Crosby Manitou (7 mi. north of Finland on County Rd. 7, 218/226-6365, $20 campsite) is one of the best, but least-known, wilderness escapes on the North Shore —in part because getting there requires a long detour off Highway 61.
This was the first Minnesota  state park designed for backpackers, and 21 wonderful campsites are scattered about the 6,682 acres, mostly along the Manitou River.
The 24 miles of hiking-only trails are generally steep and rugged, but they reward the adventurous with overlooks of the gorge and excellent wildlife and fall-color viewing.
Arguably the most beautiful path is the West Manitou River Trail, which hugs the river through most of the park and, at the north end, passes the only waterfall accessible by trail. A recommended loop combines the River Trail with the Middle Trail, Yellow Birch Trail, and Misquah Trail. It’s about a 3.5-mile hike and features four fantastic overlooks.
The park’s easiest hike is the mile-long boardwalk around Benson Lake. The North Shore–length Superior Hiking Trail follows parts of each of these trails through the park for five miles. Anglers appreciate the small lake because trout are abundant and motors are prohibited.
Even the less energetic should consider a picnic along Benson Lake, or just come up for the lovely drive along the Baptism River.