Popular North Shore hiking trail advises hikers to 'hike in place' amid COVID-19 pandemic

One of Minnesota’s most popular hiking trails is advising would-be hikers to “hike in place” amid the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid spread the virus in the small communities on the state’s North Shore. 

Outdoor activity is allowed, and recommended, under Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order, which goes into effect this weekend, but the Superior Hiking Trail Association is asking people to stay away from the Superior Hiking Trail for the time being and rediscover their own city or county’s parks and trails. 

The Superior Hiking Trail is an over 300-mile-long footpath that follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior from south of Duluth to the Canadian border. 

“Northern Minnesota counties are asking non-residents to avoid coming to recreate there,” the SHTA said in a message to hikers. “They’re afraid of a lot of things, but in particular, they fear their small and few hospitals could get overwhelmed if the virus takes hold there.” 

Earlier this week, the Cook County Board of Commissioners issued a travel advisory advising visitors to stay in their home area or primary residence due to the county’s limited health care infrastructure. Cook County makes up the upper northeast corner of the state and shares a border with Canada. It is home to the city of Grand Marais and the Lutsen Ski Resort as well as a significant portion of the Superior Hiking Trail. 

Stay home and don't go to your cabin, says northern Minnesota county

Amid the stressful times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be tempting for Minnesotans to want to escape to the cabin. But at least one county up north is advising people to stay put.

“We should all take their concern seriously,” the SHTA said of the travel advisories. “The trail itself and thousands of annual visitors who enjoy it depend on these small communities to remain healthy. We all must do our part to protect them, they are a vital part of our trail community.” 

The SHTA says this is not the best time to hike on the Superior Hiking Trail anyways, as the trail conditions are not ideal in the spring because “it’s either grainy, squishy snow or on its way to being mud.”