Gooseberry Falls State Park
In the summer, Gooseberry Falls State Park is a veritable hub of video camera wielding vacationers. For many this is the first stop along the way. Gooseberry Falls State Park is 39 miles from Duluth.
A must-see look over the bridge rewards sightseers with waterfalls on both sides. A short walk either up or down the river showcases the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls while a nice hike takes you on a loop that includes the Fifth Falls. Inside the beautiful visitors center are naturalist programs, interactive exhibits, restrooms, and a gift shop. The visitors center is the main trailhead in the park.
But Gooseberry Falls is hardly a one-season stop. Spring runoff and fall colors are grand, but the true splendor of the park comes through along the wintery cross-country ski trails. Trust me on this one.
Joseph N. Alexander Visitor Center
Open 9am-4pm year round with extended hours in the summer; offers theater and interpretive displays, restrooms, vending machines and a large, well-curated Nature Store gift shop. Adjacent Gateway Plaza has additional informative exhibits. The visitor center is also a Minnesota Wayside rest with restrooms open 24/7.
The park has two free electric vehicle charging stations in the visitor center parking lot.
A lobby area with a huge fireplace acts as a warming house for winter visitors.
The Lakeview Shelter has picnic tables, restroom facilities, a fireplace, and is suitable for picnics or receptions.
The Lady Slipper Lodge has benches and a fireplace and is suitable for programs or ceremonies.
Theater Rental is available during regular business hours (winter months only).
3206 MN 61 | Two Harbors
Gooseberry Falls Area Camping
State Park Campground
69 drive-in sites [no electric/many wooded] with 3 pull-through, 40' RV length limit; 4 accessible sites near accessible restrooms.
1 first-come, first-served kayak site ONLY for campers paddling the Lake Superior State Water Trail.
3 group sites [tent only; shared parking; rustic toilets; potable water nearby]
Seasonal accessible showers and flush toilets, and dump station. Accessible flush toilets in visitor center and vault toilets open year round.
Firewood for sale at campground in summer and visitor center in winter; ice for sale seasonally at campground.
3206 Highway 61 East | Two Harbors
Spring, Summer, Fall Activities
It’s a 4-for-1 waterfall stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park! Paved, accessible trails lead 1/10 mile from the visitor center to the most photographed of the falls, the expansive Middle Falls. The paved trails continue north under Highway 61 to a lovely view of the scenic Upper Falls. This wonderful little loop is a half mile total from the visitor center and back. The Riverview Trail heads south from the Middle Falls past the Lower Falls to the mouth of the Gooseberry River and Lake Superior. See the Fifth Falls entry for details on that hike. While quite spectacular during spring runoff, this quick-stop leg-stretcher is a must do on your North Shore visit.
While the fifth falls is the smallest waterfall at Gooseberry Falls State Park, it is a nice walk through the woods through the woods. The Fifth Falls Trail runs north along the east side of the meandering river slowly climbing to the base of the falls. The path leads up across the river to a nice scenic overlook before returning south, and downhill, along the west side of the river in a mile loop. In the winter, a there-and-back cross-country ski trail leads to the same falls and scenic overlook.
Gitchi Gami State Trail
Difficulty: easy to moderate [length], by section below
follows the old Highway 61 road bed where it wrapped around Silver Cliff; excellent views
Length: 0.5 mile one-way
Trailhead: Silver Creek Tunnel, NE end
Gooseberry Falls to Beaver Bay
The Visitors Center trailheads offer parking, restroom facilities and drinking water. Restaurants, restroom facilities and other amenities are available in Beaver Bay.
