Highest point in Minnesota
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Hiking the Highest Point in Minnesota: Eagle Mountain Minnesota

If you are looking for a bird’s eye view (pun intended) of all of Minnesota’s raw, natural splendor and beauty, then you need to hike the remote and secluded trek to the highest point in Minnesota!  Eagle Mountain, Minnesota, is the state high point, and is nestled in miles of untouched and pristine national forest, dotted with a multitude of ink blue northern lakes.  Some of the most characteristic hiking in Minnesota can be found here at Eagle Mountain!

 

How to hike Eagle Mountain Minnesota

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Eagle Mountain Minnesota

 

The Eagle Mountain Trail is stellar on its own, but when you combine it with the incredible beauty of the surrounding Superior National Forest, the generous amount of humble and serene bodies of water, and the nearby rugged coastline of Lake Superior, the pursuit of this state high point hike is all the more worthwhile, and weaves together a harmonious tapestry of the whole region, all in Eagle Mountain’s 6 miles!

 

This guide will cover:

  • the location of Eagle Mountain
  • quick facts
  • what to know before you go
  • a full trail report
  • recommended gear
  • additional sights and outdoor activities nearby

 

Highest point in MinnesotaThe highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain!

 

Location of the Highest Point in Minnesota

 

The Eagle Mountain Trail is located in Superior National Forest, in far northern Minnesota.  Actually, it is not far at all from the Canadian border!  There are no big cities nearby, just a welcome smattering of quaint coastline towns.  If you are driving to Eagle Mountain, Minnesota, I highly recommend driving up Highway 61 along the coast of Lake Superior!

 

 

Hiking Eagle Mountain Minnesota

 

The Eagle Mountain hike is a lovely combination of the best qualities of hiking in Minnesota and this region.  There is forest, lakes, and peaceful solitude.  Well worth spending a day here, and a very worthwhile and engaging state high point hike to take on!  Below are some quick facts and things you should know before you go!

 

Beautiful tree canopies lining the Eagle Mountain Trail
Beautiful tree canopies lining the Eagle Mountain Trail

 

 

Quick Facts on Eagle Mountain Minnesota

 

 

Length: 6.3 miles roundtrip point to point (out and back)

Elevation: 2,300 feet

Elevation Gain: 646 feet

Eagle Mountain Trail Elevation Chart
Eagle Mountain Trail Elevation Chart

 

Rating: Moderate – as you can tell by the elevation chart above, the Eagle Mountain Trail contains very little significant sections of elevation gain, until right before the turn around point (the summit).  The this elevation gain coupled with 6 total miles is what makes it rate as moderate.  

Dog Friendly: Yes – leashed

Estimated Time to Complete: 2-3 hours

Best Time of Year to Hike: Spring to Early Fall

Fees: It is FREE to hike Eagle Mountain

Parking/Facilities:  There is a small parking area, with a bathroom

Additional Tips:  In the summer in particular, the mosquitos here are NOTORIOUS!  Bring bug spray!!!

 

Eagle Mountain is a very doable day hike.  There are sections of largely gentle uphill grade, and sections of brief increased grade, but nothing overly strenuous.  You will not encounter any technical aspects or any sections requiring more than your basic hiking essentials.  Anyone that has experience doing 5+ mile type hikes, should have little problem with this trail.  

 

The Eagle Mountain Trail is located within Superior National Forest.  You will follow maintained forest roads until you reach the trailhead for Eagle Mountain.  There is a parking area at the trailhead, with plenty of availability, and a restroom.  There is no fee to park or enter.  

 

The Eagle Mountain Trail is almost entirely under forest canopy, with the exception of two spots – Whale Lake and the summit.   And even those receive some dappled sun mixed in with shade.  In the summer, all that canopy can create a bit of a humid environment, so come prepared with the right moisture wicking and breathable clothing!  And BRING BUG SPRAY!  The bugs here are among the most persistent I have encountered on any trail. 

 

The beginning of the trail to Eagle Mountain Minnesota
The beginning of the trail to Eagle Mountain Minnesota

 

The trailhead begins immediately within dense forest cover and a gentle uphill grade.  Truthfully, when you spread out the elevation gain over the entire hike, you realize that for the large majority of this hike, you may barely even notice any uphill climb.  There are really only a few brief stints of noticeable climb (after passing the shoreline of Whale Lake).  Overall, the majority is a very gentle state high point hike, and is mostly rated moderate due to the 6 mile roundtrip length.  

 

When I hiked Eagle Mountain, I encountered very few other hikers.  This trail is drenched in silence and solitude for the most part, and that was quite a welcoming aspect!  Along the way to the summit, one of the main highlights you will pass is the small mountain lake called Whale Lake on your right, as you hike in.  It is the perfect place to stop and take a breather and take in the piercing blue reflection of Minnesota sky on the calm and still surface!

