Hike & Go Seek – Gandy Dancer Trail


 The Gandy Dancer State Trail is a 98 mile recreational trail spanning through Wisconsin and Minnesota. The trail is managed by Polk, Burnett, and Douglas County in Wisconsin and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota.  

The trail follows the old Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railroad grade from St. Croix Falls to Superior. The trail is divided up into a north and south segment with the southern segment accounting for 47 miles all in Wisconsin and the northern segment accounting for 51 miles in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The Ice Age Trail follows the Gandy Dancer State Trail for 19 miles from St. Croix Falls past the town of Luck.      


A gandy dancer was a slang term used for American railroad workers that would build and maintain tracks by hand. The term likely originated from the Gandy Manufacturing Company based in Chicago which produced railroad tools. These workers were known to sing and keep their voices and feet in unison which led to them being described as dancers. In 1990 a naming contest was held for the naming of the trail. The name Gandy Dancer was chosen to honor the railroad workers who built the tracks. (wiki)  


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Hike & Go Seek – Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail sign cropped.jpg

The Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota follows the rocky ridges overlooking Lake Superior for a total of 310 miles of pure adventure.  This unique trail takes you through forests of birch, pine, aspen, fir and cedar trees so hikers will enjoy views of boreal forests, babbling brooks, rushing waterfalls, abundant wildlife and the Sawtooth Mountains.  The lowest point in the patch is 602 ft above sea level and the highest point reaches 1,829 ft above sea level.  This footpath is intended for hiking only and motorized vehicles, mountain bikes and horses are not allowed on the trail.  Many avid hikers use this trail for long-distance hiking and there are 94 fee free campsites available for the attending hikers to use.

There are two primary sections to the Superior Hiking Trail.  The Duluth section of the trail is 50 miles long and starts southwest of the city of Duluth at the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.  This section is best suited for day hiking and there is only one backcountry campground located near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.  The other section is called the North Shore section and it is approximately 260 miles long and begins at the Martin Road Trailhead on the northern boundary of the city of Duluth.  

The Superior Hiking Trail Association builds, promotes and maintains the trail.  It is a Minnesota based non-profit corporation with more than 3,200 members.  The association produces a quarterly newsletter called “The Ridgeline” for its members which contains news of the trail, trail volunteer bios and association financial info. The trail was mostly built y crews of people that ere hired from local towns by the Minnesota Conservation Corps.
In December 2000, accolades were offered by “BackPacker Magazine” where they named the Superior Hiking Trail with the “Best Trail/Camp Shelter conditions; the trail with the “Best Signage” in the country and one of the most scenic trails in the nation.



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66 Hikes Along Route 66

Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri


The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.


The Mark Twain National Forest,  Missouri’s only national forest, encompasses roughly 1.5 million acres, mostly within the Ozark Highlands. Located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, the Ozark Highlands are an ancient landscape characterized by large permanent springs, over 5,000 caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized streams. Portions of the Ozarks were never under oceans, nor were the areas glaciated.is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half of Missouri.   It was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The park covers 3,068,800 acres with abundant Wilderness and Wildlife and a National Scenic River area. This huge park spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri.

Some unique features of the Mark Twain include Greer Spring, which is the largest spring on National Forest land and part of the Eleven Point National Scenic River, and pumps an average of 214 million gallons of water per day into the river.  The public can also visit the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, which offers views of over 30 miles to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. The 350-mile Ozark Trail system winds through much of the National Forest.

Wilderness Areas   The park has 9 Wilderness areas to explore

Bell Mountain.jpg


And here are a few other great hiking resources.


America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World