Monday, September 30, 2013

Twin Lakes Trail: A blast from the past

I've been stuck in Duluth this last week or so, wishing I could be out hiking in the fall colors. I hear the colors are near peak. I thought I'd repost a blog entry about one of the best fall color hikes on the shore. Enjoy! Andrew

One of the best hikes on the North Shore is the Twin Lakes Trail, also known as the Bean and Bear Lakes hike. Most people hike to Bean Lake on the Superior Hiking Trail, off of Penn Boulevard. The Twin Lakes Trail has its own trailhead, right in town in Silver Bay. I think this access is more wild and more interesting.

The hike is 6.8 miles long and involves some pretty good climbing, so it's not suited for young children. Pack a lunch, too. Not only will you need the calories, but there are three really great lunch spots to sit and enjoy the meal with a view.

You'll find the Twin Lakes Trail trailhead 0.3 miles up from the Highway 61 Silver Bay stoplights up Outer Drive. The parking lot is also for the visitor information center run by the Bay Area Historical Society. From the corner of the parking lot, the trail follows a wide gravel ATV trail for about 0.3 miles. Then the hiking trail cuts to the right off the ATV trail.

Silver Bay was the center of the damage from the April ice storm. This trail had been hit hard, by falling trees and broken branches. But the trail crews had cleared nearly the entire loop. THANK YOU TRAIL CREWS!!

It's a lollipop loop, so you'll hike up 1.8 miles on the "stick" of the lollipop. That gets you to the crux move. Left or right?

I enjoyed going left and hiking clockwise around the 3.1 mile main loop.

Some highlights, in hiking order:

1) The view from the top of Elam's Knob, as the town of Silver Bay gets swallowed by the hills and forest and lake:

2) The dramatic cliffs and far-below views of Bean Lake:

3) The full view of Bear (close) and Bean (far) lakes:

It's a great hike anytime of year. At least half of the hike is in maple woods, so it's gorgeous in the fall. The spring wildflowers were nice this week.

Get out and go wild!