Monday, June 20, 2016

Superior National Forest: Herriman Lake Trail

Echo River Loop

Today, I was given permission to go off on a solo hike. I would rather be out in our new canoe with Noelle and Sierra, but extremely high winds were forecast for the day. I figured that at least the high winds would blow the mosquitoes away, and so I headed out towards Crane Lake, where I turned at the large voyageur statue,
for a hike on the Herriman Lake Trail system.

The trailhead parking lot is pretty large, but there isn't a sign there. I ended up driving past it to the end of County Road 424. When I reached a resort at the end of the road I realized my mistake and headed back to the parking area. The trailhead itself is just across the road.
Herriman Lake TH
I filled out a wilderness permit since a very small portion of my hike would be inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The trail was immediately pretty wet. We've had a lot of rain lately. However, unless it has been really dry lately, I would expect to hike through some mud and swampy areas on this trail.

There were lots of wildflowers in bloom along the trail. There was the standard bunchberry,
but also lots of buttercup,
yellow flower
and Canada anemone.
Canada anemone
After .3 mile I reached a picnic site at a cascading section of the Echo River.
Echo River rapids
I crossed the river on a sturdy footbridge
bridge over Echo River
and soon found the a trail junction. At the junction I made a right turn. It is signed for Herriman Lake. This section of trail closely followed the Echo River, though due to thick vegetation you could rarely see the river. There was, however, one really nice but overgrown path that led down to the bank of the beautiful river.
Echo River

Soon enough I found myself at another trail junction, a left hand turn led to Herriman Lake. However, for this hike I headed straight ahead on the trail signed as the Echo River Loop.
Echo River Loop
Soon I found myself at an opening in the forest and a large beaver pond.
beaver pond
The trail crossed on the dam here which had burst at some point in the past and left very steep and slippery banks to descend and climb back up. There was some blue flag iris in bloom along the banks of the beaver pond.
blue flag 1

As I headed back into the woods, the trail became more overgrown. Luckily there were some cairns marking the route every now and then.
I even found a few ripe wild strawberry fruits.
wild strawberry
I didn't take them, but instead left them for the wildlife. I soon found myself climbing some rock outcroppings to a really nice view of the Echo River down below.
1st overlook
In one section of trail there were close to 20 wood lilies in bloom!
wood lily
twin wood lilies
butterlies on lily
I took a few photos of these very photogenic plants. I than entered into the BWCAW for a short time.
wilderness sign

From this point the trail traversed lots of exposed bedrock.
on rock outcrop
There were lots of blueberry shrubs growing in along the sunny exposed rocks and few looked like they were just about ripe!
There were some views out to the Echo River here and there.
at overlook
In one area I found a few white flowers that looked to be some type of morning glory.
two white flowers
Wildlife sightings included a small hawk, I'm thinking a Cooper's Hawk.
hawk in tree
While I didn't see any moose, I did see evidence that there still are a few moose in northern Minnesota.
moose scat

At one point I found a nice table and chair constructed out of rock to take a rest on.
snack table
Shortly after my rest the trail get difficult to follow. The cairns were spaced very far apart, and were sometimes covered with vegetation. Several time I found myself backtracking to the last cairn I had seen to try and figure out where I was going. It was a bit frustrating, but eventually I found my way. I made pretty quick time on my return trip to the car. Overall, I would say this was a pretty good hike. I got a few mosquito bites, but if anything the deer flies were the worst part of the experience.

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