Best Backpacking in Minnesota

Hiker resting and taking in an Autumn view in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region from Oberg Mountain
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In the heart of the Midwest, Minnesota offers a diverse and captivating playground for backpacking enthusiasts. From the expansive Superior Hiking Trail along the North Shore of Lake Superior, providing breathtaking views of the lake and dense forests, to the pristine wilderness of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, where interconnected lakes beckon both paddlers and backpackers alike. The rugged Kekekabic Trail in the Superior National Forest challenges those in search of solitude and a genuine wilderness experience. In the southern part of the state, Itasca State Park’s pine-filled forests and serene lakes cater to backpackers of all levels. Further north, Voyageurs National Park’s interconnected waterways and forested islands create a unique backpacking destination, inviting adventurers to explore remote wilderness. As you navigate these trails, remember to check conditions, secure permits, and uphold Leave No Trace principles, ensuring the preservation of Minnesota’s natural beauty.



Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail stretches over 300 miles along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Offering breathtaking views of the majestic lake, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests, this renowned trail is a favorite among backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its diverse terrain and challenging sections, the Superior Hiking Trail promises an unforgettable adventure through the natural wonders of Minnesota’s wilderness.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail:

  • Stunning Scenery: The Superior Hiking Trail treats backpackers to breathtaking views of Lake Superior, waterfalls, and lush forests, providing an ever-changing and captivating backdrop throughout the journey.
  • Diverse Terrain: With its varied landscape, the trail offers a mix of challenging sections and more leisurely stretches, making it suitable for both experienced hikers seeking a thrill and beginners looking for an immersive nature experience.
  • Abundant Wildlife: As backpackers traverse through the wilderness, they have the opportunity to spot various wildlife species, including birds, deer, and even the occasional glimpse of elusive mammals like black bears and wolves.
  • Backcountry Camping: The trail offers multiple backcountry camping sites, allowing backpackers to immerse themselves in nature and spend nights under the stars, creating a unique and unforgettable camping experience.
  • Outdoor Adventure: Whether trekking solo or with friends, the Superior Hiking Trail provides an exceptional outdoor adventure filled with opportunities for self-discovery, physical challenges, and a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Trekking Poles, Hiking Boots, Water Filter, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Headlamp


Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) stretches over a million acres in northern Minnesota, offering a pristine and vast wilderness experience for outdoor enthusiasts. This untouched expanse features interconnected lakes, rivers, and dense forests, providing a serene and remote setting for canoeing, camping, and backpacking. With its abundant wildlife and breathtaking natural beauty, the BWCAW beckons adventurers seeking to disconnect from the modern world and immerse themselves in the wonders of nature.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness:

  • Pristine Wilderness: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is an unspoiled and vast wilderness area, offering a unique opportunity to experience nature in its raw and untouched form.
  • Interconnected Waterways: With over a million acres of interconnected lakes and rivers, the BWCAW provides an exceptional canoeing and backpacking experience, allowing backpackers to explore different water routes and campsites.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Backpackers in the BWCAW have the chance to encounter a variety of wildlife, including moose, wolves, eagles, and loons, creating unforgettable moments with nature.
  • Remote and Serene: The remote nature of the wilderness area ensures a sense of tranquility and peacefulness, making it an ideal destination for those seeking solitude and a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
  • Backcountry Camping: Backpackers can camp at designated backcountry sites along the lakeshores, providing an opportunity to experience the simplicity and freedom of camping in the heart of nature.

Recommended Gear: Canoe/Kayak, Paddle, Dry Bags, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Camping Stove


Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park, situated in northern Minnesota near the Canadian border, is a wilderness gem awaiting exploration. Spanning across pristine lakes and dense forests, the park offers a remote and breathtaking experience for nature enthusiasts. Named after the French-Canadian fur traders who once navigated these waters, Voyageurs National Park beckons visitors to immerse themselves in its rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, and serene tranquility.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Voyageurs National Park:

  • Water-Based Adventure: Backpacking in Voyageurs National Park offers a unique opportunity to explore the park’s vast network of interconnected lakes, making it a water-based adventure with canoeing and kayaking opportunities.
  • Remote Wilderness: The park’s remote location and expansive wilderness provide a sense of solitude and escape from the modern world, making it an ideal destination for backpackers seeking tranquility and connection with nature.
  • Stunning Scenery: From picturesque lakes and rocky shorelines to lush forests and abundant wildlife, Voyageurs National Park offers breathtaking scenery and a chance to witness the beauty of northern Minnesota.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Backpackers can encounter a wide variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, loons, moose, and otters, providing unforgettable wildlife watching experiences throughout their journey.
  • Backcountry Camping: With designated backcountry campsites, backpackers can experience true wilderness camping, spending nights under the stars and enjoying the peace and quiet of the natural surroundings.

