Came here for my first Backpack one nighter. I stayed at site #3 in early June 2020. The sound and sights of the river was mesmerizing. Mosquitoes were the worst in the parking lot but tamed once I got moving and applied some spray. The walk in was a little confusing and I took the wrong right turn but it was easy to get back to the main path then get back on track. Rugged terrain with rocks and roots, ups and downs, and so beautiful!! The smell of hemlocks was so lovely and the wildflowers made me swoon. Logs were set around a fire ring. There was no bear locker and I had to hang my bag. The primitive toilet was a little walk and closer to the next backpack site (#4). I believe there was a pit toilet in the parking lot as well.
Site 3. Summer 2020. The parking lot can be very full. It does have a bathroom in the lot. The hike in is moderate to hard. Not easy for children if they are carrying things. You cannot maneuver coolers and things like that on the trail. Watch your step. Site three drops down to the creek. It is waterfront and very beautiful. You can hear the falls. The site is very large. It is creek front and bring your water filter. There is a non sheltered pit toilet within walking distance back up towards the trail. The site has a grate, but no table or bear box. It is beautiful. It has a lot of tree coverage. This is a buggy area in the summer. You can hear the trail hikers and somewhat see them but this site is mostly private.
The trails of this park are either a hikers dream or nightmare. Exposed roots, large rocks, and elevation changes are common. Good potential for a twisted ankle. I would not advise bringing small children or inexperienced hikers as they will likely not have a very good time. Although there is the Bensen Lake trail that is a wooden boardwalk that rings Bensen Lake. This trail connects to the picnic grounds that is a great place for a day outing. You can drive almost right up to it and there is a vault toilet. The lake itself is fairly small. I don't know if it is worth the trouble of bringing a canoe or kayak unless you plan on taking some trout out of the lake.
9/14/2020 - 9/16/2020
I camped in site 19 which is only .5 miles from the parking lot. Flat road and wooden boardwalk sounds good until you get to the trail that leads from the boardwalk up a hill to the campsite. According to my GPS this is 138 feet of elevation. And remember what I said about the large rocks and exposed roots? This trail doesn't disappoint. Let's put it this way, you will not feel guilty for playing hooky from the gym during your stay here. This site is also not level. It has a pitch of about 5 degrees which doesn't sound like much until you attempt to balance your cookpot on your backpacking stove. There also isn't a bear box which I am told the other campsites do have. My guess is that nobody wanted to carry one up that hill. You do get a field latrine and decent view of the sky. There is a rocky outcrop in the middle of the site that is a perfect platform to lay down on and stargaze. There is a couple of bushcraft style benches and a stool near the fire ring. Good luck finding dry deadfall for firewood around the campsite. If you want a fire you are going to have to bring your own up the hill.
I decided to take a look at the neighboring campsite 18 thinking that this must be a cakewalk compared to 19. It wasn't on a hill but the trail resembled something like what Indiana Jones had to contend with getting into the Temple of Doom. I didn't even get all the way to it. Although I didn't come across any signs that said, "I'd Turn Back If I were You" - I turned back partially because I already had a long hike planned for that morning, and this isn't the trail I wanted to have to run down while being chased by a huge boulder.
All this toil has its payoff though. There are some great views. The cascades on the Manitou river, the overlooks, and the Matt Willis trial that looks like you are going to see Robin Hood come walking down the trial at any time. This trail seems like it hasn't been touched by humans in a while. There were lots of trees fallen over the trail and there are parts where it is difficult to tell where the trail goes.
Would I come back to this park? Absolutely. Will I reserve campsite 19 again? I think I will pass on that, and site 18 for that matter - wherever it is.
Note - there is no cell service in the park, You do get it when you get out to the park entrance on county road 7. There is a hand pump for water near the entrance. Otherwise you will need to filter or boil the water you find in the park. The map shows springs that flow towards the Manitou river, although they are not marked as such.
6/5/20-6/7/20. BP 6
We originally had another campground reservation this weekend but due to Covid it was canceled. One site was available at Crosby-Manitou so we decided to head there, our first visit to this state park. Crosby-Manitou is located along the very popular north shore but the parking lot and entrance are located about 20 minutes off the main road Hwy 61, so it gets less traffic. Admittedly, I have been to this area MANY times and never made the side trip here. This state park did not disappoint and I’m sad I waited so long to visit.
There is no ranger station and this is a minimal maintenance state park. They are 22 sites and they are all hike-in, backpack campsites. Many are situated along the Manitou River and others along Benson Lake. The trails are very rocky and narrow in spots with many elevations changes, it’s a true backpacking experience. We were in site 6 which is on an overlook and our upward hike was 1.75 miles. The site itself was wooded, spacious and gorgeous. At the overlook, steps away, we had sunrise and views of Lake Superior, the perfect morning coffee spot. There was a fire pit but no picnic table or bear locker, we hung our food. We also had a pit toilet that was very clean. We did carry in our own firewood, though there was some dead wood nearby and there was no nearby water source, so we had to carry in water as well. Many other sites have water access however. There is plenty of hiking throughout this state park and several waterfalls, the cascades waterfall is a big draw for day hikers. When we visited the park was very busy and the parking lot was completely full.
All in all we really enjoyed this state park and recommend to people looking to backpack in.
