Devil Track River, Get In and Explore

Explore the Canyon, Wildflowers, and Flow of the Devil Track River

We were looking for water as the temperature soared into the upper 70’s and the summer sun beat down on this August afternoon.  Lake Superior is too cold for comfort and inland lakes are too inconvenient. What to do? Of course, hike in The Devil Track River! This one is perfect because of its huge shoulders, islands, and shallow bed. This is an interesting new way to enjoy hiking on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Devil Track River

Devil Track River

Hiking through the beautifully clear and gently running water

From the road, we found a trail through a patch of black-eyed Susans. We followed the trail down to the wide rhyolite banks and clean, shallow water that is so familiar when hiking along the rivers of North Shore of Lake Superior. My first step in the water (with shoe and sock, because that’s how I roll) engulfed my foot in the cool, refreshing water. With both feet acclimated to the ankle deep water, it was easy to tromp on through to the next bank. Navigating the bed of the Devil Track River takes you in and out of the water in quick stints.

When we weren’t hiking along the wide banks of flat rock, we were navigating the smooth rocks and pebbles that are just under the beautifully clear, gently running shallow water.

Wide, rocky banks of the Devil Track River

Inside the Canyon Walls

The river snakes through the canyon alternating to areas of sun and shade.  The river is at the bottom of what Northern Wilds called the “Grand Canyon of the North Shore.” That’s because it’s towering cliffs rise up over a hundred feet from where the water casually flows through. Normally when hiking on the North Shore you find yourself at the top rim of a river canyon. Being inside the canyon walls didn’t freak me out as much as I thought it would. It didn’t feel enclosed because of the wide river bed.

To stand next to the rhyolite cliffs is like a journey back in time to when the glaciers shaped this landscape. How long did it take the river to cut through? How do trees grow out of the canyon walls? It’s cool to think I’m standing amidst this natural wonder, next to this towering, ancient volcanic rock that is now the Devil Track River.

Rhyolite canyon walls of the Devil Track River

Flora and Fauna

My boy walked along as fast as he could while I took time to notice the flora and fauna.

The goldenrod, the purple spotted joe-pye weed, late-season raspberries, and fiddle fern are all signs of the season and worth a minute of my time. This is a nice hike to experience wildflowers, aquatic life, the sounds of songbirds, and being in the water. And walking the river bed is just a little more interesting than walking next to it.

Eventually, we would have made it to the barrier falls, but not on today’s adventure. I’ll try to make it to the falls on snowshoes next time. The way out ended just as it began, by finding a path through the black-eyed Susans.

golden rod along the Devil Track River

golden rod

Black Eyed Susans along the Devil Track River

Black Eyed Susans

Tips for hiking the North Shore’s Devil Track River:

  • Wear water shoes to protect your feet from sharp rocks, sticks and other hazards.
  • Walk with sure feet and take your time to prevent slipping.
  • You may want to use hiking poles for extra assistance.
  • Avoid deeper holes and stronger eddies.
  • Your feet can get cold and fatigued going through the water so be sure to monitor your distance on the way in so you aren’t too uncomfortable on the way out. When your feet are cold and saturated it is easier for them to become injured.
  • Watch for fly fishermen.
  • Go with a buddy.

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