The Superior Hiking Trail Story

Book Review:
The Superior Hiking Trail Story, by Rudi Hargesheimer (2020)

Oberg Lake from Oberg Mountain, photo courtesy Rudi Hargesheimer

“Oh look, we’re on the Superior Hiking Trail!” we exclaimed, happening upon a trail marker. “I wonder how much of the trail we’ve already hiked?” More questions unravel while we pause at an overlook, how long is the trail? How did it come to be?

If you’ve had your feet on part of the 310 miles of Superior Hiking Trail, you’ve been amongst thousands of people each year, including casual dayhikers, multi-day adventurers, trail-runners and backpackers. The trail as we know it was established as recently as 1986, and Rudi Hargesheimer was there. He’s a passionate advocate and volunteer, and shares his photographs and insights in The Superior Hiking Trail Story.

To inspire an adventure

Part coffee-table book, part scrapbook, part trail guide; beautiful photography and candid snapshots are blended with trail wisdom. The author brings his history of hiking and volunteering, and combines them with voices from the many ‘trail register’ notebooks that are mounted to posts along the hikes. For years Rudi gathered notes and quotes from these visitors and they were a major inspiration for the book.

Fragments of poetry, personal reflections, stories of small challenges and major accomplishments, we glimpse Minnesota’s northern forests through each hiker’s eyes, in all seasons and all weather. There are stories of being humbled by nature, physically challenged, of being awed by an unexpected moment, a moose encounter, a bird sighting…

“You definitely feel the solitude when walking a secluded trail in a downpour. If your solitude is oppressive, you may not emerge from your insanity. I was fortunate. Before the rain, I ate blueberries and looked down through the vista one mile west of here. I heard, then saw, two moose splashing in a curl of river far below.” – JM

“We hiked all the way to the crest
Aching legs begging for rest
But the air is so clean
And the lake so smooth
Our legs kept going–move, move, move”
– Anonymous

Rudi is inspired by such sentiments from hikers, he writes: “More than once as I read one of those quoted gems I thought, ‘Hey, I have a photograph of that sentiment.’ Someone wrote about what I had seen through the lens of a camera.” The photographs document each place, some familiar, some surprising.

Following the maps

The book begins near Duluth and takes us north to the Canadian border. Part of what makes the Superior Hiking Trail so usable is the Superior Hiking Trail Association’s emphasis on functional maps, and this book likewise includes maps meant for general orientation and inspiration. The maps are artfully done and dovetail with the Association’s more detailed map collections intended for trip planning.

Perhaps you or someone you know has hiked the entire trail. Perhaps you’ve just scraped the surface and this is on your life list. The Superior Hiking Trail Story is approachable and engaging for trail newbies and seasoned thru-hikers alike. Rudi is on a mission to share his deep knowledge and love of this place, to inspire us, to visit, to know the Superior Hiking Trail, and to pass the passion along.

“From no Trail at all in 1986 to 310 miles in length now; this is the story of the “second best long trail in the nation” told with tales from volunteers, original trail blazers and dreamers of grandeur. Hikers’ “Sentiments from the Heart” quotes and photos by Rudi Hargesheimer, a former Superior Hiking Trail Association Board President, fill the pages with beauty. The stories include triumphs and failures – many of which are unknown to today’s hikers.” – superiorhiking.org


Find the book at Superior Hiking Trail Association here >

Star Tribune: Minnesota man’s new book celebrates the rugged beauty of Superior Hiking Trail

Northern Wilds: The Superior Hiking Trail Lives Up to Its Name

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