.
Blackstone/Secret Hiking Trail
Although hiking to scenic views along the North Shore could keep you trekking for days, you’ll find even more fall beauty in northern Lake County near Ely, Minnesota.
The Secret/Blackstone Trail, located 20 miles northeast of Ely, MN, features various trail segments with inland lake and pond overlooks. Numerous scenic overlooks ranging from 30 to 80 feet above Secret, Blackstone, and Ennis Lakes. Additionally, you’ll pass several small ponds, which make great spots to sit and enjoy the colorful surroundings, listen to the sounds of the forest, or enjoy a picnic lunch.
The hike features 50+ wildflowers and shrubs, including hepaticas and wood lilies. Birding enthusiasts should bring binoculars to try to spot a black-throated blue warbler or black-backed woodpecker.
The longer, medium-difficulty Ennis Lake loop (about 4.3 miles) rewards your climb with stunning cliffside views of the lakes and forest.
Heading north on 61, just north of Little Marais, sits the Caribou Falls Wayside. This hidden North Shore gem can get easily overlooked driving north; however, you want to take advantage of such a moderately easy and Instagram-worthy hike.
Th 1.5-mile hike starts along the Superior Hiking Trail and Caribou River. The path’s mild inclines and declines give way to vivid views of the river and gorge. Next, take the wooden stairs down to the water, where you will discover picture-perfect views to photograph the falls.
Continue back up the stairs and hike further along the Superior Hiking Trail to lovely Crystal Creek or head back towards the parking lot.