Minnesota’s Best Fall Color Hike: Oberg Mountain Loop Trail

hike oberg mountain

Of course “the best” of anything is always up for debate. But in this case, the Oberg Mountain Loop hiking trail is absolutely in the running for Minnesota’s Best Fall Color Hike.

This hike is known for it’s several spectacular views of Lake Superior as well as views of the surrounding “mountains” and inland lake.

Where and When to Hike Oberg Mountain

The Oberg Mountain trailhead is located a couple miles up the Onion River Road, accessed off Highway 61 between Tofte and Lutsen. You’ll see a brown sign on 61 for the Superior Hiking Trail just before, coming from either direction.

While it’s gorgeous anytime of the year, the peak of fall color is most popular. Especially when the maples are peaking, which is a week or two earlier than the aspen.

oberg mountain hike
Overlooking brilliant maples along the Oberg Mountain Loop Hiking Trail.

In fact, it’s so popular during weekends in late September and early October you may want to consider going up mid-week instead! My sister and I were there on a Saturday a couple years ago and the fairly large (for North Shore hikes) parking area was full and overflowing.

If you don’t make it in the fall, another wonderful time is in early June when all the spring wildflowers are blooming. One year we brought our Minnesota Wildflower book and identified 17 different kinds of flowers on this hike.

This is also a popular cross-country ski and snowshoe destination in the winter.

What Makes the Oberg Mountain Trail So Great

A GREAT HIKE FOR ALL AGES—I did this hike many moons ago with our-then-young children and an uncle in his 70s. At 2.2 miles with a moderate elevation grade, everyone handled it just fine.

Oberg Mountain views
My friends Mike & Kathi at one of Oberg’s many overlooks, with Lake Superior in the background.

SPECTACULAR VIEWS OF LAKE SUPERIOR—Lake Superior is beautiful anytime of the year. We’ve been on this hike in the spring and late fall when the forest isn’t at its best. But the Lake is always worth seeing.

MAGICAL FOREST TRAIL—Have you read or seen Lord of the Rings? In the fall here you feel like you’re in Lothlorian with the maples along the trail all in yellow. If there’s a light breeze wafting the leaves down gently through the forest—wow!

Oberg Mountain Hike yellow maples
The magical hike through Oberg’s woods.

MORE SPECTACULAR VIEWS OF THE INLAND MOUNTAINS AND OBERG LAKE—When you climb the early switchback section of the trail, you’ll hit a T. We like to head to the right for the Lake views first. Then the inland views come as we make our way around the summit. Steep cliffs, neighboring peaks and an inland lake all make that side wonderful, too.

Oberg Lake overlook
Overlooking Oberg Lake and the inland ridges.

If you’re a native Minnesotan, this hike needs to be on your bucket list. Even if you’re not, put this on your to-do list when you come visit. This is the North Shore hike I’ve done the most and never get tired of it.


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