Misbehaving hikers lead landowner to close part of Superior Hiking Trail

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A property owner along the Superior Hiking Trail near Gooseberry Falls State Park is so fed up with the behavior of some of the hikers who cross his land that he's decided to kick the trail off his property beginning May 1, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

That means officials need to come up with a detour for the 1.6-mile gap in the trail, just as the hiking season ramps up.

Randy Bowe told the News Tribune he's had problems with hikers littering and trespassing on his land. He has shooed away people who have set up camp or started campfires on his property, even though it's clearly marked "private."

He also told the paper he's been "cussed out" by hikers for riding an ATV on his own land, and a group of hikers harassed a friend of his while he was bow hunting on the property last fall.

The Superior Hiking Trail is a 296-mile foot path that largely follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior on Minnesota's North Shore, from Duluth to the Canadian border, and it's quite popular with visitors, especially in the warmer months.

Most of the land is publicly owned, but the trail crosses about 50 privately owned parcels, according to the Lake County News Chronicle.

Most of those landowners have granted permanent easements for the trail. Some of them simply give permission for access to their land, and they can rescind that approval – as Bowe has decided to do, according to the News Tribune.

"It's very rare for this to happen," Gayle Coyer, executive director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association, told the News Chronicle. Since the trail was completed in 1998, no other private landowners have withdrawn their permission, she said.

Bowe, who owns a taxidermy shop in Duluth and is an avid hunter, praised the association for trying its best to address the situation.

"But it’s our property, and we shouldn’t have to run into this when we use it,” he told the News Tribune.

This section of the trail runs north of Gooseberry Falls State Park, on the way to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

Coyer calls the situation "unfortunate," because it's a popular stretch of the trail. She told the News Tribune a temporary detour is already in place, and the trail association is in the process of finding a permanent reroute of the trail.

She said the detours will be ready and clearly marked for hikers by May 1.

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