Luke and I had a chance to go to the North Shore for our anniversary a couple weeks ago, and we leapt at the opportunity. The North Shore is one of our favorite places, and the fall colors up north are breathtaking. The fall colors were near peak and though it was cold, it was sunny and glorious. Visiting the North Shore in the fall was on our list of adventures for 2016, and I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for months. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, and I’ve been dying to share some photos from our trip!
Overlooking Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake, the North Shore stretches from Duluth to the Canadian Border. The North Shore is saturated with state parks, and with stunning vistas, rocky beaches, raging rivers and waterfalls, it is easy to see why. Lace up your hiking boots- you’re in for an adventure.
We left Minneapolis early Friday morning, arriving in Duluth in time for lunch. After a quick meal, we put on our hiking boots and headed for our favorite state parks. We have a Minnesota State Parks Pass, an investment that quickly paid for itself. The cost of the pass is equal to 5 park day passes, and we’ve been getting our money’s worth this year! Minnesota residents, if you aren’t taking advantage of our state park system, you’re missing out.
Gooseberry Falls State Park is about an hour north of Duluth and one of the most popular stops. The park has a large visitor center and is handicap accessible, which makes Gooseberry a popular stop for families. And look at this waterfall! After spending the morning in the car, we were thankful for a chance to get out of the car and stretch our legs.
As usual, Gooseberry was very crowded, and we decided to keep our visit fairly short. We’ve both been to Gooseberry more times than we can count (between family vacations, field trips and youth group retreats), but we can’t resist seeing the falls! If you’ve never been to Gooseberry, there are plenty of places to explore. The falls are divided into three levels (upper, middle and lower), and there are 20 miles of hiking trails throughout the park, with more waterfalls along the way.
Split Rock State Park was not originally on our itinerary. We saw the sign for the park, and turned in on a whim. Split Rock Lighthouse is a well known landmark, and Split Rock State Park has the best views of the lighthouse. We couldn’t believe that we had the entire beach to ourselves! There were several groups touring the lighthouse, but we only saw one other group during our time in the state park. What a treat to have this beautiful area all to ourselves.
Can you believe we had this view all to ourselves?
Tettegouche may be my favorite state park. I feel in love with Tettegouche in the summer, but Tettegouche is even more beautiful in the fall. Tettegouche State Park has incredible views over Lake Superior, and this time, we headed inland to hike to High Falls. The trail was short and very steep, but the views and colors were absolutely worth it.
This is the face Luke made when I asked him not to go any closer to the edge. It was a long way down!
Our detour to Split Rock cost us time at Tettegouche, so we headed back on Sunday morning to spend a few more hours in the park. First was Palisade Head, a vista point easily missed if you are unfamiliar with the park. My brother brought me to Palisade a few summers ago, and it has quickly become my favorite spot in the park. There are no trails at Palisade Head- just a winding road, large rocks and sheer cliffs looking over Lake Superior. The view from Palisade Head is nothing short of incredible.
Sorry, Mom. I was a little too close to the edge, but this angle makes it look like I’m about to fall right in. Palisade Head is an amazing place, but there are no railings and sheer cliffs everywhere. Climb carefully!
From Palisade, we made our way back to the park’s main entrance and hiked the well-loved trail to Shovel Point. This area of the park is one of the most traveled and is a popular destination for rock climbers. Of all the parks we visited, the hike to Shovel Point had the best fall colors. I could spend hours walking up and down this trail, stopping at every turn to admire the view. Absolutely breathtaking.
View from Shovel Point
Just a glimpse of Lake Superior through the trees. This photo is unedited (with the exception of the watermark)- the water really was that brilliant shade of blue. We could have stayed for a week and still left trails unexplored. We hope to visit again soon and hike deeper into Tettegouche and explore more parks further North. Our trip was short and sweet, and we managed to squeeze three state parks into one weekend. All in all, a wonderful trip!
Happy Anniversary, Luke! Two years down, many more adventures to come.