Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
269.00 ft (81.99 m)
Trail type
2.20 mi (3.54 km)
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The Aiton Heights Fire Tower was erected in the 1920s by the Minnesota Division of Forestry. In 1937 the tower was moved to Itasca to aid in fire detection and to provide education for visitors. The trail is a 2.2-mile in-and-out route. It starts either at Douglas Lodge or the designated parking lot for the trailhead. Most park employees will recommend the Douglas Lodge parking lot and going from there. If you choose to do that, follow the Deer Path Trail to the tower. The trail starts in a more decidous portion of Minnesota forest, an as you get closer to the lakes near the fire tower you'll start to arrive in a slightly thicker forest comprised of decidous and coniferous trees. The trail has a moderate and consistent elevation at the start. About half way into the hike the grade starts to level off until you reach the hill with the fire tower. Then it's another gradual climb toward the tower. As far as central Minnesota elevation gains goes, this is by no means strenuous. This hike could be done by anyone of any skill level.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round



Great views from the tower. Beautiful autumn colors. Good, quick hike. Some portions have nice wide paths for family hikes.


Only six people allowed on the fire tower at a time. Congested days are difficult to get on the tower. Decent winds make the tower feel uneasy.

Trailhead Elevation

1,499.00 ft (456.90 m)

Highest point

1,667.00 ft (508.10 m)


Historically significant
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Bird watching
Family friendly
Near lake or river

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures


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