Eagle Mountain, at 2,301 feet, is the highest point in Minnesota. We first hiked it in July of 2001, as part of our quest to reach all of the highpoints in the United States [we’ve got six left; unfortunately, these six are among the hardest of the lot]. We remembered the trail to the summit as pretty straightforward and therefore likely suitable for a family-style hike. The lure of a highpoint was even sufficient to draw one of our typically non-hiking members out on to the trail. So six of us found our way to the Eagle Mountain trailhead (not far from Lutsen, Minnesota) and set out on our summit bid. Since our first hike here lo those many years ago, the popularity of this highpoint seems to have increased, and the trail is now a well-worn and obvious path through the woods.
The first two miles of this somewhat rough and rocky trail undulates slightly through a thick forest (more of that green tunnel),
enters the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, crosses three boardwalks,
and passes a few places where the woods open up just a bit, either for a small pond or for a large meadow.
Whale Lake is a welcome break from the forest tunnel,
and from there it’s only a short distance, and a moderate climb, to the first viewpoint looking south out over the amazingly bright green carpet. This is not the summit but, unfortunately, a group that had passed us decided it was, took a bunch of “summit” selfies, and headed back before we could say anything. HYOH I guess?
You have to go a little further along the trail to another viewpoint,
before turning uphill into the trees to the viewless summit, graced by a large plaque and a benchmark.
This is a moderate hike to an iconic destination, so there were plenty of other people on the summit and along the trail. There were also some irritating flying insects but, compared to what we’d expected, these were no big deal. We had a snack and a break at the second viewpoint, where a good breeze kept us cool and pushed the flying insects away, and then headed back. Along the way, our previously cloudless day started to develop clouds, but nothing came of these before we got back to the cars.
All told, a moderate (6.8 mile roundtrip; 600 feet of elevation gain) hike to an iconic highpoint on a cool, sunny, minimally buggy day. Everyone seemed to have a good time and we were back early enough for lunch at the Angry Trout Cafe in Grand Marais. We had eaten there after our first hike of Eagle Mountain and were very pleased to find it still here and going strong. Walleye burgers and local craft beer – North Shore nirvana!