Backpacking in Minnesota: Explore the Wilderness Wonders

Backpacking in minnesota

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Backpacking in Minnesota is a dream come true! Minnesota is a state known for its vast natural beauty, offering a plethora of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Among the most exciting ways to explore Minnesota’s wilderness wonders is backpacking

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced backpacker, the state offers a range of trails and state parks to suit every skill level and interest. One of the most popular backpacking trails in Minnesota is the Superior Hiking Trail

This 310-mile long trail runs along the ridgeline above Lake Superior, offering breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding forest. 

It is ideal for beginner backpacking trips, with access to campsites and parking areas along the trail.

Minnesota state parks also offer a myriad of backpacking opportunities, with over 60 state parks to choose from. 

Some of the most popular state parks for backpacking include Itasca State Park, Wild River State Park, and Tettegouche State Park

Each park features a unique landscape, from tranquil lakes to rugged river valleys and stunning waterfalls.

Cycling Backpack

Backpacking in Minnesota

Explore Minnesota’s breathtaking wilderness while backpacking. 

Traverse the Superior Hiking Trail for stunning vistas of Lake Superior or immerse yourself in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for a serene canoeing and camping experience. 

Discover the North Shore’s waterfalls, including the iconic Gooseberry Falls. Embrace the diverse landscapes, from dense forests to rolling hills. 

Encounter abundant wildlife and savor the tranquility of pristine lakes. Don’t miss the rugged beauty of the Sawtooth Mountains in Tettegouche State Park. 

With countless trails and outdoor adventures, Minnesota offers an unforgettable backpacking experience in the heart of nature.

Key Takeaways

  • Minnesota offers a range of backpacking trails and state parks for all skill levels and interests.
  • The Superior Hiking Trail is one of the most popular backpacking trails in Minnesota, with access to campsites and parking areas.
  • Minnesota state parks offer a unique landscape, from tranquil lakes to rugged river valleys and stunning waterfalls.
  • Some of the most popular state parks for backpacking include Itasca State Park, Wild River State Park, and Tettegouche State Park.
  • Whether you’re a beginner or experienced backpacker, Minnesota has something to offer for every type of adventurer.

Discover the Superior Hiking Trail

backpack camping Minnesota

Minnesota offers an abundance of outdoor adventure, from hiking to camping and backpacking

The state is home to many beautiful trails, parks, and stunning landscapes. The Superior Hiking Trail is one such destination that backpackers should not miss. 

It is a popular destination for backpackers due to its many breathtaking sceneries and excellent facilities.

The Superior Hiking Trail boasts over 300 miles of well-maintained trails that wind their way through some of the most scenic areas in Minnesota. 

The trail is split into many different sections, each with its own unique flavor and scenic beauty. Hikers have access to a wide range of trail maps, making it easy to plan their backpacking trip. 

Detailed information on driving directions and trailheads is also available, ensuring easy access to the trail.

Backpack camping is also available on the Superior Hiking Trail. This means that backpackers can hike through the day and camp at designated sites at night. 

These sites are located at convenient distances along the way, making it easy to plan daily hikes

There are also many State Park campgrounds available along the way, providing ample opportunities for backpackers to rest and recharge before continuing their journey.

Trail InformationFacilities
Miles: 300+Backpack Camping
Difficulty: Easy to DifficultState Park Campgrounds
Maps: Available OnlineTrail Maps
Trailheads: Easily AccessibleDriving Directions

Minnesota is known for its state parks, and the Superior Hiking Trail is no exception. The trail is home to a multitude of state parks offering recreational activities such as camping, hiking, and fishing. 

In addition, there are several parks along the way that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. These parks are perfect for backpackers looking for an all-in-one outdoor experience.

  • Minnesota State Parks and Trails
  • Superior National Forest
  • Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
  • Gooseberry Falls State Park

Backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail and other trails in Minnesota is a great way to explore the state’s natural beauty and stunning landscapes, without compromising on comfort and safety. 

The state offers a range of well-maintained trails, state parks, and camping facilities, ensuring a great backpacking experience. 

