3/6/20-3/8/20. Cart-in 4
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is situated on Lake Superior in Two Harbors. It’s a backpacker’s paradise! They are open year-round and have 20 secluded Cart-In campsites within 2000 feet of the parking lot. They have wheeled carts available to move your camping gear to your campsite - or in the winter you could sled-in like we did. Each site has a fire ring, picnic bench and a bear locker for your food or gear. They also have 4 backpack sites with their own vault toilets and are 1/2 mile to 2 mile hike from the parking lot.. The sites are all nicely spaced with some close to the water with gorgeous views of Lake Superior, some of the lighthouse and others wooded. We got to scope out almost every one of them, as only one other person was camping here this weekend. You really can’t go wrong with any site at Split Rock as they were all beautiful and have their own little something to offer. Their showers are not open in the winter but they do have vault toilets throughout
They have 12 miles of hiking trails that run along Lake Superior and double back on the Gitchi-Gami trail. The Gitchi-Gami trail is a paved trail in summer which boasts biking or hiking and unplowed hiking in the winter. In the winter the park has hiking, snowshoeing and xcountry ski trails. .
The big draw is their historic lighthouse in which they charge a separate fee to enter. For all the times I have visited Split Rock, I have honestly never been to the light house. There is also river/stream fishing and access to several rock beaches. We hiked ALL the trails during our stay. They are diverse and beautiful! We particularly enjoyed the Day Hill trail which leads up to an overlook and gives you panoramic views of Lake Superior, the lighthouse and Split Rock Point.
This state park fills up very fast and is reservable, so we opted to visit in the winter. We chose site 4 which is close to the parking lot, next to Lake Superior and has views of the lighthouse. Our site was beautiful nestled among birch and pine (which most are), with waves crashing in the background. There is a short path that leads to a private bench that provides stunning views of the lighthouse and cliff views of the lake. We had clear skies and very little wind in our campsite. Highs in the 40s - low of 15 Friday, 28 Saturday. It was perfect winter camping weather!
I highly recommend a visit to this state park!
Spent a couple of nights here recently and really enjoyed the solitude. Trails are all marked and the proximity to the lighthouse was nice. Weather was cool and varied between clear and partly cloudy with a light rain for about an hour one morning. Site is on a relatively open, low bluff that overlooks Lake Superior to the South and has fire ring with grill grate, half a picnic table, a locker for food / gear, latrine and tent area padded with wood chips. Trees on site were perfect for my hammock. Waves crashing below site were calming and put me to sleep both nights - was much like beach camping in my home state of California! I did not hike the surrounding trails much as this was more of a short reconnaissance trip for future visits. If you plan on swimming be sure to bring water shoes! Pebbles/rocks are tough on bare feet.
While there I also took the opportunity to scout backpack site 1. This site has same amenities though it is more sheltered by trees. There is a short path that leads down to the water’s edge and a little swimming cove that could be cool for shallow rock diving. Large, flat granite formations for sunning yourself as well. Either site is awesome and Split Rock I’ll definitely be back!
This is an EPIC campsite! You get your own cart (each campsite as one assigned) and it is maybe a quarter mile cart in. The campsite has a nice picnic table, with a fire grate near by, and also has a really nice woodchip bed for the tent. The best part however is the stunning view. There is a bench that is on the edge of a cliff down to Lake Superior with a phenomenal view of the lighthouse! Would highly recommend
Great during every season!
We were married on Pebble Beach at this state park several years ago. The shoreline is breath taking. While the actual light house can be busy at times, the campground is quiet and very peaceful. All campsites are cart in only. Some are very close to the parking lot but others are a bit of a hike to be prepared. Lovely trails to hike and shoreline to explore.
Every year, on the November anniversary of the sinking if the Edmund Fitzgerald, there is a special day of activities at Split Rock Lighthouse, capped by a memorial service that includes the lighting of the lighthouse lamp at sundown. This is such a popular event that even though there had been cold and snow along the Shore for weeks, most campsites at Split Rock were taken for the weekend and some folks lingered into the next week. Intrepid campers we Minnesotans! Water is shut off in the campground bathhouse at this time if year, but if you are a hardy winter camper, and you dont mind using outhouses, then camping here in winter is do-able. The campsites are pretty much all walkin sites, but there are carts available. There are regular bathrooms in the visitor center but that is a long way from the campground! However, if you are prepared to rough it and know how to stay warm in the off season, it is possible to camp here, and the quiet winter season, the special light of the short winter days, and the amazing wild moods of Lake Superior in winter, make it worthwhile to try the experience! Probably best not to take the campsites close to shore though as waves crash way up onto land when the winter storms pick up
This campground has 18 sites, that are cart-in only. You park in the paved parking lot, and use the provided carts to haul your equipment to your site. They are between 200 and 1800 feet away, on hilly gravel trails. Each site is private, some are are hidden from the trail. Some are on the cliff edge, overlooking Lake Superior.
There is a nice shower and bathroom facility at the trail head. Water is available as well.
The Park requires a State Park permit, and a daily camping fee applies.
The area has many hiking trails, and the very popular and legendary Split Rock Lighthouse.
