Hiking the SHT’s Silver Creek near Two Harbors

On the Superior Hiking Trail from Reeves Road to Lake County Road 301 (Fors Road) section. It took me eleven separate day hikes and two full hiking seasons, but I finally finished my hiking challenge: hike from my front door in Duluth to Two Harbors on the Superior Hiking Trail. 66 miles. Clearcuts and snowmobile trails. Lovely maple forests in spring, summer and fall. Plus some great hiking companions.

The best of those hiking companions was my wife, Sally. So I’m glad it was she and I that hiked the last 5.4 miles of the challenge. We arranged our own shuttle by driving two cars to the Lake County Road 301 trailhead, which is off of Highway 3 and just northeast of Two Harbors (turn left just past Betty’s Pies on Highway 61). We then left one car there and continued driving the second car on back roads over to Lake County Highway 2 (which is the main highway going north from Two Harbors). We parked the second car at the SHT’s Reeves Road trailhead and headed out on foot, on the trail eventually bringing us back to our first car.

Like a number of the SHT sections between Duluth and Two Harbors, this one has boring sections interspersed with the lovely wild hiking sections most people associate with the SHT. The first half of this section was the boring part. We walked a half mile on Highway 2 (the SHT calls it “roadwalking”), then another half mile on a wide, straight, sometimes muddy snowmobile trail. We dipped into the woods from the snowmobile trail and the next mile was straight through a third-growth forest…literally “straight through” because the route followed the edge of private land parcels.

The trail starts with roadwalking on Highway 2.

The trail starts with “roadwalking” on Highway 2.

Then just as boredom might have finished us off, the trail turned to the right and began to wind around through the woods, just like a regular hiking trail should. The second half of the hike was down lovely Silver Creek, with the trail right along the bank for almost two miles. Silver Creek was just beginning to freeze, so the quiet water was laced with crystals. When the trail ran along the riverbank, we could see one little waterfall after another. It was peaceful and intimate.

Just as hiking boredom hit, the trail turned to the right and into the woods.

Thankfully the trail turned right, into the woods…and the hiking got interesting.

The trail runs along lovely Silver Creek for almost two miles.

The trail runs along lovely Silver Creek for almost two miles.

We stopped for lunch at the Silver Creek campsite. SHT campsites can be perfect for day hiker lunch breaks, especially when they are not in use by backpackers. The campsites have rudimentary benches around a fire pit and a wilderness latrine.

We stopped for lunch at Silver Creek campsite, just up from the creek.

We stopped for lunch at Silver Creek campsite, just up from the creek.

The campsite was just a mile from the end of the section. We finished lunch, chilled from sitting still in the damp, 30-degree temps, then finished the hike still wearing all of our extra layers we had donned for eating lunch. While the temperature was pleasant for walking, it was cold for relaxing and eating sandwiches with bare hands.

Unless you are intent on a complete trail through-hike—either the honest backpacking kind or the simple day hike kind—there’s no need to hike the Duluth to Two Harbors sections from end to end. Instead, pick the trail highlights. For this particular section, I’d recommend starting at the Highway 301 trailhead and hike 2.8 miles up Silver Creek. Do it in spring when the water is rushing or in the heat of summer when you could explore the cool pools below the little waterfalls. Enjoy the creek and trail, and then head back to the same trailhead you started at. Skip the boring half, enjoy the wild, winding half.

For complete Superior Hiking Trail Association information for the trail between Duluth and Two Harbors, see the Association’s website here. You’ll find trailhead directions, maps and mile-by-mile trail descriptions for all sections.


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