Ready to plan your next backpacking trip in Minnesota

Check out the maps, driving directions, and trail information on the Superior Hiking Trail and get ready to explore one of the most beautiful places in the United States.

Exploring Minnesota State Parks

backpacking gear in Minnesota state park

Minnesota state parks offer some of the best camping and backpacking experiences in the region. 

Backcountry backpacking trips are available in several state parks, including the renowned Superior Hiking Trail, which runs 310 miles from Duluth to the Canadian border.

State parks also offer a variety of backpack camping options, including drive-in sites and hike-in sites. 

Hike-in sites range from half a mile to over ten miles from the trailhead, allowing backpackers to choose their desired level of seclusion and immersion in nature.

Visitors should be prepared for a range of terrain and elevation gain on state park trails, from flat prairies to rugged, rocky ridges. 

It’s vital to pack appropriately for a backpacking trip, and visitors should have the necessary gear, including a well-fitting backpack, sturdy hiking boots, and proper camping equipment.

Minnesota state parks offer a plethora of hiking trails, ranging in length and difficulty. Some popular hiking trails include:

  • The North Shore State Trail, which offers stunning views of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains.
  • The Eagle Mountain Trail, which leads to Minnesota’s highest point, at 2,301 feet above sea level.
  • The Itasca State Park trail system, which includes over 30 miles of hiking trails through old-growth pine forests and around lakes.

Backpacking Gear and Luggage

It’s essential to pack light for a backpacking trip and bring only the necessary items. A well-fitting backpack is crucial, as is a sleeping bag, tent, stove, and water purification system. 

Hikers should also bring appropriate clothing for the weather, including rain gear, and sturdy hiking boots. Backpackers should also be mindful of their waste and pack out all trash and disposable items. 

Littering and disposing of waste improperly can harm the environment and have negative effects on wildlife.

Overall, Minnesota state parks offer a wide range of backpacking experiences for all skill levels. Proper planning and preparation are key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable trip.

Planning Your Backpacking Adventure

Popular Elevation Gain

Planning a backpacking trip in Minnesota requires careful consideration of several factors, including the trip duration, natural resources, and popular hiking trails. 

Here are some essential tips to ensure a successful and safe backpacking adventure in Minnesota:

  • Decide on the trip duration: Depending on your experience level, you may want to start with shorter trips that last a few days. As you gain more experience, you can gradually increase the duration of your trips.
  • Explore Minnesota’s natural resources: Minnesota is known for its beautiful forests, sparkling lakes, and winding rivers.Be sure to research the specific natural resources of the region you plan to explore, and learn about the local flora and fauna. 
  • It is essential to respect the environment to preserve it for future generations.
  • Research river trails: Minnesota has several river trails that offer breathtaking scenery and unique challenges. Check the water levels, and research any rapids or waterfalls that may pose a risk.
  • Study trail maps: Many state parks and backpacking trails in Minnesota have trail maps available online.Familiarize yourself with the trail, the terrain, and the elevation gain to ensure you are adequately prepared for the trip.
  • Consider popular hiking trails: Some of the most popular hiking trails in Minnesota include the Superior Hiking Trail, the Border Route Trail, and the Kekekabic Trail. Research these trails to determine if they are a suitable fit for your experience level and trip goals.

When planning your backpacking adventure, it is essential to consider the weight of your backpack and pack efficiently.

Overpacking can lead to unnecessary aches and pains and can slow down your pace. It is recommended to keep your base weight under 20% of your total body weight. 

Don’t forget to bring essential items such as a map and compass, first aid kit, and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.

Best Backpacking Routes in Minnesota

backpacking in Minnesota

For those looking for the best backpacking sites in Minnesota, there are many options to choose from. 

AllTrails, a popular hiking app, lists over 200 backpacking trails in the state, each with unique terrain and breathtaking views. 

Many of these trails feature campsites, making it easy for backpackers to plan multi-day trips.

One of the most popular backpacking routes in Minnesota is the Superior Hiking Trail, which stretches for 310 miles along Lake Superior’s North Shore. 

Backpackers can experience stunning waterfalls, rocky cliffs, and dense forests as they hike through the trail’s rugged terrain. 

