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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.

The Forest Service marker calls this Northern Light Lake overlook trail. good parking at the trail head. The trail is well maintained and lightly used. We are 67 but experienced hikers and would rate this hard but worth the trek. Some rocks and roots but trail is clear. there are several spots with views of the Northern Lights lake and nearby lakes.
Nice hike. The only negative was the sound of traffic on Gunflint Trail, this time if year as people head in to BWCA.

Start at Woods Creek, walk along Devils Track, and up to the summit on Pincushion and you will not be disappointed.

I really like this hike. Fairly easy hiking, little incline, and tons of nice lookout points.

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.

might have been all the rain we have gotten. it’s pretty overgrown. But it’s a good trail, lots of berries to snack on, a few places for pictures. lots of other trails that aren’t on the apps map. overall pretty easy trail.

Nice family hike with great views of the lakes, pines and Forrest

backpacking
16 days 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
16 days 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.

The damage from severe weather a year prior is still apparent. The trail is extremely rough due to this and I do not suggest trying unless you are an expert hiker. A friend and me tried this hike and got half way and could not continue due to harsh terrain.

The Pincushion Mountain trails are great for skiing, but a little boring for hiking--wide grassy trails. There are great views from the overlook. The trail along the Devil Track River is much more interesting.

Excellent trail and one that I found surprisingly challenging. Be prepared for plenty of bugs and rugged terrain. Beautiful and secluded.

This trail is very short and about 27 miles down the Gunflint Trail but totally worth it if you have the time. Beautiful views and to make the time getting to it worth it plan a little picnic for the top. Great flat rocks to sit on. It’s a bit of an up with the stairs so keep that in mind but pretty accessible otherwise.

Such a great hike for all ages! It has a views, a fun rugged trail and even the 8yr old, who has a strong disdain for hiking thought it was awesome.

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

One of my favorite hikes, it’s best in the fall!

backpacking
1 month 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
1 month 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!

backpacking
1 month ago

Awesome trail loop! My daughter and I loved crossing the beavers dam. Yes it is part of the trail and plan on getting your feet wet. Went on May 19th of 2018 and bugs were almost non existent and no ticks. Weather was perfect also. Trail could use some better signage. Totally recommend a compass and good paper map. Met two people who thought the gps on their phone would work back there but they ended up going back. Lots of ups and downs so plan on a work out. Beautiful place look forward to going back.

This trail has been re opened during the summer of 2017. contact the US Forest service Kawishiwi District in Ely for current conditions.

beautiful scenery, forest floor full of flowers. 5/22/18

Beautiful hike, lots of mushrooms in the fall. Great views!

Got in the fall at sunrise or sunset... beautiful

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
5 months ago

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.

on Bass and Dry Lake Loop

hiking
5 months ago

my first official trail. we did it in the winter. clearly defined due to snow tracks. suggest ice cleats for your shoes/boots in winter. great scenery. want to do this again in summer.

hiking
5 months ago

Nice walk only one tree across trail just before rock

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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