Put a Little Spring in your Step with a Getaway to the North Shore

Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photo courtesy of BigStock/Firelite Photos
Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photo courtesy of BigStock/Firelite Photos

With the weather warming up and the sun staying in the sky longer and longer, it’s the perfect time of year to hit the trails and explore the beautiful Spring weather of the North Shore! Whether you’re into short hikes with stunning views, or longer, overnight camping trips, the North Shore has plenty to offer in the way of outdoor activities. The North Shore boasts three beautiful Minnesota State Parks along the North Shore of Lake Superior: Jay Cooke State Park, Gooseberry State Park, and Tettegouche State Park. There you can gaze at waterfalls and whooshing rapids with friends and family! And don’t forget your camera; these are memories you’ll want to savor for a lifetime.

Jay Cooke State Park is the perfect place to start your exploration of the North Shore. Park at the River Inn Visitor Area to check in and find all of the information you’ll need—and maybe some supplies from the gift shop if there’s anything missing from your list! Here you’ll find accessible parking and restrooms. The St. Louis River flows across pristine jagged rocks to create incredible rapids, so be sure to check them out. Don’t stop there, though. Cross the Swinging Bridge to see the stunning views of the rapids, hike the Carlton Trail or the CCC Trail or rent a kayak from the Kayak Center at the Thomas Damn/River Gorge area. Don’t forget your picnic basket with all your favorite snacks to bring to Oldenburg Point, and stay for a magical sunset over the river valley. Spring is also the perfect time to see some amazing wildlife, including many blooming flowers and migrating birds, headed back north for the summer.

Tettegouche State Park is only two hours away from Jay Cooke State Park and has majesties of its own to share this spring. Hike the hilly Cascades Trail to see the captivating Cascades Waterfalls at the end, or the Shovel Point Trail, which flaunts exactly 300 stair steps over the course of the trail, installed to protect the soils of the cliffs. Interested in a bit of a longer hike? The High Falls hike is a perfect option for you! A gentle hike on an incline, you’ll make it to the mouth of the Baptism River, and then it’s right back down the way you came. You can also pick the freshest sun-kissed berries, fish, canoe (for rent at Mic Mac Lake), and explore four sets of mesmerizing waterfalls in Tettegouche.

Shovel Point in Tettegouche State Park. Photo courtesy of BigStock/Ralf Broskvar

Just half an hour from Tettegouche is the lovely Gooseberry Falls State Park. Gooseberry Falls is the perfect place to set up camp. You can make a reservation HERE! Visit the Gitchi-Gami State Trail, where you can see a hardened lava flow. Gooseberry River is three miles long and includes five waterfalls, which plunge 240 feet into Lake Superior below and make a perfect backdrop for a family photo. For a short hike, visit the “Castle in the Park” or hike the Falls Loop, and for a longer excursion, Fifth Falls Trail or River View Trail are both exquisite options, and include views of the falls. Fifth Falls Trail also has caves to spot and lots of historical CCC features to take in. If a bike ride is more your style than a hike on foot, check out the paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail, which is 8-15 miles one way, depending on if you want to stop at Lighthouse State Park or the town of Beaver Bay.

To make sure your trip goes off without a hitch, make sure you pack waterproof hiking shoes with a good tread and an extra pair of socks (or two!) for the trails, which can be muddy from spring showers and the river. Nights can get chilly, even in the spring, so make sure you’re also prepared for the cold at night if you’re camping in one of the campsites. A hat and mittens might be a good idea to bring along. Always remember to check with the visitor center before starting your hike to make sure conditions are right for your hike. Not only do you want to have a great time, you want to be safe and respectful of all the nature of the North Shore.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign to say you should go spend your summer enjoying the beautiful nature the North Shore has to offer—this is it! Don’t wait! Enjoy the wilderness this spring: visit the North Shore State Parks now.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will open their State Parks for free on select dates this year. You can go to any State Park in Minnesota without paying entrance fees on April 22, June 10, September 9, and November 24. The entrance fee waiver does not include lodging, tours, and rentals at the State Parks.

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