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Monday, October 3, 2011

Superior Hiking Trail, Fall Hike

Saturday found our little pack heading up the North Shore for the last organized hike of 2011!

From the Superior Hiking Trail website:

Caribou River Wayside to Cook Co Rd 1

9.0 miles. This hike climbs along the Caribou River with a chance to take a spur trail to the base of the dramatic Caribou Falls. It continues through birch and maple forests over the only covered bridge on the trail. After steeply descending from the ridgeline, the trail crosses Dyers Creek and continues along the Two Island River.

People I talk to have a preconceived notion about these organized hikes, such as we have to hike as a group, no dogs, etc.  I can assure the readers that this is definitely NOT true.  You hike at your own pace, dogs are allowed (leashed please - there are other doggies on the trail who are not dog friendly), you can stick with folks if you want or not.  The great thing about the organized hikes is the organized shuttle - everyone pitches in to help transport the group to the start point, everyone hikes to the end, then those who were shuttled, help get people back to their cars.  A fantastic way to through hike a segment. 

Morning temps started at about 27* and by the time we were on the trail it was probably about 40*.  As we hiked up the Cascade River Gorge, layers were quickly shed and as long as you kept moving - which is not a problem on the trail - you stayed warm.  Lunch for our little pack was at Alfred's Pond where the doggies could get a drink while we ate. 

This segment of trail is one of the easier sections.  The trail starts out with a gentle climb (gentle for the SHT, then levels off and follows the ridge for about 6 miles.  Through the dying birch stand you can see Lake Superior and - on a good day - the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin in the far distance.  The trail leaves the birch stand and makes its way through a blaze of golds, reds and oranges that define sugar maples in the fall.  Then it drops down to Sugar Loaf Pond, which this year was mostly just a cattail swamp.  The next notable feature on the landscape is Alfred's Pond, a deep dark pond surrounded by a floating bog.  Very cool.  And then the last couple of miles the trail winds through birch and maple stands before dropping back down into the a small river gorge and meeting up with the trail's parking lot. 

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