Hike the Devil Track River Canyon

Hike the Devil Track River Canyon, near Grand Marais, MN

Hiking the Devil Track river is one of the most unique experiences on the North Shore MN! In the right conditions, you can explore the Devil Track river canyon during summer or winter. It is typically a low-flow river making it relatively safe to explore at the water level, whether you are wading through the water in the summer, or snowshoeing over the ice bridges in the winter. Add this to your list North Shore hiking bucket list!

Devil Track River

Devil Track River

Hiking the Devil Track River in the Summer

Put on your water shoes and tromp through the river water and wide banks. Depending on the river level, there are pools of water to navigate around or through. This part of the river close to Highway 61 (where you will enter) has wide rhyolite banks, making it easy to find dry walking. Weave your way around the dry banks for as long as you can, or sink your foot in the water and wade through the gentle flow. 

Part of the fun is getting your feet wet! During normal summertime conditions, the river has gently running, ankle-deep water that is fun to trudge through. You’ll definitely want to wear water shoes, and hiking poles would be helpful too. Beware of the conditions, I don’t advise adventuring into the river during high water levels. 

Wide, rocky banks of the Devil Track River

Hike through the river canyon

This area is made up of ancient lava rock called rhyolite. The river has spent thousands of years cutting through the rock to create astoundingly beautiful rock walls. The river snakes through the canyon alternating to areas of sun and shade, showing signs of life everywhere. 

It feels amazing to be here – within the walls of the river and its gentle water, lush greenery, and wildflowers galore. The river bed is wide, so the canyon doesn’t give you a closed-in feeling like it’s neighbor the Kadunce River

This is a nice hike on the North Shore 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.

Rhyolite canyon walls of the Devil Track River

 

golden rod along the Devil Track River

golden rod

Black Eyed Susans along the Devil Track River

Black Eyed Susans

Hiking the Devil Track River in winter

The Devil Track River is a popular destination for snowshoeing or hiking in the winter too! Because of the river’s relatively low flow, most of it freezes over nicely, and the wide banks create lots of room for packed trails. Hiking the Devil Track in the winter is the best way to explore this beautiful canyon.

Ice bridges take you over parts of the river that are flowing. You may run into ice climbers scaling the side of the canyon, other hikers, wildlife, and open water. I recommend doing this during the coldest part of winter – January and February – to make sure the conditions are safe. Never venture onto a frozen river unless you are sure it is safe. Look for a packed trail that has been recently used, and signs of other hikers.

How to get there

The Devil Track River is located 3.5 miles northeast of Grand Marais on Highway 61. There is no parking lot. Park off to the side of the highway being sure not to violate the no parking signs. The trail to the river is on the southwest side of the bridge.

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

  • Respect No Parking signs and private property.
  • 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 and be respectful of fly fishermen. 
  • In the winter make sure the ice is safe and only go during the coldest part of winter – January and February.
  • Go with a buddy.

You may also like

Sweetheart’s Bluff Hiking Trail in Grand Marais

Guide to North Shore Rivers & Waterfalls

Snowshoeing the Kadunce River Gorge

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