Explore the most popular trails near Northeast St Louis with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Northeast St Louis, Minnesota Map
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backpacking
1 month 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!

backpacking
2 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
2 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!

backpacking
9 months ago

Just finished the loop this past weekend for 4 days,3 nights. Went with the same 2 guys as before. Could easily have made it 2 nights (hike out the last day instead of staying right near the fork). The trail was in excellent condition. I had a Fenix 5x gps watch and map/compass. Note the devils cascade site was occupied by canoers, something I'm guessing happens quite a bit.

backpacking
Monday, September 26, 2016

Did a partial weekend trip up to little shell with 3 hikers, Myselff with good experience, one with quite a few trips, one with minimal backpacking but much canoe experience. Bring a map and compass and know how to use them as this a a relatively primitive trail. Get a good DNR map NOT the printable ones online. Watch for rock cairns and sawn trees. These are the ONLY markers. Comparing this to the SHT, it is much more "out there" meaning you are litterally in the the bush with, at some points, a very tight trail that can be easily lost. With that said it has been my favorite backpacking trail I have done, definately will be back to do the full. Note that the campsite along the first portage is impassable due to the portage being flooded 1/2 through, unless you like wading 4' water/

Friday, May 13, 2016

I liked turtles, but not after this...

hiking
Friday, March 16, 2012

A wonderfully remote and challenging loop trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, northwest of Ely, MN. Though it's rugged single-track is ripe with roots, rocks and blowdowns, the trail is well worn and relatively easy to follow for experienced hikers. The views are spectacular as you loop around several lakes, across high ridges and through swamps, often using beaver dams as crossings. Water is plentiful and clear but the campgrounds are sparse (especially on the northwestern side).

Overall, if you like solitude and challenge, you'll find the silence and beauty of this remote trail as restorative for the soul as the exertion of it's multi-day 32 miles is for the body.

on Sioux Hustler Trail

Saturday, June 18, 2016