For the next two weeks, it will be deer season on the North Shore and throughout Minnesota. 500,000 hunters will take to the woods and do their part to reduce the voracious deer herd. Thank you, deer hunters: every deer you shoot leaves hundreds of white pines and cedar trees free to grow.
For the other three million Minnesotans who are not out deer hunting this week, the great outdoors is still open. Grab your blaze orange cap and vest and head on out.
Here's a great fall hike that's in a hunt-free zone: Split Rock Lighthouse State Park between Lake Superior and Highway 61. It's the three and a half mile hike to Corundum Point and back.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park surrounds...you guessed it...Split Rock Lighthouse. Since the lighthouse is so popular, many people forget about the expansive state park beyond. The park has the best, accessible lakeshore of any North Shore state park. There are miles of hiking trails. Split Rock's trails are particularly good for hiking in the fall, since the grass has been mowed back. Try to go on a cool morning, when the ground might still be frozen.
Turn off Highway 61 at mile marker 46, a few miles past Gooseberry Falls State Park. Pick up your state park vehicle permit at the park office. Then follow the signs to the park's trail center. Park the car here and head out.
You can follow the park's Hiking Club Trail signs all the way to Corundum Point. Basically, you're following whatever trail is closest to the lakeshore going west. You start going along Little Two Harbors Bay. Views of the lighthouse open up as you near the first point (first picture above). The trail enters the park's campground; you'll walk by most of the scenic lakeshore campsites.
The trail winds around the steep side of Day Hill, passes a rugged North Shore cobblestone beach, then reaches the spur trail up to Corundum Point.
Take the short spur trail to the top of Corundum Point. The trail gets rougher as you go; keep pushing on, since the view from the top is spectacular.
FYI, if you go to the park on November 10th, stay around for the annual lighting of the beacon, on the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.