Explore the most popular River trails in Superior National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Snowshoed this trail 2/15/19. Someone/people also snowshoed the trail before us, so it was easy to follow. If there was heavy snowfall, this trail would be hard to follow unless you had gps. If you're looking for an easy snowshoe trek with great views of Minnesota, we highly recommend this one!

Nice wooded trail with good views at the top.

hiking
2 months ago

I did a solo hike of the trail in August and it kicked my butt. I am a moderately experienced BWCA paddler but had never done a hiking trip let alone a solo trip. However, I did a ton of research and felt quite prepared. It was very reassuring to read Christine's review below. Everything Christine said echoes how I felt. I planned on a 3 night stay hoping to stay on Hustler and Pageant Lake. This hike completely broke me down. I also got lost at the same point she turned around but luckily found the trail after searching for 30 min..it was so easy, how could you not find it?? ;) Anywho, by the time I got to Shell lake I could barely move. I continued past the first site along the trail on the western shores because it felt like such an unwelcoming site - essentially a huge rock slab with no shade. I ended up bushwhacking my way to the NE site below Little Shell. It was a decent site but faced the bay and could not see the sunset. This only worsened my low morale. I spent the night and booked it out of there right away the next morning. I didn't have any desire to continue on this overgrown trail. I think I'll stick to paddling or trying this later in the season when the leaves have fallen.

Do your research before doing this hike and purchase All Trails Pro version. It saved my butt and honestly was the only way to get through some areas. Check out my page if you want to see my path - it varied a bit from what's posted here. Cheers and happy hiking!

hiking
4 months ago

Did this hike on 11/16/18. It was 20 degrees with roughly 4” of snow and it was snowing, a slow snow globe like snow. Beautiful! Lots of moose and deer tracks but never saw any wildlife. Trail was rocky in places but it was covered with snow. The places you had to cross over water were not frozen and the planking was covered with snow so you needed to be cautious, only slid off once. Was wearing my Sorels so I never had to worry about wet feet. The hike had a few steep areas but the view, before the actual summit was breathtaking. It looked so amazing with the trees snow covered. Pictures didn’t do justice. We were in and out in 3 and a half hours.

I wouldn’t describe it as hard, more easy to moderate. Definitely very rocky for long stretches but the incline was gentle and not strenuous. Pretty views just shy of the summit. Actual summit is just a plaque - no views. Brought two small dogs and they dominated it but were very tired afterwards. A few stream crossing were a little underwater but definitely do-able. Worth checking out for the fresh air, gorgeous lake views, and an enjoyable time in nature.

completed 10/11/18. super wet crossings and trail washed out in places. wasn't undoable but be ready for wet feet. Gators definitely recommended and walking stick or trekking poles. took my time with trail conditions and it being my first time there, out and back in under 4 hours. had a dusting of snow that day too, made for super beautiful scenery.

Simple. Easy. Lots of up hill. Very natural and the river sounds and views are beautiful. Bring your camera.

hiking
5 months ago

The summit is a pretty good workout. The view from the summit was awesome, although it started snowing and blowing pretty hard right when we got there. I imagine it would be stunning on a clear day with sunshine. There was a few spots along the way where you’re going to get wet unless you have the right footwear.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike in the fall with great autumn colors overlooking north shore Lake Superior. I would rate this one as moderate instead of difficult. Also I had no problems with dog off-leash if you do it during the week instead of weekend.

Beautiful views. Spectacular fall colors.

Great hike and views. The fall colors were just starting to change. Trail is very Rocky in places. About a mile into the trail there is a flooded portion due to the rain and Beaver dam (had to deal with 3 to 6" of water for about 10').

hiking
5 months ago

Breathtaking views at the top, especially with the fall colors this time of year! Difficult is a pretty good description for this hike, not due to elevation change (you only start the real climb the last 1/4 of the hike, maybe a half hour of climbing tops) but the footing the whole hike is a challenge - almost never a flat foot between rocks and roots. That said, we saw kids, dogs, and even elderly with crutches complete this hike so its doable for anyone with the willingness to do it! As of yesterday, the "bridges" that cross the stream at the early part of the hike are underwater, so your feet will get wet!

We had a fantastic time last October. Had to cut it down to one night since there was more snow than we were expecting and the ground was not yet frozen.

hiking
6 months ago

Two friends and I attempted to do the Sioux Hustler Trail this summer, July 29-Aug 1. Two of us are very experienced backpackers, having done other trails in the BWCA, several trips on Isle Royale, the Superior Hiking Trail, and parts of the Appalachian trail. The third member of our group is a BWCA frequent flier, but hasn't done much backpacking. The Sioux Hustler Trail turned out to be one of the worst experiences of our lives.

We met at the trailhead around noon, got all our gear situated, intending to spend 3 nights on the trail, and set out on the path. The trail was severely over grown. After about a half mile, the trail takes a 90 degree left turn, but we missed that and continued on what we THOUGHT was the trail for almost 3/4 of a mile until it turned into nothing. We finally got out our GPS to consult and realized we were more than a half mile off trail. We stamped back to the trail and after an hour wasted, continued on.

