08 November 2012

Around the Sioux Hustler Trail: The Facts

Small map of Entry Point 15- Sioux Hustler Trail
 A few weeks ago my friend Man of 3 Names I journeyed up to the BWCA to embark on an adventure. With it being October and the weather not always cooperative at that time of year (although in the past I have had some great October trips), I planned a rugged hiking trip. Our goal: hike the entire Sioux Hustler Loop. The challenge: the ~32 mile trail does not get much maintenance and is at best primitive. 3 Names and I were up to the challenge.

To the best of my knowledge and research- the Sioux Hustler Trail in some form has been in existence since at least before the Civilian Conservation Corps were working in the Superior National Forest. Part of it may even been hewn in the early part of the 1900s for use in fire spotting. I found an interesting and informative article about the wilderness fire towers off the Echo Trail here: http://www.kjackson.us/articles/ThreeWilderness.pdf
The article describes 3 fire towers including the one on the Little Sioux River above Devil's Cascade. The part of the trail that leads to the tower may very well have started as the path of the telephone line that ran to the tower. Eventually a cabin was built near the tower so I suspect the path may have been improved.
I can only assume that the rest of the trail was used for forest purposes as I can find no data concerning logging activity occurring in the immediate vicinity of the trail.

Overview of current Sioux Hustler Trail
 The 1960s the tower and cabin were dismantled but the trail was marked on a map I have from the same period. However, this map has the trail much larger than it exists today. In fact this map has the loop portion beginning and ending near the Echo Trail as opposed to the loop portion beginning about a mile south of the Devil's Cascade campsite. Still there is a trail which may have connected eastern portion of the current Sioux Hustler not far from the trailhead.

I surmise that between the 70s and 80s- during the swell of hiking enthusiasm in the US- the trail received a little bit of maintenance. Today the trail's western portion receives the most attention. The parts north and east of the Devil's Cascade get very little attention.
Most of the trail exists within the BWCA, so a permit is needed and fortunately between October and May- the permits are free. To get to the trail head you need to head up the Echo Trail- either from Ely or Buyck. The trailhead parking lot is marked and is Entry Point 15 it is just east of the Little Sioux Indian entry Point.

There is very little detail about the trail online. I discovered only a handful of articles. I am not sure even the Boundary Waters Journal has had an article about the Sioux Hustler. The Kekekabic Trail gets much more attention and even its own club. Best information is from a Canadian- http://pemmican.tannerpages.com/wiki/Sioux_Hustler_Hiking_Trail
But even some of that information is incomplete but did post photos to most of the campsites.
Goto Part 2: Depature

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rugged is an apt description. We often found ourselves crawling under fallen trees on our hands and knees just to make forward progress.