Before they’re covered with snow, the hills of Lutsen are covered with colorful leaves, and migrating birds pass by overhead. If you are staying at Caribou Highlands, you can see plenty of colorful leaves right around the resort. But, if you would like to be even more immersed in the fall scenery, we have a few hikes we can recommend.

The best hikes are along the Superior Hiking Trail. This trail follows a ridgeline which is mostly in the “northern hardwood-conifer” vegetation zone according to regional experts Chel Anderson and Adelheid Fischer. This ridge is rugged country, with a heavy concentration of maples and other colorful trees.

Within Walking Distance

Hiking east or west from the Poplar River Trailhead is a great way to see the trees and doesn’t even require getting in your car. You just start walking up the hill from Caribou Highlands until the road ends and the trail begins.

Just decide how far you want to hike, head about half that distance either east or west, and then turn around. Both ways have a great concentration of trees, with somewhat different topography.

The eastern direction involves less climbing than the western path and more views of the Poplar River. The path goes close to the river and at times goes above it. It is more of an inland experience, where you often might forget you are so close to Lake Superior.

The western path involves more climbing, but has more spectacular views of Lake Superior. This would be a good place to take a picture of the orange, yellow, and red hills sloping down to the lake, with the blue lake in the background.

If you hike left you can also go about 3.5 miles and take the tram back to the lodge, after enjoying a great view from the top of Moose Mountain. You could also do this course in reverse.

A Short Drive Away

There are many other trailheads you can go to from the lodge, but we will mention a few close ones here. One of the closer ones is the Oberg Mountain Loop.

The trailhead to this loop is about a 10-minute drive from the lodge. The hike up to the peak is a workout, but is well worth it. At the top, you’ll find a spectacular view of the big lake, an inland lake, and several prominent peaks.

The Britton Peak Trailhead is a 20-minute drive from Caribou Highlands. Although a natural feature called “Britton Peak” does not seem to exist on any map we have found, the Britton Peak Trailhead gives you easy access to two peaks high in this zone of fiery trees. The first one, presumably Britton Peak, is right by the parking lot. From the top, you can see a spectacular view of the landscape and the larger and more famous Carlton Peak, which is a 1.5 mile hike from the trailhead.

George H. Crosby Manitou State Park is one of the hidden area gems when it comes to state parks and also fall color hikes. If you park at the Superior Hiking Trail trailhead by Benson Lake you are right in the heart of the land of the maples. From here you can hike east along the ridge that the Superior Hiking Trail is known for and also along the valley of the Manitou River. Here you can enjoy looking down at the rapids surrounded by all these bright colors.