Weekend Explorer - The North Shore of Lake Superior

What do you do when you have a weekend off, time to kill, and a yearning desire for adventure? Well if you're a Minneapolis resident, then Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior are your places to visit.

Published by Guest on 13/01/2016

At just under a 3 hour drive away from the cities, you can be immersed in a vast wonderland of photogenic beauty and wilderness culture. Minnesota may not have an ocean, but we have our own inland sea: Lake Superior. Whether you visit during the summertime or wintertime, you will be blown away by what we Minneapolitans call, “The North Shore.” City Correspondent, Connor, takes us on a visual tour of this stunning stretch of land. 

Lets start by heading up Highway 35 north up to the beautiful port city of Duluth. You can visit Park Point, a nice sandy beach overlooking the gorgeous Canal Park Lighthouse. 

That's not where the fun begins though. The fun begins just past the city, where Highway 35 becomes Highway 61 (there’s a reason Bob Dylan named a song after this iconic highway!). 

Follow the coast north from the city on Hwy 61 and right away you'll run into Brighton Beach on Kitchi-Gammi Park. Brighton Beach isn't your everyday sandy beach; rather, it is covered in wet, smooth, black rocks that glimmer in the sun's rays during the day. During the winter, it’s a perfect place to view the lake’s crazy ice formations. But - be forewarned - the rocks can get very slippery. 

As you head up the Superior coast, there is practically a State Park every few miles and the Superior Hiking Trail zig zags through the boreal forests on the inland side of Highway 61. Gooseberry Falls State Park is a popular destination and just past that, you will end up at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

This lighthouse is steeped in history and was integral in the prevention of ship wrecks on the mighty lake. Visiting the lighthouse is nice, but the real treat is the little road south of the lighthouse in the State Park which brings you to beautiful view of Split Rock Island; an island that is overlooked by the lighthouse that if just a little further up resting on a cliff.

Maybe a ten-minute drive northbound from Split Rock is a hidden gem that is very often overlooked. The Beaver River in the tiny tourist town of Beaver Bay has views that rival Gooseberry Falls.

Park your car near the agate shop right on the edge of town and hike down the trail and follow the stream that leads into Lake Superior up to some beautiful rapids. If it's not too icy, this is a worth while pit stop. 

Only a couple minutes past Beaver Bay on Hwy 61 is the real treat: Palisade Head, the largest rock formation on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The view is one of fairy tails.

The water is this blue color that you couldn't even think is possible in a lake. The drop is over 300 feet to the rocky bottom. The coastal cliffs go on seemingly forever. Feeling like you're on the top of the world is hands down the best taste of Minnesota I've had. 

Before you turn back there is one more stop. Luckily it's right across the highway about a half-mile north. Tettegouche State Park has some of the most beautiful waterfalls you'll see in Minnesota along the Baptism River.

Stop at the park visitor center before doing anything; the park guides outsmart Google Maps and Apple Maps and tell you the best way to take to get to the falls. Once parked, the hike to the High Falls is just under 2 miles roundtrip and well worth it to see this natural wonder, particularly in the winter when it’s half frozen and gorgeous. 

This mini road trip can easily be made on a weekend. Leave Saturday morning and spend the night in Duluth. Sunday morning, head up Highway 61 to see the rest. You can make it back to Minneapolis by nightfall.

All photos courtesy of siedowphoto.com

-Connor-

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