Eight state parks are located along Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior. Find a list of the parks below, beginning with the parks closest to Duluth and ending with Grand Portage, the park closest to the Canadian border.
Cascade River State Park
Cascade River State Park is a gorgeous area centered around a rushing river that runs through its entirety. Many large and small falls line the length of the rocky, volcanic gorge covered in moss and ferns. As it is only 8 miles south of Grand Marais it is an attraction you can’t miss. When you visit try these five things to take advantage of all the park has to offer.
1. Fish: Cascade River is known for its fruitful and picturesque fishing spots. If the river leaves you empty-handed Lake Superior is on the other side of the highway. Steelhead, brook trout and salmon are the most common fish to snag in this park.
2. Take a Hike: The Park has trails going up both sides of the river to cover over 18 miles of beautiful one of a kind trails. Take a long or short hike to one of the several incredible locations including Lake Superior, Lookout Mountain, and Cascade Falls.
3. View the Rushing Waterfalls: The River’s unique stair-stepping waterfalls are what give it the name Cascade. With several bridges to watch the different falls from you can enjoy all the views that the park has to offer.
4. Grab Your Skis and Hit the Trails: The park also boasts about 27 kilometers of trails for all ability levels. With more than enough trails at the moderate and advanced difficulty level, it is hard to get bored with what this scenic area provides.
5. BirdWatch: There are many types of birds that live in and around the park throughout the year. Print off a birding checklist for the state park, grab a pair of binoculars and make your way to one of the trailheads.
George H. Crosby Manitou State Park
George Crosby Manitou Park is a limited development park on the North Shore. Because of the remote location, it is one of the least trafficked parks on the entire North Shore. With very few visitors the park offers the perfect to see all sorts of local wildlife like bears, wolves, moose, deer, otters, beavers, and squirrels. The park’s main attractions are Benson Lake, Manitou River Cascades, and world-class hiking trails.
Top Five Things to do at George Crosby Manitou State Park
Hiking: The park boasts 23 miles of gorgeous trails that include a little more than 5 miles of The Superior Hiking Trail. The trails have been named by many as the best backcountry trails in the Minnesota State Park System. The trails cover all sorts of terrain from old-growth forests to steep and rough terrain paralleling the Manitou River. While the trails are difficult the overlooks and scenery are well worth the effort.
Picnic on Benson Lake: Pack a bag with snacks and walk about ¼ of a mile on the northeast side of Benson Lake and enjoy a meal at the walk-in picnic area.
View the Manitou River Cascades: Watch the scenic Manitou Cascades rush down age-old volcanic rock lined by stands of spruce, fir, and cedar.
Fishing: Grab a pole and try your luck at trout fishing on Benson Lake. The lake has a no motor policy so you will enjoy a peaceful time on the lake whether you choose to paddle or sit on the bank.
Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing is allowed in the park and is an awesome way to see all that the park has to offer. Check out the Manitou Cascades in the winter for a different perspective of the falls.
Note: Roads in the park are not plowed during the winter, so visitors may need to snowshoe in from County Road 7 if the snow is deep.
Getting There: To get to Crosby Manitou State Park from Schroeder: Turn right (away from Lake Superior) onto Cramer Road. Follow Cramer Road for approximately 6 miles and continue on to County Road 8. When the road comes to a T, turn left onto Cramer Road. Drive approximately 4 miles and turn left onto Benson Lake Road.
Gooseberry Falls State Park
One of the most popular parks in Minnesota, Gooseberry Falls State Park, is visited by a huge number of those visiting the North Shore. Often called the “Gateway to the North Shore” the park allows visitors to get a taste of all that our area has to offer. Of all the many things to do there though these are our top 5:
- View the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls of the Gooseberry River as it cascades through a steep, rocky gorge. A short hike from the visitor’s center will you a bridge with scenic overlooks of the river. If you want to see more falls continue past the bridge.
- Take a self-guided tour of the historic Civilian Conservation Corps area. The tour features the original bridge and buildings of the CCC camp. All are on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
- Picnic on the Picnic Flow. When you are finished eating, explore the ancient lava flow that was formed over a billion years ago. The basalt flows that created the Picnic Flow are the same types of lava flows that created the famous Lake Superior Agates.
- Visit Agate Beach, the sandbar at the mouth of the Gooseberry River. The sandbar seems as though it’s a living-breathing being as it changes shape and evolves slowly throughout the year.