I absolutely love the Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. For the last six years we have driven up there approximately twice a year, and we have yet to run out of new places to explore or grow bored of the places that we have already been. My absolutely favorite place to camp so far has been Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. I’ve reviewed cart-in site 19 on The Dyrt previously, this time I’m reviewing cart-in site 9. The best part of camping here is that every campsite is unique, and most of them offer more privacy than you would get at a drive-in campground. You definitely get less road noise the closer you are to the lake.
There is a parking lot designated for cart-in campers. The carts themselves are kind of hidden behind a row of trees, just walk towards the bathroom structure in order to find them. Grab the cart with your campsite number on it and keep it at your site until you are ready to pack out. Keep in mind that MOST of the campsites require pushing the cart up or down a hill, so maybe take multiple trips or have extra people help carry some of the mid-weight items.
The obvious draw to this park is the lighthouse- it is run by the Minnesota Historical Society and you have to pay to even get up close to it. We have yet to cough up the fee to enter this area, but there are numerous places on the edge of the cliffs that offer great views of the lighthouse (the most Instagrammable spots are definitely outside of this special fee zone). The trail system is relatively extensive thanks to some regional trails cutting through the park. The Superior Hiking trail and paved Gitchi-Gami trails are some options, and one of the hiking trails is open to mountain bikers as well.
We actually tend to just hang out at our campsite when we camp here, but we did go on the Day Hill trail and went up to the observation point. It was unexpectedly beautiful and also featured a random fireplace that is apparently a great spot for a fire.
Camgpround: 5/5 stars
As a Dyrt Ranger I was offered the opportunity to review the RōM Pack from RōM Outdoors. It is a 3-in-1 engineered feat that offers you the ability to use it as a hiking pack, a poncho, or a blanket. I have to admit that I was skeptical when I first received it. This thing is made out of heavy duty materials and weighs in at 4.6 pounds, is wider than me, and when it was empty it really didn’t form to my body at all. I was really pleased that I wound up loving it!
What I really loved about it is that the wide straps really distribute the weight well on your body. I was nervous about how heavy it was already when it was empty, and for our major day hike I had probably between 15-20 pounds extra in it. This probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but in addition to having a generally achy back I’ve had a LOT of stress-induced tightness in my neck and upper back. Despite this, I wound up carrying the pack for most of our moderately-difficult ~5 hour hike on the Superior Hiking Trail to Bean and Bear lake.
I never felt any soreness from this pack at all, and in fact the only reason I asked my husband to carry it for the last stretch was because my glutes were giving out (fitness tracker said we climbed 121 flights of stairs!!). I was thrilled that when I took off the pack that all of my recent stiffness was reduced by about 90%!!! The weight of the pack combined with all of my movement must have stretched my muscles out in a therapeutic way. Some of the stiffness has creeped back, and I’m tempted to cancel all of my appointments that I scheduled last week for it and just go for another hike with this pack instead!
I got to try out the poncho feature at Tettegouche state park on my last North Shore day- it was ~45 degrees and was constantly raining. I was able to figure out how to convert the pack into a poncho quite easily, but I will definitely need a tutorial to convert it back into a pack. The thickness of the material was perfect for keeping me warm in this temperature- it might be too heavy for a hot weather rain. I felt a little self-conscious because of the backpack straps hanging off the front. You can either keep your hands inside of the poncho or use the snap buttons to close up the edges into sleeves.
Opportunities for improvements
Snap button strength- I only wore the rompack as a poncho for a 1.5 mile hike. I used the snaps to create “sleeves” and most of the snaps came undone with basic movements.
Waist straps- I only used the chest load balance strap since I found that the waist strap wasn’t terribly comfortable. I definitely would have preferred a waist strap that features padding like the Journey pack.
Chest strap tightness- I had this load balance strap as tight as it would go- and there is definitely an opportunity to make the non-adjustable side of the straps adjustable.
Poncho hood coverage- My head is big- women’s hats generally don’t fit me. I thought that the hood could be slightly larger or feature a bill that pops out to prevent rain from getting on my face/glasses.
Shoulder strap placement- When you are wearing this product as a poncho the straps kind of just hang down the front. I’m not a backpack/poncho engineer, but it seemed like you could easily rotate the hood opening 180 degrees and have the straps go down your back instead. It also seems like there is an opportunity to put snaps on the shoulder pads to keep them flat against the poncho.
Bottle holders- the pack features two mesh pockets for water bottles or other things that you want to keep handy. They aren’t stretchy, which means that wider water bottles might not be able to be stored here.
Colors- Hopefully as RōM Outdoors grows they could expand their color selection.
-the lighthouse is a must-see, but if you’re done with the history and the rock piles, you can wade out to the island to the right (the south) of the lighthouse! Go to the point of the rock beach that sticks out towards the island and be careful in the middle - it gets slippery. It’s easier in the fall but can be done in the summer!
-would not recommend the wade for children
Split Rock Lighthouse is one of my favorite trips when visiting Duluth. Waking up to seeing Lake Superior is just as amazing as the hiking trails nearby. This campsite is a great balance between nature and still being close to civilization. I would recommend this spot for a quick hike or a few nights stay. There's plenty to do and see in this area that you truly can't spend enough time here.