In mid June, Jo and I took a trip around the north shore of Lake Superior. One benefit of the rain the upper Midwest experienced in May and early June was the rivers were at high water levels making for terrific waterfalls.
Our trip started in Duluth, Minnesota where we found a nice waterfall along Chester Creek in Chester Park. The Dan Proctor Hiking Trail runs adjacent to the creek on the east side as it tumbles down the hillside towards Lake Superior. On the west side of the creek is the Superior Hiking Trail that connects to the Duluth Lakewalk at the Rose Garden in Leif Erickson Park. Going the other direction the SHT goes to Hawk Ridge and then leaves Duluth heading toward Two Harbors, Minnesota. The Superior Hiking Trail runs the entire length of the Minnesota North shore.
The next day we headed towards Grand Marais finding several impressive waterfalls along the route: Gooseberry Falls, Cross River Falls, the High Falls on the Baptism River. Gooseberry State Park is a must-see stop along the Minnesota North Shore for its extensive network of stairs and walking trails completely encircling Gooseberry Falls. You can see these waterfalls and others along the Minnesota North Shore in the following slide show (click on any image to see a larger view)
On our recent trip we made time to stop in the Naniboujou Lodge on the shores of Lake Superior near the entrance to Judge Magney State Park. We’ve probably passed their sign dozens of times on the way to Grand Portage or Canada. It is worth a stop for the architecture, the ambiance, and the food. It is a step back in time to the elegance of a 1929 northwoods gentlemen’s club. Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and Ring Lardner were among the notables who were charter members. The original estate was over 3000 acres and was to include a wide range of sporting facilities (tennis, golf, bathhouse, etc.) and up to 150 guest rooms. The 1929 stock market crash and resulting depression curtailed plans to expand the estate and its membership and eventually required the club to sell its properties. The original lodge, great hall, and 24 guest rooms have been preserved and operate today as a restaurant and inn. The most impressive feature of the lodge is the great hall which serves as the main dining room. The walls and twenty foot high ceiling are a mural of Cree Indian designs created by a French artist. The huge fireplace at one end of the lodge is the largest native stone fireplace in Minnesota. All the furnishings are suitably aged and fit the image of a 1930s era clubhouse and northwoods inn. The menu offers a reasonable variety of choices, all with a creative twist in the recipe. The food was top quality and the price reasonable enough for a family on a budget. There is also a kids menu and pricing. The wait service was courteous and efficient – well-trained. The inn and restaurant is open from mid-May to mid-October and an abbreviated winter schedule – weekends from late December to mid-March.
We crossed the border into Canada at the Pigeon River. If you are traveling this route be sure to stop at the Grand Portage State Park visitor center to take a short hike to High Falls, one of two waterfalls competing for the title of highest waterfall around Lake Superior. The trail to the falls is an easy half mile walk and is handicap accessible. Once into Ontario, you’ll have a chance to see the other waterfall claiming to be the Lake Superior’s highest: Kakabeka Falls, which is in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, 18 miles west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Along the Ontario North Shore of Lake Superior are two more outstanding waterfalls: Rainbow Falls, and Auguasaban Falls. All three waterfalls are shown in the following slide show (click on any image to see a larger view).
As we continued east around Ontario’s section of Lake Superior there are more waterfalls along the eastern shoreline. However this section hadn’t received the amount of rainfall that the northern shoreline had, in fact it was pretty dry. So we took a pass on trekking in to see these falls. However four of them (Magpie High Falls, Silver Falls, Sand River Falls, and Chippewa Falls) are shown on our Eastern Shore SuperiorTrails web page.
The entire Ontario section of the Lake Superior Circle Route is about 500 miles. While it could be done in one day, we recommend taking at least two or three days to allow time to see some of the villages along the route (Rossport is our favorite), scenic lookouts along the route and visit some of the several of the Ontario Provincial Parks along the route.