- Attend a naturalist program. Interesting programs are offered at the state park throughout the year. Topics range from park geology to geocaching, to snowshoeing, to birding. Call the park at 218-595-7100 for information on upcoming programs.
Grand Portage State Park
The home to the highest waterfall in Minnesota Grand Portage State Park also features the trail carved by Native Americans known before as Grand Portage. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Grand Portage State Park:
Hike the Pigeon River: Visitors can hike along the beautiful Pigeon River which has plenty of scenic overlooks as well as wildlife to view.
Visit the Welcome Center: The beautiful welcome center was designed in part by the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe. Look for the bright turtle on the lobby floor that represents creation and migration.
Mountain Bike: There are 12 miles of dirt trail that is perfect for experts and beginners alike. The trail offers plenty of scenic views you don’t want to miss.
Go Birding: Print a bird checklist for Grand Portage State Park and try and to spot some of the elegant birds such as the Savannah Sparrow and the Dark-eyed Junco.
Hike to the High Falls Overlook: There are 4 beautiful, well-maintained miles of trails that cover a wide swath of the park. This includes the most popular half-mile trail to the boardwalk overlook of high falls. If you want to see some of the lesser tracked trails go to the middle falls.
Snowshoe: Grab some snowshoes at the visitor’s center during the winter and shoe your way down the snowy half-mile to see high falls in the winter.
Judge C.R. Magney State Park
Judge C.R. Magney State Park, located 14 miles northeast of Grand Marais, is home of the famous Devil’s Kettle waterfall. It is also known for its perfect trout fishing spots and excellent trails for hikers.
Below are a few things you’ll want to do when you visit the park.
Visit Devil’s Kettle: The Park is most known for the mysterious Devil’s Kettle. At one point along the Brule River, it splits with one half flowing downstream and the other disappearing, seemingly forever, into a deep cavern, the kettle. Though many have tried to determine where the water comes out no one knows for sure despite the many theories you may hear. The Brule River also features the stunning upper and lower falls. Make sure you don’t miss these on your visit.
Fish the Brule River. The Brule River is packed with brook with and rainbow trout. If you’re lucky you might even catch a chinook salmon. Some anglers have even said that they have caught small-mouth bass and northern pike that have entered from the lakes upstream.
Enjoy a Scenic Hike: With a variety of trails from 9 miles of riverside trails to Superior Hiking Trail Access there is enough to entertain every visitor.
Picnic Along the Brule River: On your visit make sure to stop by the beautiful picnic area to take in the views and enjoy a relaxing lunch next to the rushing Brule River.
Snowshoe Through the Park: During the winter strap on a pair of snowshoes and hike the same trails as during the summer from a different perspective. Take a look at the icy falls as you make the best of your cold weather.
Getting There: To get to the park from Grand Marais, drive northeast on Highway 61 for 14 miles until you see signs for the park. The park address is 4051 MN-61, Grand Marais.
Temperance River State Park
Temperance River State Park is a unique park with a trail that winds along the edge of the Temperance River. The park has plenty of hiking trails and beautiful scenery. Located between the communities of Schroeder and Tofte, visiting this state park should be at the top of your North Shore to do list. Above all, you’ll want to experience the following things:
Hike to the Hidden Falls: With trails winding along both sides of the beautiful Temperance River, taking this hike is a no-brainer. Hike the trail to the Hidden Falls or the Superior National Forest and be ready for some beautiful scenery along the way.
Go Rock Climbing on Carlton Peak: Conquer your fear of heights by climbing Carlton Peak which offers over two dozen climbs in the 60-80 foot range. Pick up a required free climbing permit at the visitor center and enjoy the adventure.
View the Waterfall South of Highway 61: Visit the waterfall that cut a gorge just south of Highway 61. This beautiful waterfall is one of the park’s most significant attractions.
Grab Some Binoculars and Go Birding: Don’t forget the bird checklist as you to try spot different kinds of warblers and sparrows. Temperance River State Park has been known for its wide variety of birds that live in the area and that fly through during spring and fall migration.
Enjoy Cross-Country Skiing or Snowshoeing: During the winter, enjoy activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The park offers a variety of groomed and un-groomed trails that are perfect for a day filled with winter fun.
The state park entrance is one mile northeast of Schroeder on MN Highway 61 (7620 West Hwy 61, Schroeder, MN 55613). For more information about Temperance River State Park, call the Tettegouche State Park office at (218) 353-8800 or email [email protected]
A Temperance River State Park map is available here.
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