Mount Josephine

Roundtrip:  5km

Difficulty: Moderate

Location: Grand Portage, MN

Click here for Google Map.

This is a fairly strenuous hike to the top of Mount Josephine where you will have views of Lake Superior, Wauswaugoning Bay, Pigeon Point, Isle Royale, and the Susie Islands.

Mount Josephine is one of the peaks in the Sawtooth Mountains of northeastern Minnesota and is located in the Grand Portage Reservation.  Be prepared for rough and slippery surfaces, especially on ledge rock.

At the Village of Grand Portage turn toward the lake down County Road 17.  Follow CR 17 east, past the fort and the town for about 2.4km and look for a small sign reading ‘Mount Josephine’ on the left (north) side for the small parking area.

From the parking area, the trail begins on a two-track road that runs parallel to CO 17.  After about 400m take the trail on the left that heads into the woods.  The hiking trail climbs 200 metres from the road to the site of a former fire tower.  You will see the stone base of the tower and metal parts from the tower strewn about the woods as you hike across the top to take in the views.

Many people only go as far as the lookouts near the old fire tower.  But the trail does continue on all the way to the famous Witch Tree at the end of Hat Point.  The Witch Tree is said to be one of the worlds smallest and oldest trees. It is mentioned in journals that date back to the 1790’s suggesting that this tree is over 300 years old.

See the google map link above for an alternate route that can be taken from the side of highway 61 to the top of Mt Josephine.


Mt josephine

Author: superiorhiking

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  1. Great pics!

    The main route on the map you show to the top looks really different from the Mt. Josephine trail I hiked in summer of 2008. That one started at the same place, but went much further along the flats before a really brutal climb up to a shoulder S and E of the summit ridge. I wonder if we were on different trails?

  2. Hi Andrew. I think we might have been on different trails. I know there are a few ways to get up there. Next time I’m in the area I’ll try going the way you went. Susan.

  3. I’ll do the same thing with your route. Maybe there’s a loop trail to do.

  4. I’d like to add to the directions to find the parking area. It’s on the left side of the road, not the right, as you’re headed away from the village. Look for the water-treatment plant on the right and the parking area is just past it on the left. The sign is almost impossible to see but there is a blue fire-number sign, #183, that is readily visible. It’s a strenuous but rewarding hike. Wear good shoes.

  5. Thanks for your comment and good directions Jack! I corrected my mistake of right instead of left!

  6. We enjoy the north shore of Minnesota, and try to come here every year. This was a great hike on a warm fall day. Finding the parking area took a few minutes as the small sign is laying in the ditch. We walked a half mile until we reached the summit sign. At times the trail was overgrown but easy to find. Great view at the top and as a bonus a hungry chipmunk that definitely has been feed before! Great Hike.

  7. This was a great hike with beautiful views even my 6 year old hiked up it and was very excited when he got to the top. The chipmunk was still there to greet us. We could not find the path to the witches tree is it still there or off limits?

  8. Please remove any mention of the ‘Witch Tree’. It is NOT open to the public. It may be visited ONLY with an escort by a member of the Grand Portage Band.

    Thank you.

  9. Knowing to look for that #183 sign on the left just at the edge of the water treatment station is the key to finding the starting point, as the Mount Josephine sign does not exist any longer. We used directions from a 16-year old book so there was no point in being surprised that changes happen. The rest of the trail was just as described here and elsewhere and was as beautiful as advertised.

  10. I would so like to see any photos you would send this way. I miss this area whole heartily. When I was younger and in better health I never would of left. Miss that life…

  11. Any chance someone has a GPX/similar track I can grab for the map link above? Thank you for the information, I was struggling to find the trailhead!

  12. Just adding to the above, the Gaia app has the trail east of the primary from the map with a third trailhead. Now I’m confused again. 🙂

  13. Sharon, why is the tree off limits to see? And how would one get an escort?

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