The route of this hike follows several different trails. The first is the trail from Lake Jeanette to Maude Lake. Between Jeanette Lake and Nigh Lake this trail is also a portage route. The second trail is the northern section of the Astrid Lake Loop; and the third is the Nigh-Pauline Lakes Loop. All of the intersections along the way have a sign post indicating trail directions.
Once on the south side of the Echo Trail, the route follows the well-groomed portage trail, passing through the spruce bog and traversing a small hill before reaching Nigh Lake. Beyond Nigh Lake, the path is narrower and more rugged. It gradually ascends to a jack pine-oak capped ridge where you will find the intersection that is the start of the circuit portion of the hike. Following the trail leading southwest to Maude Lake by way of Astrid Lake, the route continues along a series of ridges often crossing rock outcroppings that force openings in the canopy overhead. At one point the trail passes fire-scarred stumps and snags, evidence of a fire that swept the area almost 100 years ago. The forest is constantly shifting from one type to another, much like a day when the weather seems unsettled and the clouds come and go, alternating with the sunshine.
At Astrid Lake, the route turns north up the east side of Astrid Lake and passes the first of the two campsites. They both have a picnic table, fire grate, toilet, and small sandy beach just right for swimming. At the northeast corner of Astrid Lake, the route intersects the 0.9 mile Nigh-Pauline Lakes Loop which continues north to a short portage trail between the two lakes. At the portage you will find the second campsite. After making a short jog to the east, the loop turns south, passes a small waterfall, and ascends to rejoin the Astrid Lake Trail at a point 0.25 miles east of where it left it.
Continuing to ascend, the route now heads east and then north to complete the circuit. But before the circuit is closed you will come to an overlook. From here you will get views to the north of the Superior National Forest stretching into the distance ridge after ridge, and of Nigh Lake nestled in the trees below the overlook ridge. It’s a perfect spot to sit and catch the breeze and munch on some blueberries if they happen to be in season before starting the return leg of your journey back to the trailhead.
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