We're heading up to Bear Head Lake State Park near Ely next weekend. I'm STOKED because I haven't been there since I roughed it 20 years ago in the Boundary Waters! We're going to stop in Duluth for lunch (torn between Gordy's Hi Hat and New Scenic Cafe, right!?) and are looking for any great hikes off the beaten path. We've hiked all the state parks from the cities to Canada on the North Shore, but I'm wondering if there are any (un)hidden gems we should hike this trip? We can either cut straight up from Cloquet (via Virginia or Aurora) or we could drive up to Silver Bay and cut up on Hwy 1. Any thoughts? The only thing I'm seeing is Soudan Underground Mine, but may turn that into a day trip instead.
We're taking a whole day to drive up and hike, in no hurry other than to have have camp set up before dark. Really interested in seeing colors, so I'm leaning towards Hwy 1, but am unfamiliar with the area. Probably don't want to go that route on the way home due to weekend tourist traffic jams. I'd love some expert advice!