Looking for places in town that feel a bit removed from the crowds of the metro area, but are well within city limits? When you’ve hit your limit on...
Go chasing waterfalls
Minnesota may be known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but the North Star State is also home to several stunning waterfalls that are roaring right now, thanks to the big spring melt made all the more powerful by an especially snowy winter.
Plus, waterfalls provide a key ingredient for family-friendly outings — a final destination with a special view — the perfect motivation for young ones, especially if a bit of hiking is required to reach your goal. That means, we hope, less whining and more exercise for your children, and less heavy kid-carrying for you!
The High Falls of The Baptism River
Where: Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay, 55 miles northeast of Duluth
Why: Tettegouche State Park is home to three waterfalls, including the High Falls, the tallest waterfall entirely within Minnesota’s state lines, falling more than 60 feet. (It’s second only to the 120-foot High Falls of the Pigeon River at the Ontario boarder in Grand Portage State Park.)
The Tettegouche High Falls can be reached by either a 1-mile or 3-mile roundtrip hike from the park’s visitor center, the longer of which winds past the smaller Two Step Falls.
For more ambitious hikers, the park offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails with views of lakes, scenic overlooks and the shores of Lake Superior, along with mountain bike and ATV trails. The park also offers opportunities for fishing, bird watching and rock climbing, plus campsites and cabins.
Learn more: dnr.state.mn.us or 218-226-6365
Devil's Kettle Falls
Where: Judge C.R. Magney State Park, 20 miles from Grand Marais
Why: Something strange is happening in this far-flung state park. Minnesota’s Brule River splits dramatically into two waterfalls — one plunges 50 feet into a pool below and continues downstream, while the other shoots into a large pothole that has stumped geologists for decades: Where does the water go once it disappears into the “Devil’s Kettle?”
Some believe the water empties into Lake Superior via an underground river. Others aren’t so sure. Dyes, logs, ping-pong balls and other objects thrown into the kettle have disappeared, never to be seen again, according to legend. Come up with your own theory, and awe at this natural wonder, by visiting the falls for yourself.
Hike about a mile — a strenuous one with 200 stairs added to assist you — to view Devil’s Kettle Falls as well as the park’s Upper Falls. The park is home to campgrounds, picnic areas, a self-guided nature walk and nine miles of challenging hiking trails along the Brule.
Learn more: dnr.state.mn.us or 218-387-3039
Where: Gooseberry Falls State Park, Two Harbors, 40 miles northeast of Duluth
Why: This beloved state park on the shores of Lake Superior contains four separate waterfalls — Upper, Middle (pictured) and Lower Gooseberry falls, all located near the park’s visitor center on Highway 61, plus a more secluded Fifth Falls about a mile up the river.
You can wade through the falls in warmer months, or view the falls from above on a catwalk bridge. This state park also offers self-guided nature walks, hiking and biking trails, campsites and historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Be sure to pack a lunch and visit the park’s ancient lava flow, aptly named Picnic Flow, where you can explore the rock formations and enjoy stunning views of Lake Superior while you eat.
It’s been quite a spring for the Gooseberry River near Two Harbors, Minn. Watch a video of the April 11 “ice out” captured at the river’s Middle Falls by the Duluth News Tribune. Large chunks of ice, logs and other debris came over the falls quickly in a flurry of activity caught on film. See tinyurl.com/gooseberryiceout.
Learn more: dnr.state.mn.us or 218-834-3855
Where: Minnehaha Park, 15 minutes south of downtown Minneapolis
Why: Enjoy a sweet slice of nature without ever having to leave the city. This impressive 53-foot waterfall is easily accessible by a short, paved walk from the parking lot at Minnehaha Park.
Observe the falls from one of the many viewing areas. Then follow Minnehaha Creek less than half a mile through the park to see where it meets up with the Mississippi River. Minnehaha Park is also home to the seafood cafe Sea Salt Eatery, plus a snack bar, wading pool and dog park. You’ll also find seasonal bike rentals and concerts in the city park bandstand.
Learn more: minneapolisparks.org or 612-230-6400
Where: Minneopa State Park, 6 miles west of Mankato
Minneopa translates roughly from the Dakota language to mean “water falling twice,” a nod to Minneopa Creek’s double waterfalls outside Mankato, about 90 miles from the Twin Cities. You can walk along the creek to the gorge at the bottom of the second waterfall, or view the action from a bridge between the first and second drops.
This park is broken into two parts: Waterfalls cascade in the southern portion of the park near a parking lot, picnic areas and the park’s office, where GPS units, birding and fishing supplies, sports equipment and activity kits for kids are available for rent. In the northern section of the park, which can be reached by a quick drive, you’ll find campgrounds, hiking trails and the historic Seppman Mill, a German-style stone windmill dating back to the 1860s.
Learn more: dnr.state.mn.us or 507-389-5464
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