Length: 14.6 miles one-way
Trailheads: Gooseberry Falls State Park, Twin Points Wayside, Split Rock Lighthouse, Beaver River Trailhead
Beaver Bay to Silver Bay
trail runs parallel to the lakeshore inland along the side of the hill; starts east of Beaver Bay on West Road and ends at the Silver Bay Hockey Arena; does not connect to remainder of trail
Length: 2.3 miles one-way
Trailhead: Silver Bay Hockey Arena at 129 Outer Drive, Silver Bay
Schroeder to Lutsen – 1 mile trail gap requires crossing Hwy 61
ride the 3-mile trail through Temperance River State Park, over the river and back to Highway 61, where the trail ends, but you can carefully cross the highway, ride your bike down Tofte Park Road, along the Lakewalk and then pick up the 7.4 mile roadside trail that ends in Lutsen at the bottom of the Ski Hill Road
Length: 10.4 miles one-way
Trailheads: Schroeder Wayside, Tofte Park & Ski Hill Road
Schroeder to Tofte Map
Tofte to Lutsen Map
now open – new 3.7 mile corridor trail from Cut Face Wayside Rest east to existing trail into Grand Marais
Cut Face Creek Wayside Rest to Grand Marais
Highlights include the Fall River waterfall and river mouth views from a new bridge at the midpoint of the trail, Lake Superior views, small rock cuts and the big hill into Grand Marais. see the video of the trail above
For the full there-and-back ride, choose to ride the big hill first [depart from Grand Marais] or ride the hill the second half [depart from Cut Face]. For an easier 5.2-mile total ride, take off from Cut Face and ride to the Fall River bridge, then return the same route.
Length: 5.2 miles one-way
Trailhead: Cut Face Creek Wayside Rest or downtown Grand Marais
The beauty of of the park is steps from the Visitor Center, and sometimes on the way to the center, like these deer just off the path from the parking lot. A brief, paved, accessible path leads to the oft-photographed Middle Falls. Head south to view the Lower Falls or take a short accessible hike to the north, under Highway 61 that leads to the Upper Falls. This makes Gooseberry an ideal stop for everyone! Take advantage of the displays, restrooms and gift shop inside, then head to the river. The park has an abundance of inland trails, too.
Short, steep and so worth it, this trail ascends out of the parking lot. After a series of switchbacks, the trail parallels the ridge and rewards you with a Lake Superior view. Continue on to Wolf Rock for amazing wide-open vistas of the lake. Continue on to Gooseberry Falls State Park, or turn around, enjoy the descent and head to your next short hike!
Length: 9.4 miles one-way to Gooseberry Falls State Park
Difficulty: moderate [climb 472′ (217′ to Wolf Rock), descend 689′]
Amenities: Visitor center has restrooms, and during open hours a gift shop and exhibits
Length: 2+ miles
Difficulty: easy, partially paved
Virgin Pine and Cedar at Encampment Forest
Virgin Pine and Cedar at Encampment Forest, on Hwy 61 northeast of Two Harbors [drive by only, this is all private property]
Short, steep and so worth it, this trail ascends out of the parking lot. After a series of switchbacks, the trail parallels the ridge and rewards you with a Lake Superior view. Continue on to Wolf Rock for amazing wide-open vistas of the lake, then enjoy the descent!
Highlights: Wolf Rock, .5 mi from trailhead; great overlook of Lake Superior after a mildly steep climb; Crow Creek Valley, 1.3 mi from trailhead; Gooseberry River and Lake Superior, especially pretty during fall colors
From the main parking area, past the the old Interpretive Center on the east side of the river, this trail climbs the ridge and leads through the forest to the state trail.
Length: 9 mi
Cross Country Skiing
The 3.3K easy Lakeshore Loop winds through the campground area giving pleasant views of Lake Superior (a great trail for taking kids). The remainder of trails depart at the Visitor Center heading north under Highway 61 and are more difficult with most difficult portions,. These trails parallel the Gooseberry River past frozen waterfalls, skirt white pine ridges and allow exploration of the Park’s backcountry with a handful of interconnecting loops. ski .This is a superb system with trail diversity and scenic beauty.
The 2-mile Fifth Falls Trail climbs up through the woods twith excellent falls views. Explore the Gooseberry River and Lake Superior on the 2.5-mile Gitvh Gummi trail.
Length: 22K double tracked
Fees: MN Ski Pass required, self-pay at Visitor Center
Hours: open daily 9am-4pm
Amenities: Visitor center has restrooms, lobby with a fireplace, a gift shop, theater and exhibits