On the north side of the Pincushion parking lot, head up past the large Pincushion Recreation Area sign to a convergence of several trails. Here you'll see the main mountain bike "trailhead" sign and the Talus Trail
trailhead. Take the wide, grassy trail to the right of Talus heading east past the parking lot. At the top of the short hill just after the parking lot you have the option to continue straight to run the loop clockwise (described here) or turn right to go south past the parking lot and run the loop counter clockwise (or to pick up Rift
Trail). Welcome to Rock and a Hard Place.
The first few hundred yards are a grassy but rocky gentle descent. Once it diverges from ski and snowshoe trails, the trail dips into the woods and follows the north edge of a ridge top, still generally downhill and rocky with a few scattered boulders to avoid. Just before breaking out of the woods at the east end of the ridge, there is a small step-down rock onto a wooden bridge, so be prepared. The ridge-top meadow offers great views of Lake Superior and the shoreline to the north, and here the trail doubles back to the west and descends a bit more before turning up for the climb back to the parking lot.
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