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Summer adventures await on the Superior National Forest

15 under the radar camping, hiking & paddling adventures for 2024

Duluth, Minn., May 23, 2024-While many people seek out the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to explore, the Superior National Forest (SNF) highlights 15 'under the radar' water routes, hiking trails, and rustic or backcountry campgrounds outside of Wilderness for adventurers. There are three sites in each of the five districts across the forest to enjoy.

Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles. All backcountry and rustic campsites are first come-first serve, with no fee for camping. The following Superior NF under the radar 15 recreation area locations are outside of the Wilderness by ranger district and nearest town, along with a brief description and links to the SNF website listing.

Gunflint (Grand Marais area)

Twin Lakes Canoe Route–Six lakes linked by four portages make up the Twin Lakes Canoe Route. There are five backcountry campsites along the way, and lots of opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing.

Ball Club Lake–Two backcountry sites are available on this lake one located adjacent the parking lot and one available on the lake by canoe or motorboat. There is gravel boat ramp with a gravel parking lot. Each campsite has a fire grate, a latrine, and may have a picnic table. There is no public restroom available at the boat launch.

Superior National Forest - Ball Club Lake (

Cascade River Rustic Campground–This small campground is particularly suited to people who are planning to fish in the Cascade River or are looking for a remote place to camp. There are tables at the campsites and a new outhouse constructed last year with funds from the Great American Outdoors Act.

For more on recreational activities around the Gunflint area:

Tofte (Tofte area)

Crescent Lake–Great canoe route from Crescent Lake down to Rice Lake. Fishing Crescent Lake for walleye, muskie, and northern is easy with a boat ramp and trailer storage area, a barrier-free fishing pier, and several boat storage areas for canoes. From Crescent Lake, it is possible to portage into several other lakes and it can make a nice canoe route to paddle down to Rice Lake where there are three campsites and a portage to a small parking area.

Hogback Recreation Area–This recreation area has a rustic campground with three sites, a five-mile trail system passing six lakes with several different loops, and five backcountry campsites along the trail. There is also a boat launch and an accessible fishing pier.

Section 29 and Wilson Lake Rustic Campgrounds

Section 29 Rustic Campground has small four sites on the shore of Section 29 Lake.

Wilson Lake Rustic Campground has four sites accessible by car on the lakeshore with a drive down boat ramp and dock. Nearby Little Wilson Lake also has a boat ramp, and there is a portage trail from Wilson to Sister Lake.

For more on recreating around the Tofte area:

Laurentian (Aurora-Hoyt Lakes area)

Otto/Harris Trail–This is a three-mile hiking trail around Otto and Harris Lakes.

St. Louis River-Seven Beavers Lake-Round Lake Canoe Route–The St. Louis River site

offers one canoe-in campsite. From the river you can portage into Seven Beavers and Round Lakes that have three canoe-in sites on remote, quiet lakes with a good chance of seeing wildlife.

Pine Lake–This recreation area offers two boat-in and two drive-in sites. ATVs are allowed on the 500-foot portage. Camping is allowed in parking area

For more on recreating around the Laurentian area:

LaCroix (Cook area)

Astrid Lake Area–This area has seven miles of hiking trail, six backcountry campsites and a canoe route with four interconnected lakes, including Astrid Lake, Maude Lake, Pauline Lake and Nigh Lake. The area provides an opportunity to experience wilderness-style camping without wilderness permits and regulations.

Picket Lake–Picket Lake is a remote, quiet lake with three backcountry campsites.

Maude Lake Area–Maude Lake has two backcountry campsites that are accessible by a 120-rod portage off FR200, two miles south of the Echo Trail. Roadside parking is available. Additionally, the area offers opportunities to do the whole hunting shack canoe route. Great wilderness-style camping without wilderness permits and regulations.

For more on recreating around the LaCroix area:

Kawishiwi (Ely area)

Circle Route (Twin Lakes-Fenske Lake-Grassy Lake-Bass Lake Canoe Route)-This route offers 10 lakes and two rivers with backcountry campsites similar to those in the wilderness.

Nels Lake-This lake has two backcountry sites that resemble near- wilderness single party site. They are accessible by foot or boat.

Secret-Blackstone Lake Trail–This trail system has two loops; one is two miles, and the other is three miles long. The trail is ideal for taking a short hike with small children or a longer, more rugged overnight trip. There are numerous locations that overlook Secret, Blackstone, Ennis Lakes or one of several small ponds.

For more on recreating around the Kawishiwi area:

Outdoor safety and ethics considerations

Backcountry, rustic, and dispersed camping and boating routes offer a great way to enjoy the Superior National Forest without the fees of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Please use only the facilities for fires, tents, and human waste, if provided, and follow Leave No Trace ethics. If you pack it in, pack it out for garbage and gear. Camping is limited to 14 days within any continuous 30-day period at any location within the same 20-mile radius. Campfire restrictions can occur any time of year. Check for fire restrictions and if you build a campfire, know how to extinguish it. A fire pan is encouraged for dispersed camping if there is not a campfire restriction in effect. More safety and ethics can be found below.

The Superior National Forest is a recreation and water lovers family destination for all ages and abilities!

Learn more

Hiking on the Superior National Forest

Rustic camping on the Superior National Forest for rustic camping

Dispersed and backcountry camping on the Superior National Forest

Safety and Ethics on the Superior National Forest


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