Minnesota is known for it's water ways. The mighty Mississippi starts here, we have over 10,000 lakes, and a part of the state lines up with Lake Superior. But that isn't our only geological feature.

Minnesota is home to the Sawtooth Mountains, up on the North Shore.

The Sawtooth Mountains are a range of hills or small mountains on the North Shore of Lake Superior in the U.S. state of Minnesota, extending about 30 miles from Carlton Peak near Tofte on the west, to Grand Marais on the east.

So how did the name "Sawtooths" come about? Well the hills themselves rise from the lake pretty gradually at angles between 8 and 20 degrees, and then drop off steeply on their north sides. They are relatively uniform in size and spacing, and when you look at their profiles down the coast line, they resemble the teeth of a saw blade.


Some notable peaks in the range include:

  • Pincushion Mountain - Features a nine-mile out-and-back hike.From the top you get a panoramic view of the Sawtooth Mountains, Lake Superior, the harbor, and lighthouse of Grand Marais.
  • Carlton Peak - Named on a geological survey expedition in 1848
  • Mount Northrop - Named after the president of the U of M from 1884 -1911
  • Disappointment Mountain - Shares a name with nearby Dissappointment Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

The Sawtooths definitely are no Rocky Mountains, but they do offer spectacular hiking, views, and habitat for wildlife. There are numerous sites to behold at different parks and forests throughout the Sawtooths like:

  • Cascade River State Park
  • Judge C.R. Magney State Park
  • Superior Hiking Trail
  • Superior National Forest
  • Lutsen Mountain Ski Resort

Now if you'll excuse me, my hiking boots and Northern Minnesota are calling my name!

Matthew Breiter Photography
Matthew Breiter Photography


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