'Hike your own hike': 250 miles in 19 days on the Superior Hiking Trail

A woman poses with a scenic background behind her.
Kate Bechtold reached the Northern Terminus 270 lookout on June 9.
Courtesy of Kate Bechtold

Minneapolis resident Kate Bechtold just finished a 250-mile hike in 19 days on the Superior Hiking Trail on June 9.

Bechtold said she averaged about 13 miles a day.

Though she told MPR News she grew up with a love of hiking and the outdoors. Her long-distance trek from Martin Road in Duluth to the Northern Terminus that overlooks the Canadian border — often referred to as a “traditional thru-hike” by SHT aficionados — was inspired by a longtime friend completing a four month trek throughout New Zealand.

“She was a big inspiration for me, she was telling me how amazing it was and what she learned from it and kind of encouraged me that I could do it, too. So mine was a bit shorter, but definitely still impactful.”

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Lisa Luokkala, the executive director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association, said the association doesn’t track how many people complete either the traditional thru-hike or the 300-mile end-to-end through hike, but the association wants to better understand trail visitors and hikers in the near future.

“As part of our larger master planning process we are studying visitor use, including user counts and intercept surveys,” Luokkala said. “By surveying SHT users over the trail season, the association will better understand how people are using the trail — day hiking, section hiking, thru-hiking, etc.”

Bechtold said her best advice before starting her long trek came from someone she met from the Superior Hiking Trail Association: “Hike your own hike.”

“Everyone’s hike is going to look different,” Bechtold said. “I think the most important part for me, at least, was to kind of release all of those expectations and do what felt good to me.”

That includes deciding the distance you want to go, your pace and even the kind of equipment you use. At most, you’ll need a pair of comfortable shoes, water and food on hand and perhaps some trekking poles — if that’s your preference.

A scenic view of a secluded pond with the sun low in the sky.
Kate Bechtold reached Fox Farm Pond on the third day of her hike, May 24, on the Superior Hiking Trail.
Courtesy of Kate Bechtold

Another piece of advice, she strongly recommends picking up guidebooks put together by the Superior Hiking Trail Association — or a guidebook for your trail of choice — to help plan out your treks before heading out.