Last fall my husband and I hiked the Bean and Bear Lakes loop in Silver Bay, Minnesota. This was at the top of my bucket list for hikes in Minnesota and it did not disappoint! The Bean and Bear Lakes loop is a part of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), a 296-mile-long trail that reaches from Duluth to the Canadian Border. This is one of the more difficult sections of the hike, and one of the most beautiful sections as it offers amazing overlooks. It was beautiful to experience in the fall and I look forward to completing the hike in the spring and summer someday as well. In this post you will find all the information you need to plan this hike for yourself, as well as the story of our journey. I hope you enjoy!
Location: Just outside of Silver Bay, Minnesota – Parking can be found at the Penn Blvd. Trailhead
How to Get There: From Hwy 61 at mile post 54.3 take a left at the stoplight (towards Silver Bay) onto Outer Drive. Take outer drive for 1.5 miles, this will turn into Penn Blvd. Continue on Penn Blvd for a half a mile and turn when you see the trailhead on the right.
Distance: 6.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1600 Feet
Helpful Info: The Trail is also called the “Twin Lakes Trail” and there are bathrooms available at the trailhead.
We set up camp at the Department of Forestry Campground, in Finland, Minnesota for a long weekend full of hiking on the North Shore and had a great experience. It was quiet, there was plenty of privacy and it had the rustic appeal we always look for in a campground. There was no running water or electricity at the campground, so it was mostly tent campers. We had our tiny camper that uses solar power, so it was perfect for us. It also had a couple fun bars nearby in the town of Finland. We loved this spot and would camp here again.
We woke up early and watched an amazing sunrise at Palisade Head. Then we headed to Silver Bay to get coffee and start our hike. We were hoping to find a coffee shop but only found a gas station, so we sat down there and enjoyed a nice gas station breakfast while visiting with the friendly employees. We also asked for directions to the trailhead here, just to be safe and we found this helpful as it put us at ease. After this it was straight to the trailhead to get hiking.
The trailhead parking lot was relatively empty when we arrived, and the sun had just come up. It was a beautiful golden fall day. The signs were easy to follow and pointed us in the right direction to start our hike.
The beginning of the hike crossed over a couple dirt roads and was rocky and relatively flat. It is mostly through forest and it was immediately a beautiful hike. There was also A LOT of mud! The mud was difficult, but it was also totally doable.
Once the elevation started to raise we were happy to leave most of the mud behind. Coming to the first outlook was beautiful, we could see Lake Superior in the distance and the fall colors were amazing. It made us very excited for the more spectacular outlooks to come.
After a couple more miles of hiking we got our first glimpse of Bean lake and it was everything we hoped it would be! The dramatic cliffs were amazing, and the lake was a beautiful shade of blue against the colorful trees. We spent quite a bit of time just staring over the edge in awe!
We were excited to make it to the final view point where we knew we would have a great view of both lakes. This was AMAZING. Everything I had hoped it would be! We sat down and had a short picnic as we enjoyed the epic view. We had complete privacy while at all the viewpoints which was great.
After a short rest it was time to hit the trail back to camp. First, we signed into the notebook that is at the summit and looked through some of the other notes from hikers. We loved this. Then we headed back into the forest to complete the loop trail.
Again, we experienced mud, but it was a nice hike out that seemed much shorter than the way in. We did get slightly confused by the trail once, and the signs we came across we not extremely helpful as they were quite worn. Luckily, the trail is quite simple so while we questioned it, we were right on track and where we thought we should be.
We arrived back at our car feeling great and accomplished. My husband and I both loved this hike and would recommend it to anyone in or visiting the area. It is breathtaking and worth the climb!
Suggested Packing/Gear List:
Shoes you don’t mind getting muddy
Bug Spray (depending on time of year)
Map or Cell Phone with GPS
Suggested Camping in the Silver Bay Area:
Tettegouche State Park
Spilt Rock Lighthouse State Park
Department of Forestry Campground, Finland
Other Fun Hikes in the Area:
High Falls in Tettegouche State Park
Devil’s Kettle Falls in Judge CR Magney State Park
Sugar Loaf Cove Nature Center – Loop Trail
Palisade Head (I recommend this for sunrise)
I hope this post got you excited and motivated to get up to the North Shore to conquer this hike. You will not regret it! What are your favorite hikes in Minnesota? I am always searching for hikes to add to my Minnesota Bucket List. Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading! Also, click here if you are interested in learning to incorporate “living your yoga” into your hiking.
Much Love and Happy Travels,
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