Recommended Gear: Canoe/Kayak, Paddle, Dry Bags, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Bear Canister


Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park, a remote and rugged island wilderness in Lake Superior, beckons adventurers seeking an unparalleled experience in nature. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park’s pristine landscapes, dense forests, and serene shorelines create an enchanting escape for backpackers. Known for its unique ecosystem and opportunities to encounter wildlife like wolves and moose, Isle Royale offers an extraordinary journey into the heart of untouched beauty.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Isle Royale National Park:

  • Wilderness Adventure: Backpacking in Isle Royale National Park offers a true wilderness experience, immersing hikers in a remote and untamed environment surrounded by the vastness of Lake Superior.
  • Unique Ecosystem: The park’s isolated location has resulted in a distinctive ecosystem, with species like wolves and moose thriving on the island, providing backpackers with a rare opportunity to observe and appreciate these animals in their natural habitat.
  • Tranquil Seclusion: With limited access and visitor numbers, Isle Royale offers a sense of tranquility and seclusion, making it an ideal destination for backpackers seeking solitude and a break from the busy world.
  • Scenic Hiking Trails: The island’s network of hiking trails offers a variety of terrains, from rocky ridges to lush forests, providing stunning views and rewarding challenges for hikers of all skill levels.
  • Water-Based Exploration: Besides hiking, the park’s waters offer opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, allowing backpackers to further explore the beauty and serenity of Lake Superior and its surroundings.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Rain Jacket, Water Filter, Bear-Resistant Food Containers, Map/Compass, Headlamp


Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cooke State Park, a nature enthusiast’s paradise in Minnesota, boasts breathtaking landscapes and recreational opportunities. Spanning along the St. Louis River, the park features rugged gorges, scenic overlooks, and cascading waterfalls that create a picturesque setting for visitors. Hikers, backpackers, and outdoor lovers can explore the diverse trails, witness the beauty of the river, and immerse themselves in the natural wonders of Jay Cooke State Park.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Jay Cooke State Park:

  • Scenic Trails: Jay Cooke State Park offers a variety of scenic trails, taking backpackers through rugged gorges, lush forests, and alongside picturesque waterfalls, providing captivating views and photo opportunities.
  • St. Louis River: Backpackers can enjoy the serene beauty of the St. Louis River, as the park’s trails wind along its banks, offering opportunities for riverside relaxation and peaceful moments in nature.
  • Abundant Wildlife: The park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and various bird species, providing backpackers with chances to spot and appreciate the park’s natural inhabitants.
  • Overlooks and Vistas: Jay Cooke State Park features stunning overlooks and vistas, rewarding hikers with panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscapes, making the backpacking experience even more rewarding.
  • Backcountry Camping: With designated backcountry campsites, backpackers can camp under the stars, surrounded by the tranquility of nature, and enjoy a true outdoor adventure in this beautiful state park.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Bottle, Trail Map, Insect Repellent, Camping Stove, First Aid Kit


Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, perched along the rugged shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota, offers a picturesque escape into nature’s beauty. The park is famous for its iconic lighthouse, standing tall on the cliffside, overlooking the vast expanse of the lake. With scenic hiking trails, stunning views of the rocky shoreline, and opportunities for camping and picnicking, visitors can immerse themselves in the enchanting charm of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park:

  • Scenic Coastal Trails: Backpacking in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park provides access to scenic coastal trails with breathtaking views of Lake Superior, offering hikers a chance to witness the beauty of the rocky shoreline.
  • Iconic Lighthouse: The park’s famous lighthouse stands as a historical landmark and offers a unique opportunity for backpackers to admire and photograph this picturesque structure.
  • Camping by the Lake: Backpackers can camp near the shores of Lake Superior, enjoying the calming sound of waves and the opportunity to witness stunning sunrises and sunsets over the lake.
  • Abundant Wildlife: The park’s diverse ecosystem supports various wildlife, including birds, deer, and other small mammals, providing backpackers with opportunities for wildlife sightings throughout their journey.
  • Outdoor Recreation: In addition to hiking and camping, the park offers activities like fishing, picnicking, and birdwatching, making it an excellent destination for backpackers seeking a well-rounded outdoor experience.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Bottle, Trail Map, Headlamp, Tent, Insect Repellent


George Crosby Manitou State Park

George Crosby Manitou State Park, a hidden gem nestled in northeastern Minnesota, offers a secluded wilderness escape for outdoor enthusiasts. The park features the rugged Manitou River Gorge, pristine forests, and an array of wildlife. With its challenging trails and remote campsites, backpackers can immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature and embark on an unforgettable adventure in this serene park.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in George Crosby Manitou State Park:

  • Secluded Wilderness: Backpacking in George Crosby Manitou State Park offers a chance to escape the crowds and immerse oneself in the peaceful and secluded wilderness of northeastern Minnesota.
  • Rugged Manitou River Gorge: The park’s centerpiece, the Manitou River Gorge, presents a challenging and awe-inspiring landscape for backpackers, providing a unique and rewarding hiking experience.
  • Pristine Forests: The park’s dense forests of spruce, fir, and maple create a serene setting for backpackers to explore, offering a chance to connect with nature in its undisturbed state.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Backpackers may encounter various wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, black bears, and a variety of bird species, making the journey even more exciting and memorable.
  • Remote Camping: With remote backcountry campsites available, backpackers can truly disconnect from the outside world and enjoy peaceful nights under the stars, surrounded by the sounds of the wilderness.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Bottle, Water Filter, Sleeping Bag, Trekking Poles, Insect Repellent


Temperance River State Park

Temperance River State Park, a natural wonder nestled on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, invites visitors into a captivating world of waterfalls, rugged gorges, and pristine wilderness. The Temperance River carves its way through the park’s rocky terrain, creating breathtaking cascades and scenic trails for exploration. Backpackers can revel in the park’s serene beauty, a testament to the power of nature’s artistry.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Temperance River State Park:

  • Breathtaking Waterfalls: Backpacking in Temperance River State Park offers the chance to witness and explore a series of stunning waterfalls, adding an element of beauty and wonder to the hiking experience.
  • Rugged Gorges: The park’s rugged gorges and rocky terrain create a dramatic landscape, providing backpackers with a unique and adventurous environment to traverse.
  • Tranquil Wilderness: Backpackers can immerse themselves in the serene and untouched wilderness of the park, enjoying a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
  • Scenic Hiking Trails: The park offers a variety of scenic hiking trails, including those along the river and through dense forests, presenting backpackers with diverse landscapes to explore.
  • Proximity to Lake Superior: Located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, backpackers can enjoy stunning views of the vast lake and its shoreline, adding to the allure of the backpacking experience.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Bottle, Trail Map, Insect Repellent, Tent, Headlamp


Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche State Park, gracing the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, is a breathtaking wilderness sanctuary for nature enthusiasts. This park features towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests, offering a mesmerizing blend of scenic beauty and outdoor adventure. With miles of hiking trails, picturesque campsites, and opportunities for lakeside relaxation, Tettegouche State Park promises an unforgettable escape into the heart of nature.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Tettegouche State Park:

  • Spectacular Scenery: Backpacking in Tettegouche State Park provides stunning views of towering cliffs, waterfalls, and the majestic Lake Superior, offering a visual feast for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Diverse Hiking Trails: The park offers a variety of hiking trails, catering to different skill levels and interests, providing backpackers with ample opportunities to explore the diverse landscapes of the North Shore.
  • Lakeside Camping: Backpackers can enjoy lakeside camping, setting up their tents near the shores of Lake Superior, allowing for a tranquil and picturesque camping experience.
  • Abundant Wildlife: The park is home to various wildlife species, including deer, foxes, and numerous bird species, providing backpackers with chances to observe and appreciate the park’s natural inhabitants.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Beyond backpacking, Tettegouche State Park offers activities like rock climbing, fishing, and birdwatching, ensuring a well-rounded and adventurous experience for visitors.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Bottle, Trail Map, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Headlamp


Banning State Park

Banning State Park, a hidden gem in Minnesota, beckons nature enthusiasts with its rugged beauty and historical charm. Carved by the serene Kettle River, the park boasts stunning sandstone rock formations, scenic waterfalls, and picturesque hiking trails. As visitors explore the park’s diverse landscapes, they can uncover the remnants of its rich logging history, making Banning State Park a captivating destination for outdoor exploration.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Banning State Park:

  • Scenic Trails: Backpacking in Banning State Park offers access to scenic hiking trails, showcasing breathtaking views of sandstone rock formations and cascading waterfalls.
  • Kettle River Gorge: The park’s highlight, the Kettle River Gorge, provides a stunning backdrop for backpackers, offering opportunities for exploration and appreciation of the river’s tranquil beauty.
  • Historical Charm: Backpackers can discover the park’s logging history through remnants of old structures, adding a fascinating historical element to the hiking experience.
  • Abundant Wildlife: The park’s diverse ecosystem supports various wildlife, making it a great destination for backpackers interested in observing and encountering animals in their natural habitat.
  • Peaceful Escape: With its secluded location and tranquil atmosphere, Banning State Park offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, providing backpackers with a chance to reconnect with nature.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Bottle, Trail Map, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Headlamp


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