Oberg Mountain Loop Hike, Minnesota

One of the things I love about the North Shore of Lake Superior, in Minnesota, is that there are LOTS of options for outdoor activities. Even if you only have a half day, there are a number of hikes that yield gorgeous trails, with panoramic views and overlooks.

I recently had the opportunity to solo hike the Oberg Mountain Loop . This trail is most famous for seeing incredible fall colors, and I was there the second week in October. Catching the North Shore fall color at its peak is a bit tricky, although most of what I read indicates that it happens between the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October. By my best estimation, I missed it by about a week, although the trees were still stunning.

Driving to Oberg Mountain is a piece of cake. Straight up Highway 61, past Tofte (where I always stop at Schroeder Baking Company for a maple-pecan turnover and a cup of coffee), and a left on Onion River Road.

The loop itself is approximately three miles around, with relatively flat trails once you get past the initial climb. There are several parts at the beginning that are a bit steep, but the trail is wide enough to step aside to catch your breath if needed. I recommend hiking boots with ankle support as the trails are rocky and uneven, and poles would be a good idea for anyone who needs the extra stability and security on the steeper parts. Of course, a day pack with hiking essentials is always a smart move, and you can find some of my hiking must-haves in Hike Like a Lady. Since I was solo hiking, I also brought a compass, First Aid kit, flashlight and extra snacks and water. Chances are, I’ll never need those items, but a wrong step or slippery edge and I could find myself in a pickle, alone, and with limited cell service.

The really great thing about Oberg Loop is that there are a number of beautiful overlooks to break up trail walking through the trees. Most don’t have rails, so keeping an eye on the edge is important. The wind can gust unexpectedly, so I didn’t venture too near the cliffs since I was by myself.

The trails themselves were incredibly beautiful as well, when I visited in mid-October. Lots of chipmunks and birds to see, and of course the leaves were showing off their beautiful golden, ruby and tangerine leaves.

One of the things I like to do on a solo hike is take time to sit quietly along the trail. I normally arrive early to beat the crowds, so the quiet and solitude are pretty magical. Chipmunks and birds venture out in the stillness, and I have an opportunity to notice beauty everywhere.

Spending a morning or afternoon exploring Oberg Mountain Loop Trail is well worth it. I plan to visit many more times over the coming months and years. I want to become deeply familiar with the trails, vistas and peaceful groves that this treasure of nature has to offer.

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