Tettegouche Lakes Loop (Minnesota) 09-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Our second to last day on the North Shore suffered less than optimal weather, necessitating excessive sitting around, so we decided to do a longer, more involved hike on our last day to compensate for such sloth.  The rest of the family decided that sloth, or perhaps golf (?), worked better for them and that we were on our own for this romp in the woods. After consulting Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shore guidebook (2014 edition), we settled on the Tettegouche Lakes Loop (his Hike #24) because it seemed to offer some wide views interspersed with close-ups of lakes.  At 10 miles of hiking and 900 feet of elevation gain (depending on how you measure it), plus a scramble up the “Drainpipe,” it seemed like a great way to further fritter away our golden years.


We awoke to sunny skies but by the time we started driving south to Tettegouche State Park, a fog had rolled in, obscuring most everything. Still, we made it to the park and, after paying the $5 day fee, rolled on up to the trailhead. We started on a wide shared hiking/skiing trail,

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Contemplating the park map at the start of the trail

slipped past a juvenile squirrel munching away unperturbed next to the trail,

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Breakfast at trailside

and, in 0.3 miles, turned on to the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT),

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

On the Superior Hiking Trail

worked our way around a guard toad who refused to relinquish the center of the trail,

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Go around!

to the base of the Drainpipe. The guidebook described this as a Class 3 climb but we didn’t think it quite rose to that level of hand- and footholding. More of a scramble up dirt covered rocks and past a handrail that was above the LovedOne’s head. Coming down it might be another matter.

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Ascending the Drainpipe

Past the Drainpipe, the SHT tops out on a ridge but the morning’s fog was still holding-on and any views were – how to say this – limited.

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Our view from above the Drainpipe

So we kept going, dropping once again into the green tunnel,

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Heading toward Micmac Lake

eventually leaving the SHT for park trails near Micmac Lake. A bunch of trails converge between Micmac (or Mic Mac) and Tetagouche (or Tettegouche) Lakes [there being spelling differences between the USGS and park maps] but thanks to clear signage (big letters in the tops of posts) we had minimal trouble finding our way. It was also about here that the fog finally burned off and our beloved sunny weather returned,

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Sunshine!

and we got to climb some stairs, infrastructure you don’t often see on Western trails (unless the CCC had been there).

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Stair climbing for better health

We circled around the west side of Tetragouche Lake and made our way up Mount Baldy (or Mt. Ba_d_) for what we hoped was going to be a great view (and it was).

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Climbing Mt. Bad

We took time on the open, sun-drenched, and breezy (and hence cool and insect-free) summit for a snack and a look at the big view.

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Looking for landwarks from the summit of Mount Baldy

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Tetagouche Lake from the summit of Mount Baldy

Our route off the summit was via a hiking/skiing trail to Micmac Lake. It was uneventful except for one spot where the boardwalk was actually floating, not just anchored and almost submerged. A poke with my hiking pole revealed its buoyancy and prevented an unwanted swim; we were able to work our way around it on dry land.

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

The floating boardwalk

We continued on these hiking/skiing trails through Tettegouche Camp, a collection of cute cabins that were once part of a private club but are now rentable through the park.

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

A cabin at Tettegouche Camp

On our way to Nipisiquit Lake, we passed through sections of trail lined with reeds that were particularly attractive to dragonflies. Our passage would alarm them and we would then be enveloped in swirling clouds of dragonflies – amazing!

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Dragonflies along the trail

Up until now, the trails had curious way of avoiding the lakes and it was not until the last part of our hike that we actually got to the shore of first Micmac,

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

On the shores of Micmac Lake

and then Nipisiquit Lake.

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

On the shores of Nipisiquit Lake

After that, it was back in to the forest along more hiking/skiing trails to the trailhead. Except for the fog, we got just the hiking day we’d hoped for – big views, a summit, shoreline views of the lakes, and close-ups of some charming animals. The hike was 10 miles, with only 900 feet between its lowest and highest points. But there were a lot of ups and downs along the way, so we suspect (per our GPS) that our total elevation gain – parceled out over these undulations – was well north of 1,000 feet. Regardless of the numbers, it was a great hike and a great way to wrap-up our wonderful trip to Lake Superior’s North Shore!

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Our track of the Tettegouche Lakes Loop hike

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