The trail offers campsites and backcountry shelters at regular intervals, providing ample opportunities for rest and relaxation.

Superior Hiking TrailNorth Shore of Lake SuperiorMultiple4.8/5
Kekekabic TrailBoundary Waters Canoe Area WildernessBackcountry camping only4.5/5
Superior National ForestNortheastern MinnesotaMultiple4.6/5

The Kekekabic Trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is another popular backpacking route, offering a more secluded and challenging experience. 

Backpackers can expect to traverse rugged terrain, portage over lakes, and encounter abundant wildlife.

For those seeking a more leisurely backpacking experience, state parks in Minnesota offer several backpacking sites. 

The Minnesota State Parks system has over 100 miles of backpacking trails, with designated campsites along the way. 

These campsites often feature fire pits, picnic tables, and other amenities to make the trip more enjoyable. Reviews on AllTrails can also be a valuable resource for those planning a backpacking trip. 

Backpackers can read about others’ experiences on various trails, helping them to choose the best backpacking sites in Minnesota.

Overall, Minnesota offers a wealth of backpacking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. 

From the rugged terrain of the Superior Hiking Trail to the more leisurely state park trails, there is no shortage of breathtaking scenery to explore on a backpacking trip in Minnesota.

Backpacking in Different Regions of Minnesota

Backpacking in different regions of Minnesota

Minnesota provides a diverse range of backpacking opportunities across various regions. From the rugged terrain of the northwest to the rolling hills of the southeast, backpackers can discover the natural beauty of the state.

Backpacking in Western Minnesota

Western Minnesota offers backpackers unique landscapes to explore. 

The North Country National Scenic Trail is a popular route that takes hikers through the headwaters of the Mississippi River, prairies, and hardwood forests. 

Another favorite is the Chippewa National Forest, known for its lakes, hills, and wildlife.

Best Winter Backpacking in Minnesota

Winter backpacking in Minnesota requires proper planning and equipment. 

The North Shore of Lake Superior offers winter backpacking opportunities, with the Superior Hiking Trail being a popular choice. 

Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, accessible by ferry from the Twin Ports, is also a top winter backpacking destination.

Backpacking Trails in Southern Minnesota

Southern Minnesota is home to several state parks with backpacking trails, including Frontenac State Park, which offers stunning views of Lake Pepin. 

The Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is another popular backpacking route, stretching over 39 miles from Mankato to Faribault.

Best Backpacking Places in Minnesota

Minnesota is dotted with numerous state parks and designated wilderness areas ideal for backpacking. 

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a must-visit for any backpacker, with over 1 million acres of pristine wilderness. 

Another popular destination is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, located on the shores of Lake Superior.

Best Backpacking Loops in Minnesota

Backpacking loops offer a unique experience for backpackers, allowing them to complete a circular route and see different scenery along the way. 

The Border Route Trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a 65-mile loop that takes hikers through dense forests and along scenic ridgelines. 

The Superior Hiking Trail also has several backpacking loops, including the 27-mile Bear Lake Loop and the 19-mile Silver Bay Loop.

Backpacking Trails in Northern Minnesota

Northern Minnesota is a backpacker’s paradise, with an abundance of trails to choose from. The Superior Hiking Trail runs 310 miles along the north shore of Lake Superior, offering some of the most scenic views in the state. 

The Kekekabic Trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is another popular option, with challenging terrain and beautiful scenery.

Minnesota’s vast wilderness areas and state parks provide endless opportunities for backpacking adventures

Backpackers should always be prepared for changing weather conditions and follow Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment.

Backpacking Near Minneapolis

backpacking near minneapolis

If you’re looking for the best places to go backpacking in southern Minnesota, you’re in luck! Minnesota offers amazing backpacking trails for outdoor enthusiasts, and many of them are just a short drive from Minneapolis.

