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HAPPY TRAILS: Corundum Mine Trail is worth it for the spectacular view

The Corundum Mine Trail is about 3.8 miles out and back. Most of the trail, which is more of a mowed path through the woods, is very easy to hike and has many wildflowers and wild raspberries along the edge.

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At the top of Corundum Point in the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along the North Shore a person can see a beautiful view of Lake Superior and park. Adelle Whitefoot / Duluth News Tribune
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After a very stressful Tuesday morning, I was eager to get on the trail and explore some new areas of the North Shore.

This week I decided to take a hike on the Corundum Mine Trail about 17.5 miles north of Two Harbors on Minnesota Highway 61. The trail connects to the paved Gitchi Gami State Trail and is inside the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

I worked in Two Harbors at the now-closed Lake County News-Chronicle for four years and never thought about checking out this trail. I knew trails existed on the lakeside of Highway 61 near Split Rock River but I didn’t know its name and never explored it until now.

To get to the Corundum Mine Trail here’s what you have to do: park at the Split Rock River Trailhead; follow the signs that say “Pedestrian underpass to the lake;” go under Highway 61; take a left onto the paved Gitchi Gami State Trail; walk on the path for about 150 yards; and on the right, you’ll find the trailhead for the Corundum Mine Trail.

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Gary Meader / gmeader@duluthnews.com

The Corundum Mine Trail is about 3.8 miles out and back. Most of the trail, which is more of a mowed path through the woods, is very easy to hike and has many wildflowers and wild raspberries along the edge.

I could still hear Highway 61 when a car or truck hit the rumble strips, but for the most part, I could only hear the lapping waves of Lake Superior.

The last 0.1 miles is not easily hiked but it is so worth it. This has probably been my favorite hike so far for this series and it’s all because of the view at the top. You can see for miles and miles along the North Shore. It would probably be an amazing place to check out the fall colors next month.

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Those who are using the Gitchi Gami State Trail or heading to the Corundum Mine Trail can take a walk to Lake Superior at the mouth of the Split Rock River. Adelle Whitefoot / Duluth News Tribune

I don’t know what I was expecting when I got to the top but I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the view.

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After hiking nearly 2 miles up, I took some time for myself to rest and soak up the scenery. If my day job as the education reporter at the News Tribune wasn’t calling me back, I could have stayed up there for hours.

So I sat on a giant boulder, drank some water and just enjoyed the breeze on what was a very humid day. While I was up there I thought about the history of the trail and what it would have looked like in the 1900s.

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Remains of an old corundum mine can be seen at the top of the Corundum Mine Trail in the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along the North Shore. Adelle Whitefoot / Duluth News Tribune

Because this trail is in a state park there was an informational plaque near the top where remains of an old mining operation can be found.

The plaque says in 1901, Duluth prospector Ed Lewis claimed to have discovered a form of corundum, a mineral considered to be one of the toughest found in nature, just behind diamonds. This prompted three mining companies, including Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, to begin mining in Minnesota.

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The Corundum Mine Trail in the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along the North Shore is a very easy trail to hike, though the last stretch becomes a little difficult as it goes uphill. Adelle Whitefoot / Duluth News Tribune

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The plaque says the North Shore Abrasives Company began mining at Corundum Point in 1904, but unfortunately, there was no corundum, but a softer mineral called anorthosite. So they closed up shop in 1908 and two years later a fire destroyed the mine shacks.

So if you enjoy mining history, the North Shore and an easy hike with a rewarding view, I suggest you check out the Corundum Mine Trail because the effort is worth it.

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The Corundum Mine Trail in the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along the North Shore offers many different views of Lake Superior. Adelle Whitefoot / Duluth News Tribune

Have a favorite trail you want us to check out? Drop us an email at outdoors@duluthnews.com with the subject line “Happy Trails.”

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Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

Adelle Whitefoot covers K-12 education in northeast Minnesota for the Duluth News Tribune. She has been covering education in Minnesota since 2014.
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