After about a mile, the trail opens up to what looks like a horrible burn/tornado/beaver mess. Trees down EVERYWHERE, rocks EVERYWHERE, no trail to be seen. After a few minutes we realized that there were some faded red and orange flags on a few trees and started following them. I want to be clear that this was not easy. We would struggled our way hundreds of yards across boulders and downed trees to get to a red flag and then spend 20 minutes looking for the next flag, and repeat repeat repeat for like 2 hours until we finally emerged on the other side and back onto the "trail."

We suffered on in silence for like another 2 hours through the buggiest hike of my life. I usually am not bothered by mosquitos, but on this hike I was slathered in Sawyer Picardin and DEET and still had thousands of bites. The backs of my upper arms were bitten so many times that the bites merged together into swollen masses on the whole backs of my arms.

Finally, we came to this bridge over a small creek that was clearly marked with an arrow like, "you should cross here." Immediately after crossing the creek, the trail disappeared into nothing. Seriously, the three of us tramped around in every direction for more than hour and never found anything resembling a trail. This wasn't even to the intersection yet. We had suffered through about 4 miles in more than 5 hours and had completely lost the trail. We were all miserable and demoralized and had no desire to continue on this horrible trail for 3 more days. We decided if we high tailed it out of there, we could get back to our cars before sunset.

We sprinted as fast as one can sprint with backpacks on...through the worst trail of my life. So it was still really slow going. Made it out after about 3 hours. My legs looked like I had gone through a wood chipper. We all had tears and holes in our clothes and were bleeding from several locations each. We had all been bitten more than ever in our lives. The trail completely broke my spirit for backpacking. It had been a dream of mine to one day hike the AT or PCT and after this demoralizing day I never wanted to look at a backpack again.

It has been more than a month now and my legs are finally starting to look normal. While I do want to go on more backpacking trips in my life, I think I will steer clear of the BWCA again unless it's in a canoe. The Sioux Hustler trail, at least during mid summer, is, in my opinion, completely impassable. I have read all the other reviews on here and I have no clue how anyone could ever describe this trail as "excellent" or "easy to follow." How are we even talking about the same trail?? Do not attempt the Sioux Hustler Trail unless you enjoy being lost in the wilderness while being eaten alive.

Great hike, amazing view from the top! "hard" is pretty accurate.

nature trips
7 months ago

Took my 12yr and 9yr niece yesterday! We reached the top but I didn’t look at this app beforehand, I just went on a recommendation. Def have good hiking boots with ankle support and bring water and backpack to have your hands free, and bug spray they got bad as we were getting out. Fun hike!

This is a Workout! 1:30 out. 1:10 back. 6.3 miles of an obstacle course of rocks and roots.
Enjoying the summit with your family...priceless.
A nice place to enjoy snacks with a view.

hiking
7 months ago

Second time here with a friend..... what can be said really? Great hike, beautiful views, wonderful northern MN hiking experience. Highly recommend

I would rate moderate....but loved the hike and view

Parking is across road from trailhead. Entrance had gorgeous wildflowers in July. beginning of trail is easy and maintained with chipped wood. great views of the river. Further up trail is steep with views of the ravine and several falls. Some sections are moderate. We went as far as the bridge. leas than 1 mile. Connects to Superior trail. lots of fun.

Fun hike, went with my parents and our dogs. Fairly easy trail for everyone. It took 2 hours to reach the summit, 1:45 to come back down (at mom's pace). Doable in 1:30 in and 1:30 out. Trail is well kept, downed logs were recently cleared.

It rained the night before so the bugs were very bad until we started accending. Make sure to bring bug spray. Was very cool out so there was lots of fog, so not much of a view at top for us. But it cleared a little on the decent so we got to see the summit as we rounded Whale Lake.

backpacking
8 months ago

I did a solo backpack loop in a clockwise direction over 3 days/2 nights (Saturday, 5/26 to Monday, 5/28). Unbelievably burly trail. I have hiked in many wild places in this country (lots of off-trail climbing and camping in the Rockies) and this is arguably the most challenging backpacking trip I have ever been on!

Day 1: The first 6 miles or so from the trail head to Devil's Cascade are well-traveled and easy to follow. All crossings over beaver dams were very easy to negotiate; the footing was firm and there was no doubt about the best way to navigate these crossings. They were some annoying downed logs/trees and wet trail crossings to deal with, but nothing too cumbersome. After a nice lunch at the spacious campground perched high above Devil's Cascade, I had some difficulty re-locating the trail (it veers off to the north just prior to the Pauness-Shell Portage Trail), and for the next stretch the trail was much more overgrown and harder to follow. At times, the path was very faint, but it was still relatively easy to follow. The amount of downfall increased substantially and travel was slow all the way to my first campsite on the rocky shores of Pageant Lake. I spent a lovely, calm evening there all to my lonesome. I was visited by pairs of commons loons and trumpeter swans while at the lake.

