Before the Minnesota DNR changed their park reservation policy, from being able to reserve a site one year in advance to four months, I had made a reservation for the constantly booked Tettegouche State Park in 2020. I had to set a calendar reminder for myself the full year in advance and remember while booking the site that 1/2 of them already appeared to be reserved. Expect a lot of competition getting a site here, especially the cabins at Mic Mac Lake which are especially prized.
I was at the Baptism River campground, in walk in site 24. Both of the walk in sites have dedicated parking spots and a nearby outhouse at the parking area. Its a really short walk to both sites, not arduous in the least. You can pack like you’re car camping no problem.
I always walk around the campsites a couple of times because I like to see what sites look nice to book in the future, what sites are good for hammocks, and because I like looking at all of the different varieties of tents and campers. Most of the sites at the Baptism River camp are poor for hammock camping. I had a hell of a time finding sturdy trees to hang from, ultimately settling on two pines that were closer then I would have preferred. And I was lucky to even have those! Most of the other sites have pretty dense growths of pines and birch and you’d have a hard time finding a spot. Also most of the sites here are the older/smaller style sites. You basically have room to back in a camper, and have a picnic table and fire ring off to the side. The best sites appeared to be 28 and 29 which sit up a hill and are tucked into the woods a bit more.
The first day there I didnt do much besides struggle to get my hammock hung somewhere at the site. I was able to hike around the falls though. There is a sign warning you about the steep descent and amount of stairs up and down, but its well worth it.
You can click on any of these pictures to get a full size view.
After getting my camp setup and spending the evening hiking the falls I got up early to hike parts of the SHT and see the other parts of the park.
I started out by hiking on the paved road a bit from the campground up to the main trailhead. Its a pretty quick hike to Red Pine Knob and definitely worth the trip.
I had a hard time figuring out what the hell the Drainpipe was referring to. After looking around some though, it was the name of this steep rocky area that hikers had to crawl on their hands and knees to get up. The SHT eventually added some stairs around roughly 2018 to assist hikers up. Thus covering the Drainpipe. I didnt get any pictures because I didnt know what I was looking for. Here is a link though with some good before pictures.
Descending the drain pipe you go down and elevation into a fantastic cedar grove. Keep hiking and you’ll see a short spur trail to go to Raven Rock, which had some incredible views.
From Raven Rock you keep following the trail until you hit a split. To the south is Hawk Hill and Mt Trudee, to the west is Conservancy Pines. This part of the trail looked like it was rarely traveled, it was fairly overgrown. I hiked until I saw a sign for the pines and headed up hill a bit, until I got to a rocky area. It had some decent views down into Mic Mac lake, but while I was there it was raining fairly hard, and was overgrown so I couldnt see all that clearly. Also on the park maps it looks like the Conservancy Pines is right on the trail but it actually splits off. After looking around for about 20 minutes I headed back the way I came and noticed some decaying steps that appeared to point in the right direction. After hiking down it was clear I was on some sort of trail. This section definitely doesnt get much use, so pay attention to where you’re headed so you dont end up on some sort of game trail.
After going through another cool cedar grove you’ll eventually see the trail widen out a bit and open up into the Tettegouche Cabins area.
From the cabins I took the main trail to start hiking back towards the campground. As you hike along the bank of the lake you get some great views of the lakes.
I didnt take many pictures on the loop back, and thats because it wasnt that great of a hike! The trail is a mixed use hiking, and snowmobile trail. It got pretty muddy and mucky headed back and wasnt nearly as scenic. If I had to do it again, I would’ve just done an out and back and headed the same way back to the campground. Its just not that great of a hike, no views, no cedar groves, just a muddy trek back.
While I was up near Tettegouche I made another trip past Grand Marais to check out Eagle Mountain. The trail is in the BWCA so you have to get a day use permit at the trailhead. The day I went was apparently the same day there was a big gravel bike race going on. So I had to drive slowly around a lot of bikers to get there. Thankfully I got to the trailhead early, there was only one other car in the lot at the time.
The hike up to Eagle Mountain and back is roughly 7 miles round trip. Its not that hard of a hike, its a pretty gradual hike to the top until you get the last bit, which is fairly steep. Again not super difficult though. The hardest part of the hike is just watching your footing. Its a very rocky and rooty trail, so watch your steps.
You pass Whale Lake on the hike up, it looks incredible! Poking around online there is a BWCA campsite on the north side of the lake, just off of the Brule Lake trail. Will try to get a site there in the future.
Once you get to the top its a bit hard to find that plaque. Head up the rocky area towards the trees and you’ll soon see a path.
Other random notes from my trip:
- My first night hammock camping was cold! I had a 40F Arrowhead-Equipment underquilt, and the lows got down to a windy 35F. I ended up doing situps in the night in my hammock to keep warm and my abs were so sore it hurt to sneeze days later.
- I brought some Austintacious Tortilla Soup from PackIt Gourmet. It was actually pretty tasty! Would recommend it, but would cut down on the amount of water they call for a bit.
- I saw a huge Pileated Woodpecker near my campsite my second morning.
- I was so tired from my first night of cold sleeping and hiking. I ended up making some adjustments to my hammock the second night and slept 10 hours! I was super comfortable after adjusting the hammock suspension.
- Saw a Golden Wing Warbler for the first time. Checked another bird off of my life list.
- Stopped at Bettys Pies on the way home. The Great Lakes pie was fantastic.
- Ditched a titanium spork for an extra long wooden spoon. Weighed the same amount and worked WAY better to eat a meal out of the bag with. I also didnt have to worry about putting holes in my pack with the spork ends. Will be using that now moving forward.
- Ditched using stuff sacks for my quilts. Instead I just stuffed them in a trash bag and mushed them into the bottom of my pack. It took the shape of the pack and cushioned items I placed on top. I think this will be the way to pack moving forward. Can fit more in my pack this way, less noisy too.