For the best backpacking in southern Minnesota, check out some of the following spots:

  • Whitewater State Park: With over 2,700 acres of rugged wilderness, Whitewater State Park is an excellent place for backpackers of all levels. 
  • The park features several backpacking trails, including the 2.1-mile Dakota Trail and the 4.3-mile Chimney Rock Trail.
  • Frontenac State Park: With panoramic views of the Mississippi River, Frontenac State Park is a backpacker’s paradise. 
  • The park offers several trails of varying difficulty, including the 3.5-mile Prairie Trail and the 5.4-mile Summit Trail.
  • Wild River State Park: Located on the banks of the St. Croix River, Wild River State Park is a great place for backpacking and camping. The park has several backpacking trails, including the 4.5-mile Brown’s Creek Trail and the 5.3-mile River Trail.

If you’re interested in Minnesota backpacking trips, consider embarking on the Superior Hiking Trail. 

This trail is a must for any serious backpacker, with over 300 miles of breathtaking scenery along Lake Superior’s North Shore.

The best backpacking trail in Minnesota may be a matter of personal preference, but the Superior Hiking Trail is definitely a top contender.

“I hiked the Superior Hiking Trail a few years ago, and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The trail is challenging, but the views are absolutely worth it.” – John, avid backpacker

Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or just starting out, Minnesota has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast. So grab your backpack and hit the trails!

Backpacking Tips and Safety

hiking in Minnesota near Minneapolis

Backpacking near Minneapolis offers outdoor enthusiasts a variety of opportunities for exploration and adventure. 

However, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some helpful tips and safety guidelines:

Backpacking groups near me

Joining a backpacking group can provide a sense of community and safety when exploring new areas. 

Look for groups in your local area or online to connect with other backpackers and plan trips together.

Hike-in camping Minnesota

Hike-in camping is a popular option for backpackers in Minnesota. However, it’s important to research and reserve campsites in advance, as they can fill up quickly. 

Be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and properly dispose of waste.

Hiking in central Minnesota

Central Minnesota offers a variety of hiking trails and state parks to explore. Some popular destinations include Itasca State Park and the Lake Wobegon Trail. 

Be sure to bring appropriate gear, such as sturdy hiking boots and a map or compass.

Can you camp anywhere in Minnesota?

No, camping is only allowed in designated campsites in Minnesota state parks and forests. It’s important to follow all regulations and guidelines to protect the environment and ensure a safe experience for all visitors.

Life expectancy in Minnesota

Minnesota has one of the highest life expectancies in the United States, ranking second in 2020 with an average life expectancy of 79.7 years.

By following these tips and safety guidelines, backpackers can enjoy a safe and rewarding experience in Minnesota’s beautiful outdoors.

Outdoor Adventure in Minnesota

Minnesota Backpacking

Minnesota is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with its vast wilderness and diverse terrain providing endless opportunities for adventure. 

From hiking in Duluth to backpacking loops in the North Woods, there is something for everyone in this beautiful state. 

Here are some of the best ways to explore the great outdoors in Minnesota:

Hiking in Duluth Minnesota

Duluth, a port city on Lake Superior, boasts some of the best hiking trails in the state. 

Visitors can explore the rugged coastline along the Superior Hiking Trail, which offers stunning views of the lake and access to secluded beaches

The Magney-Snively trail is another popular hiking destination, with its steep cliffs and waterfalls attracting visitors from around the world.

Minnesota Backpacking Trails

Minnesota is home to a wide range of backpacking trails, with options for hikers of all skill levels. The Superior Hiking Trail, which spans over 300 miles, is one of the most popular trails in the state. 

Other notable options include the Border Route Trail, the Kekekabic Trail, and the North Country Trail.

Backpacking Loops Minnesota

Backpacking loops are a great way to experience the beauty of Minnesota’s wilderness while challenging yourself to a multi-day hike. 

The Border Route Trail loop in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a top choice for backpackers, offering stunning views of the rugged landscape and numerous lakes for swimming and fishing. 

Other popular backpacking loops include the Isle Royale loop and the SHT loop.

Backpacking Lakes Minnesota

Minnesota is home to thousands of lakes, making it a popular destination for backpackers who enjoy fishing and swimming. 

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a top choice for backpackers looking to explore Minnesota’s pristine lakes, with hundreds of remote campsites accessible only by water. 

