September and October are my two favorite months to be in northeastern Minnesota. Good bye pesky skeeters and flies, hello warm days and cool nights, and the colors all make these two months the best! The following are a few of my favorite fall color adventures I would like to share with you. These adventures are not listed in detail, or as a guide, but more as a suggestion for which you can further investigate and make your own adventure.
Autumn Whitewater Rafting on the St. Louis River
For starters I love whitewater rafting and kayaking on the St. Louis River in the fall. Typically, as the leaves change color the trees and plants soak up less water and fall rains have more of an impact in the St. Louis watershed, so river levels usually rise from fall rains. I also really like that mosquitos taper off. They aren’t really an issue when rafting along the St. Louis River but if you go in the woods for any length of time they will find you in peak summer months. In the fall bugs bugger off!
Fall Mountain Biking
If you haven’t tried mountain biking or you did years ago and left it to the wayside: dude, you are missing out! Mountain biking is the bees knees! Mt. biking does’nt require mountains to ride, in fact some of the best flow or technical trails aren’t even ion mountain towns but are in our just on the outskirts of Duluth!
International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has labeled Duluth as a Gold Rider location/destination for trails. With well over 100 miles, thanks to COGGS, of quality trails for beginners to the veteran shredder you won’t be disappointed. The new age of mountain biking is here and its fast, flowy, friendly, and fun.
Even with fall rains, there just seems to be a lot of dry days (equating to dry trails) to ride so fall is a superb time to get out and ride. Visit Cyclists of Gitchie Gumme Shores (COGGS) website to learn more about the trails, locations, conditions and maps: https://www.coggs.com/
If you don’t have a bike and want to rent or buy one contact one of these business in Duluth: The Ski Hut, Continental Ski and Bike, Twin Ports Cyclery, Stewarts Bike Shop, Galleria Bikes or Carlton Bike and Rental. If you are looking to hire a guide service contact the Duluth Experience or Day Tripper of Duluth.
Really, anywhere with trees and a descent view work for me as far as a hiking adventure go. I love hiking around Oldenberg overlook and the Ogantz trail in Jay Cooke St. Park for breathtaking vistas of the Dalles of the St. Louis River. The Superior Hiking trail also heads north from the park.
The Supeior Hiking trail (SHT) is a Swiss Army Knife of hiking options: ancient forests, urban adventure day hikes in its Duluth sections, incredible vistas of Lake Superior, cascading rivers and canyons, rocky outcrops and rugged hiking, and long stretches of wilderness. If you haven’t hiked any of this gem, then get some hikers together and go.
Almost all of the state parks from Jay Cooke heading north along Lake Superior’s north shore to the Canadian border will have trail maps of that park and the SHT. I also suggest purchasing Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail put out by the SHT Trail Association. This guide book has maps, a synopsis of each section, points of interest and their mile markers and good stories. Visit SHTs website for more resources: https://shta.org/
Fall BWCA Trip
After having spent two decades of exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness I have found that I love autumn there the most. And while I have not been to every single lake, nook or cranny, I have explored a fare bit and I have a few choice spots of which I try to hit each fall.
Obviously wilderness traveling by canoe requires some experience and careful planning at the very least. I don’t suggest you just pack up with reckless abandon and little to no experience and go, but you don’t have to be a hardened wilderness warrior to go either. I suggest either hiring a guide or guiding service if it’s your first time. This way an experienced wilderness traveler to set you up for success. If you have some canoeing experience this could be a helpful article on preparing for a BWCA trip: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/08/11/newbie-guide-to-boundary-waters-camping
This is of course a quick summary of some of my fall favorites, but if you are headed up to Duluth or beyond this coming fall then I highly suggest you come rafting on the St. Louis River to kick off your northern Minnesota adventure.
See you on the river…or trails!