Sioux Hustler Trail

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Sioux Hustler Trail

Postby sara » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:06 am

I am requesting ALL information regarding hiking the Sioux Hustler Trail. Including ALL entry points onto trail, where I can leave my car, how do I set up the "vacation", etc. I also just need description of the area and trail so that I am sure that this is where I would like to go. I want secluded (not some car camping deal) hike-in, the longer the hike the better.
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Re: Sioux Hustler Trail

Postby finnbay » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:23 am

I've only been on bits and pieces of the trail, but if you're looking for secluded and long, this one will fit the bill. I have a friend who is writing a book on hiking trails in the Superior National Forest and BWCA, and if you're interested, shoot me an email and I'll give you some contact info.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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Re: Sioux Hustler Trail

Postby bwca » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:06 am

Hi Sara,

Did you make a trip to the Sioux Hustler Trail?
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Re: Sioux Hustler Trail

Postby uberzak » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:00 pm

I've posted a guide to this trail online at It has maps and descriptions of most of the campsites on the trail. I hope this information is useful to anyone planning a hike along Sioux-Hustler trail or a day trip to the Devils Cascade.

The trail is quite passable as of the time of writing, but there still are hundreds of trees down along its length. The section between the trail head and the Devils Cascade is mostly clear. Well worth the trip.




Length: 56 km

Difficulty: Challenging

Effort: ~22 hrs (3-4 days)

The Sioux-Hustler trail is a minimally maintained foot path located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in north-eastern Minnesota. This loop winds its way along granite slopes and through saturated low-land areas to a series of pristine lakes, accessible only by canoe or by foot. Conditions along this trail range from well-maintained to downright miserable in areas with an active beaver population. Signage along this trail is very poor.

Highlights include a pristine wilderness setting, lakeside camping, beaver dam crossings, and several great panoramic views over the surrounding landscape. The section of trail leading up to the Devil’s Cascade falls is a popular day trip among hikers, where hikers can overlook a stretch of foaming, white rapids that flow over dark, granite rocks.

The trail was originally built by the US Forest Service to service a fire lookout tower in the area and later preserved for its historic and recreational value. After falling into disrepair the trail was restored in the early 1990s. It is sporadically maintained by local outdoor clubs like the Minnesota Canoe Association and the Kekebabic Trail Club. Hunters are encountered frequently along the first ¼ mile of trail along an old logging road.

Signage along this trail is very sparse and at times non-existent. Important junctions are often marked only by rock cairns. Sawn end of logs are actually the best way to reassure yourself that you are still on the trail.

The trail begins by following an old logging road for about a ¾ of a kilometer and then veers left abruptly onto a foot path. The turn is marked by a brown US Forest Service post. This type of post is only used one more time on the trail to mark a right turn into a low-lying area.

Junctions and side trails to campsites are often marked by cairns and hewn logs.

Areas around beaver dams are occasionally a maze of fallen trees, which can make locating the trail on the other side of the dam difficult. It is an absolute necessity that you bring a detailed topographical map and compass with you on this hike.

Several primitive campsites are located near the trail and accessible via (short) side trails. These campsites consist of a heavy, cast iron grate for a fire, room to pitch a few tents, and if you are lucky a portable “potty” type toilet. All campsites are located near lakes, with the exception of the Devils Cascade site which is situated beside a river.

This trail can be hiked at any time of the year; however, winter treks are not advisable on this trail because it is so sparsely marked. Fall would be the best time to hike this trail as it is liable to be driest then.

Dangers and Annoyances
“Minimal Maintenance”
This term means that a lot of bush-whacking is required. You will need to get around or over (literally) hundreds of fallen trees along this trail. For this reason, gaiters are highly recommended as a way of saving your ankles from relentless cuts and scrapes. Junctions are not well marked on this trail so it is important to be extra vigilant for cairns, follow your map closely, and keep your eyes peeled for important side trails.

There are several low lying, boggy areas along this trail which make perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. If the weather has been particularly wet then you may want to bring a head net with you to fend off the onslaught. That said, the majority of this trail is actually very well routed along granite ridges and slopes where the bugs should not be overly bad.

No Side Trail to Shell Lake Campsite
There is no trail leading to the campsite located by Shell Lake. Hikers who plan on staying at this site will need to bushwhack for about 15 minutes along the peninsula to get there.

Water Crossings
There are many water crossings on this trail, several of which are along beaver dams. During spring flooding these dams can overflow their lip making crossing a bit difficult. There is also a challenging ford at the set of rapids between Heritage and Shell Lake by the portage. This crossing can rise above mid-thigh when water levels are particularly high (i.e. during spring).

Use proper technique when fording streams and always remember to aim into the oncoming current, step sideways one foot at a time, and use a stick if the water level is above your knees. A stick is also useful for prodding the depth of the water beside you while you are shifting your way across.

If you are planning overnight trip within the BWCAW between May 1st and September 30th then you are required to obtain a permit. Outside of this season, self-issued permits can obtained from a box at the trailhead. You can check the user fees online at this site. At the time of writing, it will cost $12.00 to make a reservation online and an additional $16.00 user fee per adult or $8.00 per youth. Note that the Sioux-Hustler trail starts at entry point #15 in the BWCAW.

Reservations can be made online at A single permit is valid for the duration of your stay. Online reservations can only be made for a minimum of two persons. Permits must be picked up on the day of entry or the day before by the group leader at the permit issuing station specified on the permit. Note that you do not need an advanced reservation to pick up a permit at one of the permit issuing stations so long as the quota is not full. For more information, you can call the LaCroix Ranger District in Cook at 218-666-0020.

Camping is available near the trailhead at the Jeanette Lake campground.
Dogs are allowed on this trail.
There is a well stocked little grocery store and gas station in Orr -- only about an hour’s drive from the trailhead.

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