Onion River Hiking Trail, Lutsen MN

The Onion River Hiking Trail is located at Ray Berglund State Wayside, between Tofte and Lutsen, Minnesota, at mile marker 85.1.  The 1.1 mile out-and-back trail takes you along the rim of the Onion River canyon for an easy hike any time of year. While you’re at the Ray Berglund State Wayside, make a pit-stop at the super swanky outhouse, or pack a picnic to enjoy with a nice view of Lake Superior.

Ray Berglund State Wayside

Ray Berglund State Wayside – April. Swanky outhouse, and stairs to the Onion River Hiking Trail.

Onion River Hiking Trail

The Onion River Hiking Trail starts in the parking lot of the Ray Berglund State Wayside. Kick off your hike with a giant flight of stairs! But you’ll need the stairs to reach the cliff-top trail and nice, open views of Lake Superior. This first part of the hike takes you along the top of the cliff parallel to Highway 61 and the Lake Superior shore (and the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail). There’s a few picnic tables situated along this section, placed for the perfect view. 

The trail continues north along the top rim of the Onion River canyon. The trail is not on the edge of the canyon, but there are several “pull-off” areas to an edge where you can see the river and towering canyon walls. Unfortunately, most of the views are not amazing compared to other riverside hikes in the area. Tree branches obstruct the view of the falls.  Here are examples from spring and winter. But either way…it’s cool to actually be there, at the top of the Onion River’s deep dark canyon! 

View of Onion River Falls - spring.

View of Onion River Falls – Spring.

View of Onion River Falls - Winter

View of Onion River Falls – Winter

Although the full views of the falls are obstructed, there are places to get daringly close-up. After you pass the upper falls, the canyon walls become lower giving way to a few nice places to explore the edge of the cascades. There’s even some Lake Superior views to be had!

Onion River above the falls

Onion River – above the falls – December.

Onion River Hiking Trail

Cascading falls of the Onion River – April

I like this trail because…

The Onion River Hiking Trail itself is nice because of it’s easy ability and because it travels through a lovely mixed forest, mostly conifer. And as mentioned, the canyon is pretty cool

Onion River Hiking Trail -Spring

Onion River Hiking Trail – mixed forest, mostly conifer

I also like this trail because I can walk my dog off-leash. Other trails, such as the Superior Hiking Trail, ask that dogs be leashed at all times. BTW, I only recommend walking your dog off-leash if they are trained to do so. My dog thoroughly enjoyed this late December hike (as usual)! But I wanted to keep her close as we ventured onto the ice bridges. She’s still a puppy, and she loves water, so I was wary of her getting too curious. But she did great! We even met a couple of other friendly dogs along the way. 

Dog walking on the Onion River Hiking Trail

Doggie exploration on the Onion River. Be careful, come!

Check out these other ways to enjoy winter on the North Shore

Candlelight Ski & Snowshoe Events

Skinny Sky Paradise: The Sugarbush Trails

Split Rock Lighthouse: A Short and Sweet Winter Treat

Snowmobile Drag Races at Skyport Lodge

   

 

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