Friday, October 14, 2016
Autumn Paradise, Border Route Trail
On my first day off this week I went for a 12 mile hike on the South Lake Trail and Border Route Trail. For years I've heard about and seen photos from the overlooks along this section of trail. The photos showed spectacular views overlooking several lakes along the U.S./Canada border. Ever since the first time I've seen those photos I've wanted to see those views for myself. I always thought they involved a definite overnight backpack or several day trip via canoe. Well, recently I started looking into it a bit more since I've been doing a lot of hiking. I found out that it was probably a round-trip hike in the distance of 12 to 14 miles. With all the hiking I've done in the last couple of months I figured that was possible as a long day hike.
So, on Tuesday I got an early start and after 3 hours of hiking (I could have done it in a little less than that but you know me... I was stopping and taking quite a few photos along the way) I was standing at this overlook. The view is to the west and overlooks West Rose Lake, Rat Lake and South Lake. It was an unbelievably calm day. I couldn't believe that there wasn't even the faintest hint of a breeze on this high spot overlooking these beautiful lakes. At one point I even saw a couple of swans swimming along the shoreline of Rose Lake. I couldn't believe how nice of a day it was. All I was missing was some sunshine and blue sky. Even without that, the view was incredible. Easily one of the best overlook views in Minnesota.
When I got back to my car, my GPS was showing a round-trip distance of exactly 12.0 miles with an elevation gain of just over 2,000 feet. I was pretty tired but didn't feel beat the way I did after hiking the Caribou Rock Trail. That trail is east of the South Lake Trail and also goes to Rose Lake, but quite a bit further east along the lake. According to my GPS that trail was a hair over 10 miles round-trip with 2,800 feet of elevation gain. I found the South Lake/Border Route trail hike much easier (although still difficult) than the Caribou Rock Trail, even though it was a longer distance. Both hikes are long and rough and should not be attempted as a day hike unless you are an experienced hiker. There is zero cell service along this route so if you do attempt it as a day hike be sure someone knows exactly where you are going in case you don't return by an agreed-upon time. With the proper planning and preparation you can have an enjoyable, highly rewarding (and highly exhausting!) day :-)
Oh yeah, did I mention that after 7 hours spent on this 12 miles of trail I didn't see a single other hiker? If you're looking for a hike with some solitude, this is the one! I'm guessing you might see a few people if you hike it on a weekend in the summer, but this time of year, on a Tuesday, I had it all to myself!