Other popular destinations for backpacking near lakes include Voyageurs National Park and the Chippewa National Forest.

Hiking in Minnesota Near Minneapolis

Minneapolis may be a bustling city, but it’s also an excellent base for exploring the great outdoors. 

Hikers can venture out to nearby state parks, such as Afton State Park and Wild River State Park, which offer scenic hiking trails and campsites for backpackers. 

The Minnesota Valley State Trail is another popular destination, with over 27 miles of trails winding through the scenic Minnesota River Valley.

Cost of Living in Montana vs Minnesota

While Montana and Minnesota have a lot in common when it comes to their natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, there are some significant differences in their cost of living. 

According to recent data, the cost of living in Montana is slightly lower than in Minnesota, with lower prices for housing, groceries, and utilities. 

However, Minnesota has a stronger job market and a more significant tech industry, making it a popular choice for young professionals.


Minnesota is a paradise for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. 

With its diverse landscape, plethora of state parks, and numerous hiking trails, the state offers a plethora of options for wilderness backpacking, hiking, and camping.

Whether it’s hiking in northern Minnesota or exploring the newest city in the state, there is always something to discover. 

Hiking in Minnesota state parks is a great way to experience the beauty of the state’s natural surroundings, while backpacking in MN state parks is the perfect opportunity to explore the wilderness.

Minnesota also boasts numerous backpacking trails and trips that cater to all skill levels and preferences. 

From the best hiking in Minnesota Twin Cities to backpacking trails in Minnesota, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Before embarking on any backpacking or wilderness adventure, it’s essential to pack the right gear and understand the safety tips for backpacking in Minnesota

Exploring the North Woods and Minnesota wilderness is an unforgettable experience, but it can also be dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely hike or an adrenaline-pumping backpacking adventure, Minnesota has something for everyone. 

So gear up, pack your backpacking essentials, and hit the scenic trails to explore the breathtaking beauty of this iconic state.


  1. What are some popular backpacking trails in Minnesota?

    Some popular backpacking trails in Minnesota include the Superior Hiking Trail, the Minnesota River Valley Trail, and the Border Route Trail.

  2. What are some popular backpacking trails in Minnesota?

    Yes, many Minnesota state parks offer designated backpack camping areas where you can set up your tent and spend the night.

  3. What should I pack for a backpacking trip in Minnesota?

    Essential items to pack for a backpacking trip in Minnesota include a sturdy backpack, a tent, a sleeping bag, a stove for cooking, water purification supplies, appropriate clothing, and a map and compass.

  4. Are there backpacking routes suitable for beginners in Minnesota?

    Yes, there are several backpacking routes in Minnesota that are suitable for beginners, such as the Superior Hiking Trail’s southern sections and the hiking trails in Itasca State Park.

  5. Can I go backpacking in Minnesota during the winter?

    Yes, winter backpacking is possible in Minnesota. However, it’s important to be well-prepared for the cold temperatures and snowy conditions. It’s recommended to have proper winter gear and experience in cold weather camping.

  6. Are there backpacking opportunities near Minneapolis?

    Yes, there are several backpacking opportunities near Minneapolis, including trails in the southern part of the state and within reach of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

  7. What are some important safety tips for backpacking in Minnesota?

    Important safety tips for backpacking in Minnesota include informing someone about your trip plans, carrying a first aid kit, being aware of weather conditions, staying hydrated, and practicing Leave No Trace principles.

  8. Where can I find more information about backpacking in Minnesota?

    For more information about backpacking in Minnesota, you can visit the official websites of Minnesota state parks, hiking and backpacking forums, and outdoor adventure websites that feature information and reviews from experienced backpackers.

  9. Are there any restrictions or regulations for backpacking in Minnesota?

    Yes, there may be restrictions or regulations for backpacking in certain areas of Minnesota. It’s important to check with the specific park or trail you plan to visit for any permits, camping restrictions, or other regulations.

  10. What are some of the best backpacking routes in Minnesota?

    Some of the best backpacking routes in Minnesota include the Superior Hiking Trail, the Kekekabic Trail, the Border Route Trail, and the North Country Trail.

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