mile 70.7

Caribou Falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls on the shore, in part because of the approach. From the wayside rest follow the spur trail [at the first bench, continue to follow the spur]. The trail climbs about 100-feet in a half mile before making a 90-degree turn to multiple flights of stairs [~150 in all]. A right hand turn after the first few flights opens to a cedar- and pine-framed view of the falls. It becomes more and more impressive as you get closer, and the gray basalt outcroppings are a striking frame to this 35-foot falls

mile 188.7

kakabeka falls ontario canada

Kakabeka Falls of Kaministiquia River

Wrap up your waterfall tour in Canada at the spectacular 40-meter/131-foot “Niagara of the North” which drops precipitously into a rock-walled canyon. Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is located in Ontario, Canada – you will need a passport to enter Canada/return to the USA.

mile 150.3

On the US/Canadian border, the Pigeon River drops 950 feet ending with the 120-foot drop High Falls, the highest you will find on the North Shore. This lower reach is particularly rugged until a short distance after the falls, where the river widens. An easy half-mile trail in Grand Portage State Park leads to the High Falls. The trail ends with two great viewing decks where you can feel the spray of the falls!

mile 124.0

Judge Magney State Park’s claim to fame is the Devil’s Kettle. Rumored to have no bottom this watery cauldron perpetually turns and froths. The hike up treats you to excellent vantage points of the Lower Falls before leading to where the river course splits. About half of the river’s water flow runs over the grand Upper Falls while the other disappears into the Devil’s Kettle. The river rushes in the spring, but to get the best perspective of the Devil’s kettle, plan a summer or autumn visit. Plan on 100+ stairs each way; about 2 ¼ miles total.

mile 107.3

New in 2021, the paved Gitchi Gami Bike Trail will pass directly in front of the falls of the fall river. Bike or walk a 2.6 miles west from downtown Grand Marais or 2.6 miles east from Cut Face Wayside. Features pretty rock cuts and views of the river mouth in Lake Superior. 5.2 miles round trip.

mile 99.8

Ten miles above Highway 61 Cascade River begins its descent to Lake Superior. Dropping 900 feet in the lower three miles, the river takes a steep final run in the last quarter mile as it drops 120 feet through a deep, churning gorge. See the Cascade Falls and cascades on an easy loop that includes overlooks and a foot bridge with excellent views of the falls. The loop that includes the falls, cascades and bridge over the river is about 1/2 mile; you can extend your hike on either side of the river.

mile 86.6

Stairstep falls of the onion River in early spring

Stair Step Falls of Onion River

Climb the wooden steps and hike above the river to view the cascades near the river mouth then continue another 1/2 mile to see the Stair Step Falls. Can only be seen before the trees leaf out and is best in spring when the river rushes. Easy to follow trail from parking.

mile 80.6

Temperance River has carved out some stunning gorges over which flow the Upper Falls, Hidden Falls, and Lower Falls. To watch the Lower Falls tumble into Lake Superior, follow the short easy loop on the lakeside of the highway [.25 mile total]. Tucked deep into the narrow gap, the river dives into a pool just above the roadside parking. Get a peek there before ascending stone steps to the cliffside overlook [not necessarily family-friendly]. The trail continues riverside over smooth rock outcroppings and through cedar stands to the High Falls and footbridge that allows a return down the west side of the river. Before crossing, walk a bit further to admire the upper cascades. Less than 2 miles for all three waterfalls.

mile 79.0

cross river falls schroeder mn from hwy 61

Cross River Falls

You can’t miss this classic falls, Highway 61 rolls right by! Take advantage of handy pedestrian bridges for excellent vantage points of the 100′ falls as they roll down and under the roadway before making the final drop on the south side of the bridge.

mile 59.4

illgen falls baptism river

Illgen Falls of Baptism River

One of the shortest walks to a North Shore waterfall. This 40 foot beauty tumbles over a huge pine-topped rock ledge. During snow melt in the spring, and after rains, the falls spread wide across the entire ledge while the rest of the year it flows nonstop down the center. Limited [3-4 car] parking at pull-off on MN Hwy 1 [other parking is exclusively for cabin rental] with a 1/10 mile walk to the falls.

mile 58.7

Baptism River High Falls is the highest falls entirely within Minnesota at about 70 feet and the trail provides viewing from the base, the crest and a swing bridge across the top of the falls. The 1.5 semi-strenuous uphill climb from the visitor center rewards you with a waterfall every half mile. First, get a glimpse of the Cascade Falls [smallest in the Park], then access to a short spur trail to the attractive Two Step Falls, and culminating in the king daddy High Falls. It’s all downhill on the way back. Another option is from the Superior Hiking Trail spur a mile up Highway 1. This is much flatter and about a mile round trip to the High Falls. Very limited parking however. The Cascade Falls has a 2-mile there-and-back trail from the Visitor Center which includes river views and is easier on the knees.

mile 51.3

beaver bay silver bay north shore mn

Beaver River Falls

The river drops 300 feet in a series of cascades and falls above the Highway 61 bridge, then enters the sedate Beaver Bay. A wayside rest is located on the northwest corner of the bridge. It is a few steps to front-and-center views from the pedestrian walkway on the north side of Highway 61. Don’t want to stop? At least look out the window. This is one of to drive-by waterfalls on the North Shore.

mile 43.4

The Split Rock River waterfalls feels like you’re really out in the woods, but you can be there and back in a half hour. The hike starts on the west side of the river climbing a half-mile through birch forests to the falls tumbling 20 feet over grey rock into a rock-edged pool. You can turn around here [1+ mile total] or hike another three-quarter mile to an impressive red rock [rhyolite] gorge with 50-foot cliffs and twin red pillars. This is another point where you can turn around [2.6 mile total]. If you choose to continue you will see a few more waterfalls over the next 3/4 of a mile. At that point you have to cross the river [in the water] and pick up the high east trail which showcases wide open Lake Superior views.

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 39.0

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 5.0

Amity Creek runs through Lester Park and you have two options to reach the narrow, picturesque Amity Falls. For a longer hike begin at the Lester Park parking area and hike a half-mile plus to the northwest where you will come upon the base of the falls, my favorite view. Hike the short steep hill to cross the foot bridge and see the upper river view. To make this a short easy hike, drive a half mile north on Occidental Boulevard to the parking area and follow the path to the footbridge. It’s worth it to walk down the hill – and back up – to see the falls from below.

mile 5.0

Start your waterfall tour with a look-see over the Superior Street bridge at the Lester River Falls or park in the lot on the east side of the river, half a block north, and walk the creek-side trail. The northeast trail is a woodland walk with a series of small falls. See the Amity Falls for another option in this park. Best seen during spring run-off. Walks range from 1/10 of a mile to 3+ miles.

mile 146.6

The Mount Josephine Wayside Rest has a spectacular overlook with views of the Susie Islands below in Lake Superior and Isle Royale in the distance. Isle Royale National Park is part of Michigan. The area is open April through October, has picnic tables and outhouses, and is located on the lake side of Highway 61.

mile 111.3

St. Francis Xavier Church in Chippewa City is a beautiful reminder of a thriving village that was home to more than 100 families in the 1880s and 1890s. Famous artist, George Morrison, was born and raised here. The descendants of Chippewa City residents continue to honor their heritage and support the Historical Society in sharing the story of this village.

St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, known locally as the “Chippewa City Church” is one of the last physical remnants of a once vibrant community.

mile 109.1

The 35-foot fishing tug Neegee, or “friend” in Ojibwe, was completed in 1936 and used in Grand Marais through the 1950s. To learn about commercial fishing in that era, take the self-guided tour of the boat and fish house.

mile 43.5

Walk up the west side of the trail high above the river past rock cliffs. If the water is low, walk through the river and continue on the east side for river valley views and Lake Superior overlooks ending back at Highway 61. You can up and back either side of the river, too. There’s a nice cobblestone beach at the river mouth, too.

mile 51.3

Parking gets to be overflowing on busy summer days at the state parks, so start your bike ride in Beaver Bay. Park at the rest area near the river and ride 14.1 miles to Gooseberry Falls Park and back [same distance] with stops at the waterfalls of the Gooseberry River, Split Rock Lighthouse,  and the beach at Iona’s Scientific and Natural Area. Grab a a bite to eat after [or before] in Beaver Bay.

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.

mile 27.5

flood bay state wayside

Walk the Beach

Flood Bay State Wayside offers a nice long pebble beach. Amble, search for agates, wade, picnic, relax. The walkway to the beach goes through a wetland that is sometimes home to waterfowl, otters, and beavers. Offers a seasonal restroom.

 

mile 26.2

Minnesota’s oldest continuously operating city band plays every Thursday evening in summer at 7pm. Bring a lawn chair and savor some small town fun. The bandshell is located within the Thomas Owens Park, a lovely little green space for letting the kids run, eating an ice cone, or having a cuppa.

mile 26.2

This global business started in the leased space of one of the founders, John Dwan, which now houses the 3M Birthplace Museum. The original concept in 1902 was to mine corundum, a very hard crystallized mineral, and sell it to grinding wheel manufacturers out East. But the mineral turned out to be something softer and the business was sold in 1905 and moved to Duluth. Stop by the museum to find out what happened.

mile 65.1

Area residents have restored, furnished, and replicated several buildings on this 40-acre homestead – home of the Finland Minnesota Historical Society – to preserve the history of white settlers to eastern Lake County. An old log structure from an adjacent homestead now serves as a sauna museum. The restrooms are housed in an old cabin from a nearby resort. The Park Hill School is back home after being moved to Finland in 1930 where it served as a town hall, and later as a teen center, and a gift shop. Lots to see and learn.

 

mile 53.7

A short drive from Highway 61 and two short paths lead to three wide-open views at the Silver Bay Scenic Overlook. Follow the blue signs into Silver Bay and up the hill. The first parking area has a short path to an aerial view of of the Cliffs Mining Plant. A loop from the large parking area brings you to an overlook with panoramic shore and lake views. A few steps later you are treated to a bird’s-eye perspective of Silver Bay from the big Lake to the ridge lines.

mile 109.1

Grand Marais is a very walkable town. Park out on Artist Point, follow the beach around the harbor, then take the covered bridge into the campground, wind your way through, skirting Lake Superior and conclude with a climb to Sweetheart’s Bluff. After an invigorating downhill return, you can walk the 3-mile round-trip paved Gitchi Gami trail west out of town to the cemetery and distant lake views before returning the same route.

mile 109.5

The Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery, a replica of the original late 1800s Johnson Trading Post, hosts local, regional, and national artists in revolving exhibits. The west wing is a permanent collection of original art by Anna C. Johnson, an early 1900s artist whose works capture the scenes from that era along the Gunflint Trail and along the North Shore.

mile 109.5

The Grand Marais Playhouse offers a Summer Repertory Festival each July through August as well as two Community youth plays held in December and April. In any given year, the Playhouse produces one-act plays, workshops, internships and fundraisers. Events are performed at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.

 

mile 151.0

Cross the border and spend some time in Canada [passport/approved documentation required to cross the border]. Thunder Bay is 36 miles over the border; along the way are the Middle Falls Provincial Park, shops and farm stands, Old Fort William, Kakabeka Falls. Canada is English-speaking, uses the same rules of the road, uses the metric system, has their own currency, and is in Eastern Time Zone, one hour ahead of Minnesota.

mile 150.8

It’s all about hiking to the 120-foot High Falls, but leave time for the exhibits, gift shop and interpretive signs in and around the Visitor Center, where you can learn about the culture and traditions of the Grand Portage Ojibwe people. Bring your camera.

mile 143.3

Learn about the alliance between the Grand Portage Ojibwe and the North West Company during the fur trade boom in the late 1700s. at the Grand Portage National Monument. Explore the reconstructed stockade and great hall, the visitor center, garden and grounds, Mount Rose trail and historic Grand Portage trail leading 8.5 miles inland to Fort Charlotte on the Pigeon River.

mile 123.8

The popular hike runs cliffside high above the Brule River. After a spur to the Lower Falls, make the final climb  to where the splits. The eastern flow tumbles over the High Falls while the western arm drops into the Devil’s Kettle, final destination unknown. The hike is within Judge C.R. Magney State Park.

mile 118.7

Relax, skip stones, and picnic on the beach. The there-and-back hike follows the Kadunce River with spurs to overlooks and pools. During the warm months of summer, when the water runs low, many locals hike up the river including climbing the waterfall.

mile -1

Hike to Magnetic Rock. This favorite 3.1-mile round-trip trail leads past a pond, through a blueberry patch, into a forest recovering from the 2007 Ham Lake Fire and up an easy ascent to this 60-foot magnetic rock. Test your compass at the top and then on your way out – see what happens!

mile -1

A hearty breakfast to get you started, happy hour on the deck, sunset over the lake for dinner; sound good? Plan a day on the Gunflint Trail with stops at shops and restaurants mid-trail near Poplar Lake, on the south side of Gunflint Lake, and near the end of trail.

mile -1

Picturesque Mink Lake is easy to get to, has a sandy swimming area, and a fishing pier. Cast for rainbow trout and splake [offspring of a male brook trout and a female lake trout]. Nearby Kimball Lake Campground has outhouses, camping and a hiking trail.

mile -1

Hop in your car and head due north on the Gunflint Trail! Drive up, up, up the hill to Pincushion Mountain overlook and take in the wide-open views of Lake Superior and Grand Marais. Continue on, admiring the virgin white pines at 9.5 miles, then stop at 24 miles, just past the Brule River [not South Brule River] for the 0.5-mile round trip Moose Viewing hike on the left/FR 316 is on the right]. Another 5 miles brings you to trail center shops and dining. Another 15 miles and you will be entering blueberry territory, then the final leg to end of the Trail Campground and Chikwauk Museum. 54 miles one way.

mile -1

Housed in the historic Chik-Wauk Lodge on beautiful Saganaga Lake, Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center presents the area’s cultural and natural history through interpretive and interactive exhibits. Learn about the Gunflint Trail’s prehistoric beginnings and people who helped shape today’s unique, rural community, including Native Americans, Voyageurs, miners, loggers, resort owners and current residents.

mile 109.6

Downtown Grand Marais is a three-block long strip centered around Harbor Park, a breezy sitting and gathering area leading to the cobblestone beach of the harbor. Shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries are clustered along Wisconsin Street and the side avenues stretching to and just inland from Highway 61.

 

mile 109.4

Pose in front of the original entrance to the Gunflint Trail, located on the north side of the highway near the library.  The Gunflint Trail is a 55-mile paved two-lane county road that ends at Saganaga Lake, on the U.S. – Canada border. You will find hiking, lakes to canoe-kayak-fish, resorts, and a cluster of shops and restaurants, especially at the mid-Trail point.

mile 109.2

The Gunflint Trail climbs 600 feet in the first few miles to a maple ridge line. At the top is Pincushion Mountain Overlook, a parking area with 180° views of Lake Superior. For the full circle view, make the 4-mile roundtrip hike to the top of Pincushion. This recreation area is criss-crossed with single track bike trails, hiking trails, cross-country and snowshoe trails. It is conveniently located three mile from Grand Marais.

mile 103.9

Heading northeast, just past Thomsonite Beach, Highway 61 curves left, revealing picturesque Good Harbor Bay, Seagull Rock, and, in the distance, Grand Marais. Use the pull of to admire the view and take photos. A quarter mile farther is Cut Face Creek Wayside, a nice spot for a picnic, an agate search, and skipping stones.

mile 109.2

North House Folk School engages in promoting and preserving the knowledge, skills, crafts and stories of the past and present. Classes, courses and programs are student-based and range from blacksmithing to woodworking, bread baking to weaving, timber-framing to basketry.

The campus offers a gift store, weekly tours, many events and programs and a complete catalog of courses. All on the shores of Lake Superior.

mile 109.4

At the Grand Marais Public Library visitors can enjoy a a paperback exchange, choose a book from Library Friends Sale rack, and use free WiFi, computers, reference sources and data bases, and the quiet reading room, and participate in special events. Open Monday through Saturday.

mile 109.4

Artists and creative seekers of all levels come from across the country to learn from renowned instructors, create art, and engage together in artistic inquiry. The Grand Marais Art Colony presents short entry points, artist talks, and exhibitions and courses and mentorships for advanced to novice artists. Adult, youth, and private group classes offered. All are welcome to visit including a wonderful, small curated shop.

Clay, glass, literary arts, photography, mixed media, painting, drawing, printmaking, book arts, sculpture, and jewelry, and mentor series.

mile 109.6

Those who have traveled and lived along the North Shore have been reliant on Lake Superior for food and – for many years – for transportation. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, lighthouses were built to mark treacherous reefs and to mark spots of refuge, like the Grand Marais Harbor. The lighthouse was built in 1884 and the Lightkeeper’s residence in 1896. Now home to the Cook County Historical Society, it is a museum with exhibits and archival storage.

mile 109.5

The Cook County Community YMCA  has a lap pool with a zero depth play area, water slide, whirlpool, sauna, weight and cardio rooms. Youth, adult and family day passes offered. Visitors welcome!

mile 109.5

Each year the North Shore Music Association sponsors and produces concerts, dances and workshops featuring artists as varied as Guy Davis and Shemekia Copeland, Rose Flores, Phil Heywood, Harpeth Rising, McInnis’ Kitchen and the Minetti Quartet. All events take place at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.

 

mile 99.8

Cascade brings the river to you. A quick jaunt up well-maintained trails brings you to overlooks and a footbridge spanning the cascades [ideal photo spot]. Picnic spots are a quarter mile farther along Highway 61. If you want to ski over the river and through the woods, Cascade has amazing cross-country skiing. Feel free to snowshoe anywhere, too.

mile 90.1

Share your sentiments under the canopy of the covered bridge over the Poplar River. While you’re choosing the ideal photo spot, check to see if anyone is fishing the river mouth. The bridge is part of Lutsen Resort and is open to everyone.

mile 86.5

Pull into the Ray Berglund State Wayside on the north side of Highway 61 between Tofte and Lutsen. Climb the wooden steps and hike above the Onion River to view the stair-step waterfalls. You get a much clearer view of the waterfalls in the spring before the trees green-up, but this is a nice quiet, one-mile hike any time of the year. Lakeview picnic tables are on the bluff near the top of the stairs. Fisherman take note, the Onion River is a designated trout stream. Everyone take note of the swanky outhouse, [seasonal].

mile 86.1

This perennial favorite, the Oberg Mountain Loop, starts off a short spur from the parking area and climbs at an angle up to western views down the shore, then panoramic Lake Superior views to the south, then northeast view up the shoreline, and finally northern views over Oberg Lake and the amazing maple-covered hillsides to the north. The trail meanders under maple and birch canopies, over bedrock slabs and can be steep at times. The loop is 2.25 miles total.

mile 90.5

Lutsen Mountains, the Midwest’s largest and tallest ski area offers alpine skiers and snowboarders 95 sweeping runs over four mountains. Non-skiers can enjoy slopeside views and amenities at two chalets. Spring, summer and autumn visitors can hike, bike, ride the gondola and alpine slide, and dine at the chalets.

mile 82.4

Donated by the eldest daughter, Elizabeth, of original European settlers John and Cecilia Tofte, Tofte Park features two cobblestone bridges and a cobblestone wishing well plus a picnic site and open shelter. Have a picnic, listen to the lake, hangout. Available for rental for weddings, reunions, gatherings.

mile 81.8

Get info about everything to do in the woods at the Tofte Ranger Station. Get permits and maps, ask about camping and trails, find out where inland lakes are located, see if any berries are in season, and ask about that bird you saw on the way by.

mile 80.4

Heartbreak Ridge is a top-notch fall color drive, and lovely drive through the woods any other time of year. Drive north on the Temperance River Road for 5.1 miles, then head east on the Six Hundred Rd [you’re on Heartbreak Ridge] 4.9 miles. Stop at the roadside sign and see how the ridge got its name. Return 5.5 miles down the Sawbill Trail to Tofte.

mile 80.4

Amazing river gorges that start a few feet inland from the highway, waterfalls, two foot-bridges, hiking, a cobblestone river mouth, camping and hiking. Hike a short way upriver to the amazing gorges, then return south of the highway and walk across the foot-bridge. During spring runoff or after rainy days, the river spray will mist you. Back in the day, this was the only river without a [sand] bar at the mouth, hence the name, Temperance.

mile 78.8

Highway 61 spans the Cross River mid-waterfalls. While the drive-by view is nice, stop and walk the pedestrian bridge, an ideal vantage point for photos. Back in the day, the John Schroeder Lumber Company would dam the headwaters of the Cross River until spring, then shoot logs downriver to Lake Superior, where they were bound into rafts and floated over to Ashland and Superior, Wisconsin.

mile 75

For thirty-one years Taconite Harbor was home to families working the adjacent Erie Mining loading dock and power plant. When mining took a downturn in the 1980s, the company cleared the town for a new venture. Follow the road south of Highway 61. On the right you will see the remnants of main street,  including a few street lights and the basketball court. The end of the road takes you to an outdoor exhibit explaining the taconite operation, a public boat launch, safe harbor, and views of the rusting ore docks.

mile 83.3

And how did they do it 100 years ago? Learn about commercial fishing, past and present, at the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum, where many artifacts from families’ of the original Scandinavian settlers are on display. Continue your education via plaques along the the lakewalk edging Bluefin Bay.

mile 78.7

From 1929 roadhouse, to manifestations as a general store gas station, post office, and sausage market, the Cross River Heritage Center now houses historical exhibits, a gift shop and visitor information, and many wonderful photos and details of logging in the area. One of the original Stickney Inn rooms has been preserved and is open to the public, too.

mile 73.3

Take a leg-stretcher along the 1-mile interpretive nature trail that departs from the parking area and includes a stop at Sugarloaf Cove on Lake Superior. The Interpretive Center has exhibits and artifacts from early logging operations in the area.

mile 65.2

At the crossroads of MN Hwy 1, the Little Marais Rd and the Cramer Rd, set in the picturesque valley behind the Sawtooth range is Finland Minnesota. A couple of restaurants, a couple of state parks, a couple of backroads, a couple of attractions. This is what a number of the small shoreline villages were like 25 years ago.

mile 62.0

Illgen City is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, two-business town at the crossroads of Hwy 61 and MN Hwy 1. By comparison, Little Marais bustles over its three miles with shops and lodging choices and the other entry/return point from Finland. Very friendly shopkeepers!

mile 60.0

Lift your glass to this mythical Finnish saint who is cherished for leading the grasshoppers away from vineyards’ grapes. This is the perfect stop for people looking for something out-of-the-way, and a little less known. While the wooden carving of St. Urho is many feet high, keep an eye out, a leafy tree semi-obscures the statue from the road. When you’re done taking selfies, have a bite to eat in town.

St. Urho’s Day is celebrated the Saturday closest to March 16th. Finland offers up a beauty pageant, a parade, music, food and fun.

mile 58.5

Spread over 9300 acres, Tettegouche is a handful of overlapping parks including Lake Superior coastline, Baptism River and falls, inland lakes, hardwood forests, rugged topography PLUS 24/7 restrooms, a café and gifts, and charming fireside indoor and outdoor seating. Something for everyone!

mile 57.0

Palisade Head is a lakeside cliff with a stellar sweeping outlook over Lake Superior and up and down its shoreline. In the summer, drive to the top along a a curvy tree-shadowed barely-two-lane road with limited parking and an occasional blueberry bush at the top. In winter, you can hike up the unplowed road. Stop at the Tettegouche State Park office for a permit if you wish to climb [gasp!] Palisade.

mile 53.7

Spacious slips for daily or seasonal rental, a picnic area, amenities in the marina shop, a short hiking path and a top-notch view of ships being loaded with taconite at Cliffs Natural Resources dock. The Silver Bay Marina plays host to the annual Salmon Classic fishing contest, too.

 

mile 54.0

The Silver Bay Library, part of the Arrowhead Regional Library system, is open to the public for browsing and reading. The Friends of the Library hosts a monthly book club, an ongoing book sale at the library [handy for visitor!] and an annual sale.

mile 60.0

Wolf Ridge, which sits on a spectacular 2000-acre site above Lake Superior, is internationally know for its top-notch outdoor learning and adventure programs. They offer multi-day family camps, summer camps, wilderness adventures, and grandparent/grandchild Road Scholars in addition to hosting school groups year-round. For a shorter experience, reserve a naturalist-guided half-day Split Rock Kayak Tour or drop by to explore the trails, overlooks, and educational displays.

mile 51.3

Stop by the new trailhead, check out the maps and make the short walk to admire views of the Beaver Falls, Beaver River, river mouth and bay. The river drops 300 feet in a series of cascades and falls above the Highway 61 bridge, then enters the sedate bay.

mile 50.3

line of shops and restaurants along a boardwalk in beaver bay minnesota

Beaver Bay

Enjoy the eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, then stop by the cemetery and pay your respects to legendary North Shore mail carrier John Beargrease.

mile 46.0

Split Rock Lighthouse is the most well-known visual representation of the North Shore. Have you been? The Lighthouse, part of the MN Historical Society, offers a guided tour of the lighthouse, fog-signal building, oil house and light-keeper’s house. The visitor center has gifts, exhibits and a brief video. Each November 10th, the beacon is lit at the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial.

The adjacent state park has trails, camping, and alluring forests running down to the shoreline.

mile 42.6

iona's cobblestone beach lake superior

Go to the Pink Beach

Drive right up to this expansive beach, Iona’s Beach Scientific & Natural Area, which is bookended by cliffs, rhyolite,  and bedrock to the north and basalt to the south. Nor’easters work away at the northern cliff, breaking off shards of the pink rhyolite and wash them down shore. Once home to Twin Points Resort, the area is named after longtime owner Iona Lind.

Scientific and Natural Areas [SNAs] are natural resources that are rare or of exceptional scientific and educational value.

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 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 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 26.2

Two Harbors and Lake County non-native settlers came primarily to work the mines, cut timber or commercially fish Lake Superior. Uncover about this aspect of history at the historic 1907 Duluth and Iron Range Depot. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Depot is a museum and home to the Lake County Historical Society and work-in-progress Judge William Scott Library.

mile 26.2

Walk from Agate Bay near the iron ore docks along a 1-mile paved walkway, the Sonju Trail, to Burlington Bay.

Agate Bay attractions include the Edna G tugboat, the Railroad Depot museum,  the Two Harbors Lighthouse museum and gift shop, and working ore docks – watch ships enter the harbor, dock and load up with pellets. Skip stones, picnic and search for agates along the cobblestone beach of Burlington Bay.

mile 26.2

Visit the oldest operating lighthouse in Minnesota; on the National Register of Historic Places. Tour the Fog Horn Building, which focuses on fishing and shipwrecks, and a pilot house from the iron ore ship Frontenac. The light keeper’s quarters are now a B&B. The complex is part of the Lake County Historical Society.

mile 26.6

The Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC] originally built this log cabin as a residence for the fire ranger at the tower in the Isabella Ranger District [north of Hwy 61 on MN Hwy 1]. The building was moved to Two Harbors in 1927 and is graced by Peter Toth’s Native American totem pole.

Stop in for tips and info.

mile 26.2

An informed and engaged community needs a gathering place where they can connect with each other and the wider world.  The Two Harbors Public Library provides a welcoming space with a wide variety of resources in print and other media for the education and enjoyment of everyone – children, youth, and adults.

Open Monday through Friday at 11 am. Part of the Arrowhead Regional Library System

mile 21.2

A small cluster along Scenic 61, the focal point of Larsmont is the Little Red Schoolhouse. On the National Register of Historic Places, it is a community hub for area residents. Stop and see what’s happening.

Interesting tidbit: Larsmont received its name in 1914 from an early settler who was originally from Larsmo, Finland.

mile 18.3

A DNR marina, the river, a Lake Superior beach, Rec Center and a few businesses add up to be the little burg of Knife River. Originally founded as Buchanan, after President Buchanan, this unincorporated village has been home to commercial fishermen for the past 150+ years. During a spring gale in April 1914, 64-mile-per-hour winds proved too much for the 239-foot steel steamer Benjamin Noble, which sank off Knife Island.

mile 10.0

McQuade Harbor Rest Area is a spanky little safe harbor with a boat launch, kayak ramp, restrooms, interpretive panels, shelter and paved walkway with tunnel to the east breakwall which includes three fishing platforms. Nice spot for a picnic, shore casting, or a little leg-stretcher.

mile 5.2

Part of Kitchi-Gami park; Brighton Beach is is perfect for skipping stones, agate-hunting, ship-watching, wading, picnicking and lollygagging. Features summer-use restrooms, picnic tables and grills. Brighton Beach Road starts just past the  little blue tourist info center and connects in 0.8 miles to Scenic 61/Congdon Blvd.

Note North Shore beaches are pebble or cobblestone; for sand, head to Park Point In Duluth.

mile 0.0

The Lake Superior Maritime Museum houses actual-size replicas of a ship cabin, pilothouse, and massive steam engine. Exhibits and displays include several scale ship models. They list and announce all ship arrivals and departures, too. It’s free!

mile 0.0

… sail through the canal and under the Aerial Lift Bridge. The gargantuan counterweights slowly descend, raising the 900-ton span of the Aerial Lift Bridge nearly 140 feet in the air to allow 1000-footers [ore boats carrying taconite pellets] and salties [ocean-bound ships] to pass into the harbor. The canal was excavated in 1871 and is a deceptive 300 feet wide and 1,650 feet long. The first aerial transfer was erected in 1905 and modernized in 1929 to what you see today. It can rise to its full height in 55 seconds.

mile 0.0

Canal Park – the Aerial Lift Bridge, the Marine Museum, the Lakewalk, sculptures and public art [like this sculpture wall], shops, restaurants, and lodging.

Enter the Lakewalk from several points in Canal Park and walk along the shore, through Leif Erikson park and the Duluth Rose Gardens and continue to Brighton Beach, on the eastern edge of Duluth; up to 10+ miles roundtrip.