Highpoint #8: Minnesota

When we left to visit Minnesota’s highest point, Eagle Mountain, we were a little worried about the forecast.  The weather was expected to be rain most of the weekend, but since a hotel was booked and we had the weekend free, we thought we would take a chance and try it.  Rain gear was packed just in case.

Eagle Mountain is located Northeast of Lutsen, Minnesota, about two hours out of Duluth, Minnesota.  At 2,301 feet (according to the plaque at the top), Eagle Mountain isn’t considered a very high highpoint.  It is known, however, for the strenuous hike to the top.  The hike ended up being approximately 7 miles round trip, and took a little over five hours to completed.  It was a LOT of hiking.

Lucky for us, there are numerous signs directing people as they take the long, long gravel roads farther and farther into the wilderness to get to the parking lot.

P1000055I believe we ended up driving about 17 miles on dirt roads, but when we arrived, there was a nice parking lot.

P1000054The picture of the parking lot above was taken after it started raining (more on that later).  The trail starts just to the right of the parking lot entrance.

P1000049There is a little box on the sign above which contains permits to enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  There are pencils next to the box, and there is no cost for a permit.  You simply fill it out and drop a copy into the box, then start your hike.

P1000014Along the way, you’ll cross about four “bridges” made of wood planks.  They cross the wet swamp or stream areas on the trail.  The trail is fairly rocky and full of tree roots, so we were glad to have good hiking shoes on that day.

P1000028I carried a backpack full of rain gear and our lunch.  We also had water bottles, and were very happy to have brought them since the hike is a long one, with a steep section near the end (the last half mile or so).

Along the way, you will officially enter the Boundary Waters.

P1000017Some of the views along the hike are incredible.  You are really in a beautiful part of the country, and truly in the wilderness.  Just make sure you take a break from looking at the rocks and tree roots as you walk to enjoy the scenery.

P1000025Once you reach the top, usually fully sweating by that time, you’ll see a plaque which marks the highest location in Minnesota.  Behind the plaque is the geological marker.

Since we made this hike with a family (including our daughter, age 5), we were passed by a number of people along the way.  Most were there to highpoint, but one group of about 10 people were there cutting logs off of the trail.  They carried saws and tree trimming equipment.

We reached the summit after a little over two hours of hiking.  We stayed for a short while for photographs, then turned around and started down.  We stopped at a nice scenic overlook to eat lunch.

P1000041Shortly after lunch, the rain started.  It rained the entire rest of the way down the mountain.  We quickly learned that we should have stopped at the first sign of rain and put on all of our rain gear.  It was a long way back down, and we were thoroughly soaked.

The rocks were slippery when wet, and the trail soon got muddy.  Our five-year-old daughter cried a little on the way down, mostly due to hunger and being tired.  We ended up carrying her for a little while, then she was fine.  She really held up well during this trip, and her small feet probably made it easier to step between all of the tree roots on the trail.

P1000038Once we were wet, we couldn’t get any wetter.  So we made the best of it, and finally made it back to the car.

Once we warmed up, we realized we had successfully completed a very strenuous hike!  We had finally made the Minnesota highpoint.  This was probably one of our more difficult highpoints to date, but also the most rewarding.

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