This park is great: it is secluded and quiet.
You will have to work for these rewards. The trails are rugged and minimally maintained. There are some pretty drastic changes in elevation to navigate on some pretty challenging paths (roots, cliffs, mud, etc).
This is def not a place for beginners.
Stayed at site 13 and loved it. Pit toilet was near by with a great view of the trail (literally, if anyone walked by, they can see you). Water was easy to get to for filtering (do not try to carry water in.)
Downside: there was not a lot of suitable dead wood near by for fires. Too, if you're a star gazer the forest canopy will block your view of the skies.
We were here in late June and the mosquitos weren't bad on the first two days; the third day we were eaten alive. Bring appropriate clothing to protect from mosquitos and ticks (long pants and shirts) as well as repellant.
I wouldn't camp past site 13: 14, 15, and 16 are along a dead-end trail that stretches for another 1.5 miles with many ascents and descents along the way: in short, making it more taxing to explore the rest of the park. If I were to stay at any of these, I would stay put for my time there.
This was our first visit to Crosby - Manitou, and we will definitely return. The hike to the river backpack sites is challenging with constant rocks, roots, mud and steep hills. You'll definitely earn your site on the hike in.
Site 13 sits on a ridge about 15 feet above a curve in the river and has an easy path down to the water. It's completely secluded, and the breeze off the river keeps the bugs at bay.
No showers or flush toilets, no cell service, no store within 20 minutes. But if you want seclusion -- we only met a couple of hikers over the course of 2 full days -- this is the park for you. Just avoid the parking lot on weekend afternoons as day hikers descend to do the short loops by the entrance.
All campsites are hike-in, with the closest being about a mile in. Pack light. This was my first solo backpacking camping trip (also first with a 6 month old GSP) and the pack in was fine but hiking out I definitely learned that I over packed.
I stayed at Campsite #8 which was beautiful, serene and right next to the Manitou river, so easy access for water filtering and for the dog to drink. There is a very nice fire pit with grill rack, although no bear pole and not very many tress that you can get your food up in easily. There are two perfect trees to hang a hammock right near the tent flat area.
We didn't see much for wildlife, except for a few birds, although there was some wolf poop in our site.
Overall a great place for a solo hiking trip. There weren't as many views of lake superior as I thought there might be. Although, I would like to go back and continue to follow the river all the way to the shore, or at least see if that's possible.
An excellent spot away from any human activity. Hike-in on a flat boardwalk and then expect a short but steep climb to the top of a hill for this camp spot. Recommended to fill water at the spigot near the park entrance, or bring a water filter to climb back down the hill and pump water at the lake. This site has 2 small tent pads - would be really hard to fit a tent bigger then a 2-person on each pad. Great trees for hanging a bear bag, and this site has its own private privy nestled in the trees to boot! Bring your own TP of course. A fantastic spot in the woods away from any other campers. Picture below taken from the view of sitting next to campfire pit.
I did a solo hike and camp here. I reserved campsite 5, which is very secluded. This site is right on the river. Be advised, there is not a lot of dead hardwood on the ground for building a campfire. Plenty of birch trees fallen,but they are all moist and rotten. There are some pretty good elevation gains on Yellow Birch Trail. I’d suggest having trekking poles. Some of the trails are overgrown. They could be hard to navigate in low light so bring a good light source. I would camp here again.
The drive is on a beautiful dirt road off a small town called Finland, MN. The website and parking lot are pretty straight forward. There is a water source and restroom near the parking lot. There is a guide to which trail you should take to hike to your site. The trail maps can be tricky. I recommend a paper map ahead of time. The cell service is non existent. The website even boast river view panoramic photos at certain points on the Manitou River. You can choose from many campsites. Reservations are done online or by phone. They are pack in and out sites only. This hike is difficult. It's like hiking a steep rocky dried creek bed. Down hill and up hill. Large roots, trees, and some man made steps. Large moose prints were seen. Please pack your bear bells and be knowledgable in situations of crossing wildlife. The website states that certain sites are "river front". Campsite 1 is the farthest north and last campsite. It was chosen so we would not see anyone hiking by. They do push back most campsites from the trail. This one is a ways from the trail. Unfortunately after and intense hike in not only were we not river front the hike down to get water was not in the least user friendly. Three times a day for water and back up the steep large hill was not what was expected from a "river front" site. The place is beautiful and does supply a latrine, log bench, and fire pit with metal grill grate. The tall trees limit star gazing. August was a crazy month for the mosquitos. A bug shirt is recommended during hiking and on site. The trails are thick.
Another down fall to Campsite 1 is after hiking north all the way in you are about 1/4 mile from the main road (7) that wraps around north of you. You can hear cars driving by. In fact there is a small trail that leads straight to the dirt road and we hiked it out to the flat dirt road for an easy hike back to the car. It takes less than 10 minutes to the road. Then a 1.5 mile dirt flat road hike back to the car. Whats the point?
We did have an opportunity to follow the map to an awesome overlook and to see other sites. The trails are remote and beautiful. The river has amazing views of the falls. We will be staying at Campsite 4 next time. Its on the river, but unfortunately is also visible from the trail. Site 4 had a close latrine, direct access to clean running river water, pit, and a view to the falls.
There is access to the Superior Hiking Trail from this state park.