Day 2: This day just about broke me. Generally speaking, the trail from Pageant Lake to Shell Lake was plagued by downfall and countless wet, swampy, boggy areas. On this 12 mile stretch of trail, I counted nearly 100 trees that required some amount of effort to detour around, under, or over (this does not include the countless amount of smaller trees that obstructed the trail but were easy to step over). It was critical to pay attention to the narrow trail under your feet and to look for sawed logs (the only real "trail marker" that is identifiable with any regularity) to ensure I was on route! All of the beaver dam crossings were dry and very straightforward. One of the bogs was especially precarious to cross; I'm glad I didn't slip in because I fear I might still be wrestling to get my leg free from the muck! There were lots of ups and downs along the way, and many of the rocky rises had patches of pink lady's slipper on them! I passed 2 groups along the way (I presume they were to NurseMatt 116 and Beth Huplia, see their reviews below) and altogether this 12 mile stretch took me over 9.5 hours of trail time. Hot, humid, buggy conditions only made travel more challenging. I spent the second night at the canoeing site on Shell Lake (near the Shell-Little Shell portage). Very spacious site that could definitely host a large party.

Day 3: I hit the trail at 7am and hiked more-or-less straight out along the shore of Shell Lake to the main trail junction south of Devil's Cascade. From there, it was an easy hike back out to the trail head. It took about 4.5 hours for me to cover the last 8 miles or so.

Altogether, this trail is extremely rugged and not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for solitude with a multitude of camping options, look no further. I would not recommend this trail to a beginning backpacker, as the lack of signs, ample amount of downfall, and remoteness of the loop make this more appropriate for experienced backpackers only. Kudos to whatever amazing people conduct infrequent maintenance on this trail... when you see some of the huge sawed logs and take into consideration how far they are from a motor vehicle, it's virtually unthinkable to imagine the effort it takes to clear this route!

hiking
8 months ago

We had a wonderful time on this hike with our son who got his 9th highpoint. My husband hiked this about 40 years ago so it was a trip down memory lane for him. I have been doing the stairs at work for 6 weeks as training for hiking and this was a pretty strenuous hike for me. It took us 4 1/2 hours with rain for the middle section. Lots of mosquitos and lots of rocks and boulders. The view was lovely at the top. My son who is in great shape rated this as easy. My husband who is in pretty good shape rated it moderate and for me in my late 50s it was moderately hard. There were about 20 or so other people on the trail some with young kids.It was a great way to spend the 4th of July.

A beautiful well groomed trail and amazing scenery. Worked well for adults and kids ages 2-5.

on Sioux Hustler Trail

backpacking
9 months ago

I was in a group of 7 that did this trail counter-clockwise. We did this trail over 4 days and 3 nights-Day 1: 6 miles, Day 2: 10 miles, Day 3: 10 miles, and Day 4: 6 miles approximately. Overall the views were incredible—no doubt about that. However, the trails were very poorly maintained and even hard to follow at times. The area definitely caters way more to people who are using canoes. The campsites were very beautiful, but the trails to get there were absolutely exhausting. There was a ton of mud and downed trees that were not removed away from the trail. BE SURE TO TAKE A BUG NET WITH YOU. BE SURE TO TAKE EXTRA SOCKS. THIS TRAIL IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

backpacking
9 months ago

A friend and I just completed this trail last weekend. Of course, we had to pick one of the hottest of the year, but we found plenty of water to soak in and drink.
Went in at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and out by Sunday, 8:20 p.m. and it was pretty grueling. Both of us wanted to be out before Memorial Day so the pressure was on to complete it.
My description of this trail is: 1) wet; 2) obstructed with, I believe, the '99 blow down disaster; 3) remote, after Shell Lake; 4) easily followed, and 5) a wonderful challenge!
I want to thank everyone who worked on getting the trees cut and moved after the blow down. There is still some work needed, but it is still an awesome trail.

I suggest taking extra days to sit and enjoy the sites in this area. We saw a snapping turtle, two Great Blue Herons who seemed to follow us along, numerous moose, wolf, and bear signs, a variety of toads, a leopard frog, our state flower, the ladyslipper, and other various early season wildflowers.

Enjoy!

hiking
Friday, February 16, 2018

Awesome hike. Trail for the most part is well maintained. Gets hard to follow when you first get to Whale Lake, but just keep going straight. You'll feel the last 1/2 mile in your legs but easily doable. Finished roundtrip in just about 3 hours.

hiking
Thursday, February 08, 2018

Great hike. Beautiful fall day, overcast, 50 degrees. A number of muddy spots to step through or step around. Lots of rocks and tree roots to deal with. One water crossing to be made, guaranteed to get your feet wet. Five hour round trip for two 65 year-olds including a half hour lunch at the top.

hiking
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

This was an awesome hike for winter, if you walked inside the actual gorge. The river is mostly frozen over and provides a completely different kind of hike. It wasn’t a hard hike, but wasn’t for the faint of heart as sometimes as you could see the water flowing under the ice. Wearing ice cleats helped a lot too.

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