gooseberry falls area

gooseberry falls

Just up the road from Two Harbors is the tiny burg, Castle Danger, whose moniker has conjured a number of theories, including that it was named after a boat, the Castle, that ran aground nearby or that the shoreline cliffs looked a bit castlelike, If you squint a bit. In just the right light. Whatever the namesake, this little burg is a nice base for hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, riding the Gitchi Gami Trail and rambling about Gooseberry Falls State Park.

You will find a few restaurants and gift shops, and a gallery to visit, too.

Mileage starts at the Duluth Lift Bridge

mile 30.6

Silver Cliff is the highest bluff rising out of Lake Superior. In 1923 builders carved Highway 61 out of the cliffside 125 feet above the lake. In 1994, after three years of blasting and the removal of a million cubic yards of rock, the tunnel was completed as a safer route. To walk the old route, park at the wayside rest on the northeast side of the tunnel and walk the half-mile paved path that follows the old highway bed at cliff’s edge. Take in the wide open views of Lake Superior.

mile 34.6

During a November 28, 1905 blizzard, the Pittsburgh Steamship Company lost two men and four ships, precipitating, in part, the building of the lighthouse at Split Rock. It was a dark and stormy night. With zero visibility, the captain had no idea where he was until he heard breakers hitting the shore. A few moments later, waves smashed her into offshore rocks. With no time to react, the Manila drove into the Lafayette’s stern, busting her in two in minutes. Both crews made it to shore.

Aren’t you glad you can safely whiz right through the Lafayette Bluff Tunnel?

mile 36.8

If you haven’t sensed the theme, yet, the North Shore has lots of tiny burgs. Castle Danger offers up pie, meals, and a little shopping to go with your history, geology, nature, and the Big Lake.

mile 39.0

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.

mile 39.0

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 2+ mile loop. In the winter, a there-and-back cross-country ski trail leads to the same falls and scenic overlook.

mile 39.5

For many this is the first big stop on their travels.  This four-season park offers accessible trails to rushing waterfalls, plus trails to through the woods, along the river and to Lake Superior; naturalist programs, biking, fishing, fall colors, birding, skiing, plus shopping, exhibits, restrooms, and visitor info in a firelit lobby within the Visitor Center.

mile 39.5

Hop on your bike and ride from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. This gently rolling paved trail begins on Lake Superior’s shore, loops through the park and stays on the south side of Highway 61 before heading towards the lighthouse. Pass under pines and glimpse views of the big lake. The 8.5-mile one-way ride can be continued another 5.6 miles to the Beaver River in Beaver Bay. Return route is the same.

Gooseberry Falls

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