Thursday, April 5, 2012

Split Rock Loop; Superior Hiking Trail: April 4, 2012

I mentioned in my last post that I was confounded by how I would do solo dayhikes on a trail that has no loops - without doubling back all the time.  Well, maybe not NO loops...there's one.

The Split Rock Loop

Yesterday I left work a bit early, came home, threw Thunderdog in the car, and we headed up to the Split Rock Loop trailhead.  It is a 5-mile loop (4.6 of the actual SHT, .4 of spur trails to and from the loop).  It goes up the Split Rock River on the southwest side, crosses it, and then comes back down the northeast side.  The Split Rock River rumbles and tumbles down beautiful waterfalls and rapids on the way to Lake Superior. 

It was about 50 degrees, sunny, and perfectly clear yesterday afternoon.  Perfect hiking weather, in my humble opinion.  There are pros and cons to hiking so early in the season, though:

PROS:  The rivers are impressive:  ll of the snow melts (what there was of it this winter, anyway) and creates a river that roars as it gnashes against its banks on the way to the big lake.  Another Pro: I pretty much had the trail to myself.  The trail register had only one other traveler that day - another human/dog hiking pair. 

Trail Register - you'll find these every once
in a while along the trail

One hiker yesterday,
two hikers (and two dogs) today

CONS:  There's still a lot of "dead" out there.  Sure, there are buds on the trees and little sprig of ferns are fighting their way out from under the cover of brown leaves, but it's still pretty dead.  Another Con:  the trail is in rough shape.  A winter of freezing and melting does a number on trails that are built into hillsides and only sixteen inches wide to begin with.  There were several places in which I had nothing but a slanted, slippery few inches of path to navigate with a large, wiggly dog.  Luckily, we were just fine.

Waterfall on the Split Rock River
 The first part of the trail (the left bank) is kind of daunting at first.  Lots of up and down, loose rocks, little plank bridges that could use a bit of attention.  Following the river was beautiful, though.  I was rarely far enough away that I couldn't hear the water.

Uh oh...are these bridge remnants the place
that we were supposed to cross to the other side?

Oh good, there's an actual bridge.  Good.
If you look closely, it says "One Hiker at a time ONLY".
It's not that big so I could see why there's a restriction!
Thunderdog and I went across together, but I assume that's okay.

We passed three campsites and this one trail shelter.  Although you're not allowed to camp here,
it's a nice place to rest if you get caught in a rainshower or just want to get out of the sun for a while.
Thunderdog was very interested in what had been cooked in the campfire. 
Obligatory picture of the cutest hiking buddy in Minnesota. 
Total miles hiked today:  5.0

Total miles hiked (in 2012): 19.8

1 comment:

  1. That is one of Mark and I's favorite hikes along the North Shore. Glad you got to enjoy it!