North Shore, Minnesota
When most people think of Minnesota, myself included, I never pictured it as a destination that I would consider visiting over another even though I was born and raised here. It wasn’t until later in high school that I started exploring my own state after countless family vacations to destinations all over the country. During my visit home for Christmas in 2018 my high school friend Victoria and I decided to take an impromptu road trip to Minnesota’s north shore to check out some of the state parks I never got to see growing up.
Tettegouche State Park
Our first stop was Tettegouche State Park because neither myself or Victoria had ever been there. Tettegouche is one of the larger state parks in the area with around 23 miles of hiking trails. For all of the parks we were able to visit, Tettegouche was the only one where the visitor center required us to pay seven dollars to park in the parking lot while we went hiking. However, this parking fee is good for all Minnesota state parks within the given timeframe. The best hiking trail in my opinion was the short 1.4 mile out and back trail to Shovel Point along the coast of Lake Superior. You wouldn’t expect scenic sea cliffs along the lake, but this was one of the best surprises to me. After exploring some of the cliffs and a few beaches we hiked over to the opposite side of the park to check out a few waterfalls up the Baptism River. From the visitor center it was only 3 miles out and back to hike Two Step and High Falls. Going back I would definitely skip Two Step Falls because I didn’t think it was anything special, but High Falls is a must do.
Gooseberry Falls State Park
We spent most of our time in Tettegouche, but still wanted to check out one more park with the short amount of daylight we had during the Minnesota winter. A few miles heading back heading toward Duluth and past Beaver Bay is a much smaller state park called Gooseberry Falls. Gooseberry Falls is a much smaller park in comparison to Tettegouche; the main attraction being a short hike around the falls. In late December the falls were mostly frozen with a good amount of free flowing water under the ice and a little down the middle of a few drops. This made for some fun exploring as we were able to walk right up to one of the frozen falls for a different perspective. While the main attraction is the falls, on the opposite side of Highway 61 is a connection to the 310 mile Superior Hiking Trail if you are looking to do some more exploring. For me and most people that will have to be another day and another post. If you are looking for more to do than just the falls this may be a good option or another state park along Highway 61.
As I mentioned earlier because of the short amount of daylight I’ll have to come back to do some more exploring because we were only able to spend time in two of the many parks and forests in the area. Having been born and raised in Minnesota there will always be a reason to come back, and hopefully next time in the summer. This post will be updated after future visits.
Being that these parks are open year round, the ice on the trails can be very dangerous during the winter months. There was a section so bad that the best option was to leave the trail and cut through the woods because I had just taken a very bad fall hiking the same section on the way to the falls. We were also able to walk out on a few of the rivers, but be very aware of how thick the ice is. Falling through ice over moving water can have much worse consequences than if it were a lake or pond. Lastly, use caution along the cliffs in any area of the north shore especially when it may be icy. I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INJURY, LOST INDIVIDUALS, OR LEGAL TROUBLE ENCOUNTERED WHILE FOLLOWING THE INFORMATION POSTED HERE.
As always find the most up to date information and conditions on the official state park websites.