I’ve been going back and forth along Lake Superior’s North Shore since 1987, and I finally discovered the beautiful hike to Shovel Point in Tettegouche State Park.
I can’t believe it took me this long! Not only is it one of the most scenic hikes along the Shore, it’s short enough to do in an hour. I’ve been on it three times since April now, and can’t wait to bring my other family and friends!
What’s to Love about the Hike to Shovel Point
THE STUNNING VIEWS—And not just one, but several! You’ll not be on the trail 3 minutes before the first overlook. In this view you’ll see the mouth of the Baptism River and Palisade Head. Be sure to take the spur trails that lead down to the shore, too, or you’ll miss looking up at the towering cliffs. It’s a fair bit of up and down, but well worth it.
After walking up multiple steps on the main trail, you’ll reach the high point of the peninsula. You can look toward the southwest and see Palisade Head and the shoreline from much higher up this time. This is a popular spot for rock climbers, so you may see some while you’re there.
The views don’t stop there! Go back to the trail and keep following it towards the end of the point. You know you’re there when you’re back down closer to the water and you see the wooden steps and viewing platform.
Once you’ve had a chance to take in the expansive view of Lake Superior from the viewing platform, stay to the north side of the peninsula for even more beauty. If there’s fog or big waves, like the times I was there this summer, it’s hard to leave!
That trail will circle back around to connect with the main trail bringing you up top again, and back to the Visitor Center.
LAKE SUPERIOR IS ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL—No matter what season or weather you get when you hike this trail, the spectacular views and being by the biggest freshwater lake in the world is always worth it. The mood of the lake changes all the time, so it could be a different experience each time you go. That’s how it was for me this year.
FLOWERS, BERRIES AND FOREST—June brings out some of the loveliest wildflowers, and July and early August bring out the raspberries and more flowers. The woods here are lush with lots of various evergreens, aspen and birch.
IT’S DO-ABLE FOR ALL AGES—You do want to have good knees since there are lots of steps. But we saw folks from toddlers to the elderly on the trail. It’s short—just a 1.25 miles round trip (2k). I love what it says on the Superior Hiking Trail website:
“You will be surprised how long it takes you to complete it. Not because it is difficult hiking–but because of all the stopping you’ll be doing to enjoy the views!”
What’s Not to Love
One of the main reasons we haven’t stopped at Tettegouche over the years is it’s CROWDED in the summers. At least it’s crowded in the main parking lot and at the Visitor Center. The campground is routinely full every summer weekend, and even the weekends in September.
We discovered quickly, though, that very few of the folks who make it to the Visitor Center continue on behind it to the trailhead for Shovel Point. And even fewer hike further along the trail than the towering palisades.
So while you’ll have to share the parking lot and Visitor Center with loads of people, and maybe the start of the trail, chances are it’ll thin out enough for you to enjoy the hike before too long.
The Final Word
If you’re on the North Shore, do this hike!
If you only have time for one hike, do this one! You won’t regret it.
You’ll also like:
- Lake Superior’s North Shore
- Spring Hiking on Lake Superior’s North Shore (there’s a photo from this hike in April, after a major winter storm left ice sculptures on the trees—so cool!)
- 15 Favorite Midwestern Wildflowers (includes several you’ll see on this hike in the right season)
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.