Tidbits: Highest point in Minnesota
Summitted, May 17, 2009
Time Zone: GMT -7 hours
When to go:
Best to go between May through September if you want to avoid extensive snow and ice conditions .
Eagle Mountain Trail is the only way to get to the summit. The trail is 7 miles roundtrip with 600 feet of elevation gain.
Hotel and Climb Reservation:
There are many hotels available in Grand Marais, which is just a few miles from the trailhead. I stayed at the Best Western in Lake Superior which had great lake views. For a day hike you will need a permit, which you self-issue (without cost) at the trailhead. Overnight hiking trips require a permit from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and is available at a ranger station or from local sporting goods stores (note: overnight permits are in high demand during the warmer months, particularly on weekends, so you should book in advance if you are planning on camping).
Standard gear for a day hike. Hiking boots with a high-top and a change of socks are recommended due to wet conditions on the trail.
From Grand Marais, go north on US 61 and look for County Road 12, also known as Gunflint Trail, just north of town. Proceed just under 4 miles to County Road 8. Make a left and go about 5 1/2 miles to County Road 27 (on the right). Go 5 miles to Forest Road 170. Make a left and proceed about 5 miles to the parking area for the trailhead, which is located in a pull-off on the right.
After flying into the Minneapolis/Saint Paul airport, I braced for the drive of several hundred miles to Grand Marais. The highlight of the drive was the section that ran along the western banks of Lake Superior. Grand Marais was a nice little town with several hotels and outfitters. Canoeing is a big sport in this area, as is fishing, hiking, and snow-mobiling in the winter time. The next morning I set out in perfect weather.
The trailhead was easy to find. There is a self-issue permit station at the entrance to the trailhead. No fee is required if you are taking a day hike. The Eagle Mountain trail was a nice trek, passing through a beautiful forest. There were several areas that were VERY wet. Boards and logs were setup over the worst sections, but you should bring high-top hiking boots to avoid getting your feet drenched.
There are moose in the area...from what I understand, temperamental, ill-mannered moose...so if you see one, give them some space. There was still some snow on the trail in mid-May, but only in small patches. Along the trail you will pass Whale Lake , which I found to be particularly picturesque. Immediately after passing the lake, the summit trail splits off to the left and proceeds up a somewhat steep, rocky grade to a flat-top area. There will be nice views to the left and the true summit will be on your right (there were rock cairns marking the way, about 150 yards off the trail). At the summit itself there is a plaque.