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Happy Trails: Pattison Park's Overlook Trail offers quick hike, lovely scenery

"We got to the bench where the trail overlooks the Black River quickly. The foliage hadn't started to change colors at that point, so green leaves filled our view. I bet it's a gorgeous spot to sit now that the leaves are starting to turn," writes Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten.

Black River on the Overlook Trail
The Black River is seen from Pattison State Park's Overlook Trail on Sept. 10.
Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten / Superior Telegram
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TOWN OF SUPERIOR — One of my goals is to hike all the trails in Pattison State Park.

Big Manitou Falls Trail? Check.

Beaver Trail? Check.

Little Manitou Falls Trail? Check.

That only left three trails.

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Overlook Trail.jpg
The Overlook Trail at Pattison State Park is outlined in red.
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

My husband and I recently hosted some friends who live on the other side of Wisconsin. The last time they visited, we tried to hit as many Northland staples as we could, so we just did a quick stop at Big Manitou Falls and called it good.

On their second trip, and knowing I had this column coming up, I asked if they wanted to check out a different portion of the park. They were in.

We decided to keep things short so we could explore a few other places after the hike. We chose the Overlook Trail, a 1.2-mile loop on the east side of Interfalls Lake.

When we drove into the park, we stopped at the office to get a map and the ranger on duty told us to be careful because a bear had been spotted near the Overlook Trail recently.

My husband asked if I still wanted to hike the trail. I said yes — not that I wanted to run into a bear, but I wanted to hike the trail, and I figured with four adults, a child and two dogs we would make enough noise to alert any bears nearby.

A sign points the way on the Overlook Trail
A sign points the way on the Overlook Trail in Pattison State Park on Sept. 10.
Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten / Superior Telegram

The trail starts near an old ranger station and doubles as a cross-country ski trail in winter. A service road forms a small portion of the trail near the station. Red signs marked "Overlook Trail" point the way.

We got to the bench where the trail overlooks the Black River quickly. The foliage hadn't started to change colors at that point, so green leaves filled our view. I bet it's a gorgeous spot to sit now that the leaves are starting to turn.

The trail is wide and wanders entirely through the woods. Portions were covered with gravel, others were dirt or grass, and there were sections with old boards in the ground, too.

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The 3.8-mile multi-use trail was great for an endurance trek, but the in-trail traffic was a bit busy for this gal.

It would be possible to bring a child on this hike in a wagon or a jogging stroller as there aren't steep hills and the terrain isn't particularly rough. It might be tough to push or pull at some points because you are in the woods and no trail is perfectly smooth unless it's paved.

Overlook Trail at Pattison State Park
The Black River is seen through the trees beyond a bench on Pattison State Park's Overlook Trail on Sept. 10.
Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten / Superior Telegram

Our son enjoyed the views from the hiking backpack, so if you have one or can borrow one from a friend, I would go that route.

I was right about the noise. We spent the whole hike catching up on our lives and didn't see any bears.

That being said, anyone who goes hiking around here should know what to do if they spot a bear. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a pamphlet with information on what to do if you come across one. Also be sure to stop by the office of whatever state park you're visiting to check with the ranger or volunteer about recent bear sightings, as well.

With all the chatting we did, the hike went by quickly. By the time we got back to the trailhead at the old ranger station, it felt like we had only just left.

All in all, it was a nice hike, and one I will have to do again to check off the other two trails — the Overlook Trail leads to the River View Trail and the Oak Ridge Trail.

Happy hiking!

Gravel portion of Overlook Trail
A portion of Pattison State Park's Overlook Trail is gravel, shown here Sept. 10.
Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten / Superior Telegram
Happy Trails logo.jpg
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten is the regional editor for Duluth Media Group, overseeing the Cloquet Pine Journal and the Superior Telegram.
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