SHT Thru-Hiking Guide now available in Print

I’m thrilled to announce the print version of my thru-hiking guide for the Superior Hiking Trail is now available. “Thru-hiking” a trail means hiking an entire trail in one hike. In the case of the Superior Hiking Trail, that means spending 2-4 weeks hiking more than 300 miles through rugged terrain with sweeping views of Lake Superior, endless boreal forests and close encounters with wildlife.

Thru-hiking the trail is a dream of many hikers and an extraordinary accomplishment.

To purchase the print version of guide, visit the SHT Thru-Hiking Guide page on this website. The Kindle version is also available on that page. The print version is also available for purchase from my publisher, Northern Wilds Media. Thank you Shawn Perich and Amber Pratt for all your hard work! You’ve made this backpacking writer incredibly proud to be the author of this beautiful guide.

This guide provides a thorough and easy to understand overview of how to plan a trip on the SHT from someone who did it the right way. It’s written for thru-hikers, but the information is useful for day hikers and overnight backpackers too.

Jaron Cramer, development and communications director of the superior hiking trail association
Welcome future thru-hikers!

Thru-hiking the first time Superior Hiking Trail changed my life. My gratitude for that experience spawned a desire to help others successfully thru-hike the trail. I channeled my experience as a long-distance backpacker and a former journalist to bring you a guide that will save you time, money, and stress.

How to plan your thru-hike

My guide offers advice on how to figure out how many miles to hike each day, how frequently you’ll need to resupply, analyses of the trail and the pros and cons of hiking northbound or southbound, and how to include the Duluth section of the trail, which many thru-hikers avoid due to the 54-mile stretch without free SHTA campsites.

The guide advises readers how to gauge their average hiking speed (miles per hour with breaks) and use that to inform their daily hiking goal.

Readers are also taught how to transform their daily hiking goal into estimating how frequently they will want to go into town for more supplies and food.

For the Duluth section of the trail, readers are given a listing of suggested accommodations, none further than 1.8 miles from the trail, along with list of contact information and prices.

“When people think ‘Minnesota,’ they don’t think ‘mountains,’ but after hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, that changes,” I write in the guide.

I give an analysis of the trail’s elevation changes and overall ruggedness by section to help hikers anticipate which stretches of trail will challenge them more, as well as the different logistics to hiking northbound or southbound.

“To maintain the frenetic pace of our everyday lives, it’s hard to avoid developing a frantic outlook on time. If you can force your mind to let go of worrying about deadlines and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, your confidence will grow with each step,” I write in the guide.

A Yellow Pages for the SHT

Save yourself weeks and months of researching what trail towns have a grocery store, laundromat, and post office. “Thru-Hike The Superior Hiking Trail” includes two charts of all the towns along the trail in both northbound (NOBO) and southbound (SOBO) order, as well as what amenities are available in town like grocery stores, post offices, laundromats, and even includes information like which stores carry which types of cooking fuels.

I believe this list is worth the purchase price alone due to the time it will save readers, as well as the flexibility it offers to thru-hikers while on trail.

Needing to change your plans due to weather, injury, or just hiking faster or slower than you anticipated is the norm, not the exception. Bringing this list with you during a thru-hike will make changing your plan easy and stress-free.

The list includes:

  • business addresses,
  • phone numbers,
  • websites,
  • hours of operation,
  • distances from the trail,
  • walking directions from the trail,
  • distances from the northern and southern terminuses,
  • other nearby businesses and organizations (churches, restaurants, etc.),
  • businesses that are willing to accept resupply boxes and how long they’re willing to hold them,
  • and much more!
Save yourself from attempting trail math with a bad case of “hiker brain”

During my second thru-hike of the SHT in 2019, I realized the thing I most wanted was just a list of the campsites on the trail, and the distances between them. The SHTA’s Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail is written for all kinds of hikers from day hikers to section hikers to thru-hikers. Many of the section descriptions include the mileage of spur trails. For example, the section between the Kadunce River Wayside to Judge Magney State Park included an extra .7 miles of spur trail that thru-hikers don’t hike unless they decide to go down the Kadunce River Wayside for some reason.

Calculating your mileage for the day involved adding up distances between campsites, which were spread out in the guide and involved a lot of flipping back and forth. The Superior Hiking Trail Association has since released a new Databook that includes a condensed list of the distances between campsites. I added a similar feature to the print version of my guide after my second thru-hike.

I love the new Databook and am a hiker who believes thru-hikers should acquire every available information resource ahead of their thru-hike. Knowledge is power and will increase your chances of having a successful thru-hike. The one way my campsite list differs compared to the Databook is that I include a list for both northbound and southbound hikers whereas the SHTA’s Databook’s list goes southbound only. It’s pretty easy to do the math, but it’s still requires northbound thru-hikers to do trail math with hiker brain, a profound loss of cognitive function due to hiking-induced fatigue. The struggle is real. I always joke that my IQ drops 50 points by the end of a week on trail.

Additional features
  • Navigating the trail
  • Safety information specific to the conditions and dangers you’ll face on the Superior Hiking Trail (including interviews with local Search and Rescue squads with decades of experience in the area)
  • Advice on how to complete a “Total Thru-Hike” and include the Duluth section of the trail, which does not have free campsites (including suggested itineraries and accommodations for people hiking 10 and 20 miles per day)
  • Transportation to, from and on the trail
  • Gear recommendations
  • Tips for coping with bugs and wildlife
  • Tips for easily following the Leave No Trace Seven Principles
  • Stories from author Annie Nelson’s 2017 and 2019 thru-hikes
  • and much more!
A thru-hike can gift a profound connection to nature

“I learned a lot of practical things on trail: how to manage being plagued by bugs, keep my body happy, and throw a bear bag rope with precision. I learned that I love to hike in the rain when I’d dreaded the idea, that the night noises of the woods become as familiar as the creaking of an old house. I reveled in the capability of my body to wander great distances.

“I also gained a powerful connection with nature that I suspect will shape the rest of my life,” I write in the guide.

I want you to thru-hike the Superior Hiking Trail and fall ferociously in love with the Northwoods. I want you to lust for the trail like I do. My reconnection with nature has added incredible meaning to my life. I wish that for you too.

I also hope you to become a powerful advocate for this trail. I want you to donate to the SHTA, and come to view lopping brush as an act of trail magic. I hope you help all of us who love this trail protect it for generations to come. That’s why I’m always available to any would-be thru-hikers. If you have any questions about this guide or about thru-hiking, please send me an email through this website.

“This book is worth every penny and then some. I see questions posted all the time in online forums that Ms. Nelson answers in this book, and answers better than most online responses do. (…) It’s proving far more helpful than I imagined.”

Todd Mitchell, Canby, Minn., 2019 SHT thru-hiker

2 Comments on “SHT Thru-Hiking Guide now available in Print

  1. That is so cool Annie, congratulations I know this means a lot to you and it’s going to mean a lot to new people that are just getting into the backpacking world.I highly recommend the book to everyone that I talk to and I can’t wait to get a copy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: