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March 31st, 2020
As winter subtly shifts to spring, thousands of Midwesterners flock up historic Highway 61 to observe the sheer beauty of Minnesota’s North Shore. The North Shore, of course, is a four-season haven for those with a penchant for adventure, nature, and tranquility. And there’s no better place to unwind, relax, and recharge after a long Minnesota winter than right here at Cascade Lodge in lakeside Lutsen. North Shore’s spring season often allures a specific type of traveler—one that’s looking to finally spend an extended break from work amid budding forestry, crashing Lake Superior waves, and heart-pounding North Shore waterfalls.
Regardless of the season, travelers simply cannot get enough of our classic North Shore waterfalls. From the Canadian border’s Pigeon River all the way down to Duluth’s Chester Creek, you seemingly won’t have to travel more than a dozen miles to spot a wild, free-flowing waterfall. In fact, it’s no secret that the very best waterfalls in Minnesota rest along scenic Highway 61. Please keep reading to learn more about the five prettiest waterfalls on Minnesota’s North Shore.
Whether or not scientists actually solved the mystery of Devil’s Kettle Falls, Judge C.R. Magney State Park remains an enigmatic, undeniably serene destination. The hike to and from Devil’s Kettle, a head-scratching disappearing waterfall, is equally challenging and unforgettable. Woodland critters often peek through the dense forestry to say, “hello,” and the lower falls invite onlookers to draw nearer.
Interestingly enough, the tallest waterfall on the North Shore (and the state) spills along the border of Ontario. While much of the towering, forceful High Falls does crash down in the United States, Canada does own a small chunk of this picturesque borderland. Much like Niagara Falls, there’s an open debate over which side of the border provides the best views—as far as we’re concerned, Grand Portage State Park’s straightaway vantage point is tough to beat.
A handful of the most overlooked North Shore waterfalls can be discovered approximately 0.5 miles from Cascade Lodge’s charming cabin rentals. Cascade River State Park, and it’s collection of cascading waterfalls, is a just a short forest walk from the Main Lodge. Thus, from dawn to dusk, it’s quite common to spot couples and families meandering through the forestry en route to this often passed-over state park.
Gooseberry Falls State Park remains one of the most-visited destinations in the Midwest. So, expect crowds. That being said, there’s no denying the allure of the sprawling, dramatic Gooseberry River. After snapping photos of the main falls, trek down into the lower ravine for a picnic. Then, hop onto the River View Trail en route to Agate Beach, where the river slides into the vast Lake Superior.
Yes, two of the tallest waterfalls in Minnesota are named “High Falls.” Unlike the Pigeon River’s High Falls, you can gleefully swim underneath Tettegouche’s dramatic waterfall. During summer’s peak, when the temperatures are at their highest, we highly recommend trekking down onto the banks of the Baptism River. Most adventurers climb down underneath Highway 61 and start meandering up the Baptism, where you’ll encounter several hidden North Shore waterfalls. Of note: The Baptism walk should only be attempted by those with backcountry adventure experience AND when the river is low. Expect to get wet.
After each full day of adventure and exploration, return to Cascade Lodge for a gourmet dinner, drinks at dusk on your private deck, and stories around a crackling wood-burning stove. As Cascade Lodge narrows in on 100 years of hospitality, we’re reminded of how lucky we are to call this glorious land, “home.” To learn more about potential spring (or summertime) adventures or to book an escape, please visit us online at CascadeLodgeMN.com. You can also reach us at 218-387-1112.