 

Stopping for a breather at Whale Lake
Stopping for a breather with the pup at Whale Lake

 

After passing Whale Lake on the right side of the trail, you will encounter the majority of the elevation gain as you climb towards the summit.  The grade here increases and it does become more rocky, but nothing technical.  This will, however, be the hardest part of the hike. 

 

As you continue through dense forest on the way up, you may start wondering to yourself if there really are going to be summit views through all this foliage, but don’t worry, there are!

 

The summit sort of sneaks up on you here at Eagle Mountain!  There is a first overlook after the climb up, but that is not the official high point.  You must pass the first overlook and opening and continue on briefly to the actual summit, where there is another opening in the treeline and stunning overlook views of large swaths of emerald forest, interrupted by several lakes.  

 

Eagle Mountain Minnesota is point to point trail, better known as an out and back trail, so you will return down the same way you came up. 

 

The summit of the highest point in Minnesota
The summit of the highest point in Minnesota!

 

 

Know Before You Go

 

There are a couple helpful things to know about hiking the highest point in Minnesota.

 

  • there is a parking area, and there is plenty of parking available.
  • there is a bathroom facility at the trailhead and parking area
  • there is no fee to park or enter
  • you probably won’t have cell service, so download your digital maps before you go
  • the trail is well maintained and easy to follow
  • the bugs are out of control here – apply bug spray before starting, and bring more along with you in case you need to reapply!

 

 

What Else to Do Near Eagle Mountain Minnesota

 

Minnesota is a haven for the outdoor lovers!  After enjoying some of the best hiking in Minnesota at the highest point in Minnesota, check out some of these other awesome add-ons in this beautiful state!

 

Voyageurs National Park

 

Voyageurs National Park is a standout of outdoor opportunities in Minnesota!  Only a couple hours away from Eagle Mountain, Minnesota. 

 

Isle Royale National Park

 

Isle Royale National Park looks fairly close to Eagle Mountain, Minnesota, but you have to consider that it is necessary to go around the circumference of Lake Superior in order to reach it in Michigan, making it about a full days drive away from Eagle Mountain.  Still, if exploring Lake Superior is on your to do list (and it rightfully should be), then there is no more unique way to experience it than from this “island” National Park!

 

Check off more National Parks from your own checklist!

 

Road Trip Up Highway 61

 

I’ve done a lot of driving and road tripping in my pursuit of hiking all 50 state high points in the US, and this stretch of highway rivals any other scenic drive I’ve experienced in the country, and sits rightfully so near the top of my list.  And I’ve been to all 50 states!  Driving up Highway 61, you literally hug the coastline of Lake Superior for hours, feeling as if you can stretch your hand out the passenger window and literally touch the water!  

 

This stretch is dotted with rocky ledges and coastline, lighthouses, rugged beaches, state parks, quaint beach towns, and towering forest.  All while not feeling overcrowded, pretentious, sold out, or changed.  

 

Some of the rugged coastline of Lake Superior off Highway 61 in Lutsen, Minnesota
Some of the rugged coastline of Lake Superior off Highway 61 in Lutsen, Minnesota

 

 

Go to the Beaches

 

Speaking of Highway 61, there are a TON of places to stop and explore the beaches, whether it is a short stop or a long weekend stayover.  Lake Superior’s coastline is one of a kind!

 

Other Nearby Hiking in Minnesota

 

The Superior Hiking Trail plots along the scenic coastline area of Lake Superior, in the same northern region of Minnesota as Eagle Mountain.  This is just one of many, many, coastline hiking trails in Minnesota off of Lake Superior.  There are a plethora of state parks off of Highway 61 that house many awesome trails!

 

What You Need to Hike the Highest Point in Minnesota

 

There are several hiking essentials you should plan to take with you when you hike Eagle Mountain, Minnesota.

 

 

 

  • breathable, moisture wicking socks!  Your feet perform only as well as you take care of them!  Wearing the right performance socks is one of the best things you can do to prevent blisters and therefore have a comfortable and successful hike!

 

 

  • bug spray!

 

 

So there’s the lowdown on what to expect when you hike the highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain Minnesota!  Does this hike make you curious about other state high point hikes across the country?  Maybe even your own state?

 

You Can Check Out All 50 State High Points in the U.S. Here!

 

 

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Eagle Mountain Minnesota

 

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One Comment

  1. I’ve hiked Eagle Mountain a couple of times and enjoyed reliving it a bit with your commentary. I have one large correction to make of your mention of Isle Royale National Park. It is part of Michigan though Minnesotans can’t figure out why. It is much, much closer to MN than to MI. and the boat ride to the Island park is shorter and less expensive from MN. Just continue along the shore on Hwy 61 till you get to Grand Portage. It’s only 35 miles past Grand Marais. Way less time than 7 hours to Michigan.