I am probably biased as a homegrown Minnesotan but I think Minnesota is one of the best places in the US to live. Okay, I don’t like the short, cold days of winter but at least that is a beautiful time of year. There are many great places around the state but by far my favorite places are the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the North Shore of Lake Superior. I don’t think this area gets the national recognition that it deserves but perhaps that is a good thing. It has retained some of that small town American charm in an incredibly beautiful place.
Part 2 (this blog post) focuses on the waterfalls of the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Part 3 will focus on everything else we saw along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
On my trip home in June we didn’t go to the BWCA but instead we spent a lot of time visiting the state parks and the lakeshore. As a child we took many trips to the BWCA but aside from Gooseberry Falls we didn’t really stop at the state parks. I had no idea that there were so many state parks and that each of them was so peaceful. Both Waterfalls of Minnesota and Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore and More are great guidebooks and each provided a lot of help planning my trip. I wasn’t able to visit all of the waterfalls or state parks along the north shore but I plan on taking many more trips home.
1. Gooseberry Falls was always one of stops coming back from the BWCA when I was a child. Sometimes we went swimming or sometimes we just stopped to stretch our legs. Since then they have built a new visitor center and a walking bridge under the Hwy 61 bridge. You can now do an easy (some stairs) 1 hour loop and see the 3 tiers of waterfalls. There is also a great picnic area down by Lake Superior and many longer hiking and biking trails.
2. Beaver River Falls is one of Hwy 61’s biggest roadside waterfalls. This is a great waterfall for those that don’t feel like hiking. You are able to get out of your car and stand on the bridge to view the falls although there are some steep trails that lead down to the water.
3. High Falls on the Baptism River is an impressive waterfall located at Tettegouche State Park. Gooseberry Falls gets all of the visitors but this one is a little harder to get to with fewer visitors. The trail leads to a viewpoint directly on top of the waterfall and then there are stairs that take you to the base of the waterfall where you can swim. Hikers can also visit Two Step Falls on a short detour back to the car.
4. Cross River Falls is another of Hwy 61’s roadside waterfalls near the Temperance River. This is the view from the Hwy 61 bridge but there are more waterfalls upstream for hikers.
5. Temperance River State Park‘s best waterfall inside a narrow gorge. The best views of the waterfall are actually from the top where the water disappears into the gorge. There are several other small waterfalls but this is a beautiful river hike. There is also a stunning view of a small bay with steep cliffs at the mouth of the Temperance River.
6. Cascade River State Park is a series of nice waterfalls with steep cliffs that is easy to access from Hwy 61. Like many of the state parks along the north shore it connects to the Superior Hiking Trail. We hiked along the river from the state park to county road 45 and were picked up. This is a great intro to the Superior Hiking Trail and makes me want to plan a thru hike on the trail someday.
7. High Falls on the Pigeon River is a major waterfall that deserves recognition in top 50 US waterfall lists. The Pigeon River also forms the US/Canada border and the falls can be viewed from either country. One fascinating part of Grand Portage State Park and the High Falls is that it is a cooperative project with the Grand Portage Indian Reservation and the Minnesota State park system. It isn’t as convenient to get there but this is the best waterfall in Minnesota (albeit shared with Canada).
One of my friends commented that the waterfall looks like a giant bear giving the middle finger. Can you see it?