Minnesota North Shore – The In-Between, Day 1

Day1This was a complete impromptu kind of trip.  Being the planner that I am I still put together an itinerary of possibilities.  We did plan to focus on photographing waterfall in the state parks this trip.  We no sooner made the plan and were met with a potential hurdle.  Just outside of Duluth on I35 we were met with a wall of fog.  If you have ever been to Duluth or been there multiple times, there is a good chance you have experienced this king of fog of epic proportions.  Visibility was nil.  All was not lost as Duluth was not the destination, but rather a blip on the trail of this particular journey.  Little did we know the fog would run the whole length of the North Shore and only really clear one morning during our visit.  It made for an interesting trip photographically, that is for sure.

This post and the next few after will recap the details of each day of our trip to the North Shore.  I will highlight where we went, what we did and saw and where we ate and stayed.

Knife River, MN was our first stop.  You couldn’t see much of Lake Superior, but you could smell the fresh air and the lake.  Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse is always on the itinerary.  Cyndie isn’t a fan of smoked fish, but I am.  I got a quick fix in the parking lot and even shared a bit with the seagulls.  Just down the road from Kendall’s on the opposite side of the road are some fantastic old vehicles.  I photograph them every trip.

CovePointThe first day we milled about in Two Harbors a bit and then made our way to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  It was this first day that we noticed the abandoned building, but we didn’t photograph it until we returned later in the trip.  This was a long day filled with many miles and great sites.  Cooter Pottery  and Two Island River/Taconite Harbor were great destinations of the day.  We settled in at Cove Point Lodge for the night.  We had a wonderful dinner just up the road at Cove Point Crossings Bar & Grill.

As you can see by the satellite view there is a nice point to observe the bay and lake from.  There is a trail all the way out to the point.  This was an interesting and picturesque hike after breakfast the next morning  in the fog .

Here are my shots of the Minnesota North Shore – The in between, Day 1


Minnesota North Shore – Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche is the third state park you will encounter on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  It sits 58 miles northeast of Duluth in Lake County on scenic Minnesota Highway 61. The park’s name stems from the Tettegouche Club, an association of local businessmen which purchased the park in 1910 from the Alger-Smith Lumber Company. The club’s members protected the area until its sale in 1971 to the deLaittres family. In 1979, the state of Minnesota acquired 3,400 acres from the Nature Conservancy, including Tettegouche Camp. The land was added to Baptism River State Park, which was renamed Tettegouche State Park.

The park covers some 9000+ acres which is home to six lakes and the Baptism River.  There are four waterfalls total, but the 70 foot High Falls is the jewel of the park.  There are 22 miles of hiking trails and access to the Superior Hiking Trail.  Shovel Point and Palisade Head cliff’s offer climbing directly over Lake Superior.  Diverse camping opportunists await you here as you can drive-in, walk-in, cart-it and even kayak-in to a campsite.

There is a new visitor center under construction and the main park entrance has shifted to a new location temporarily as a result.  Read more…

At this park we photographed Two Step Falls and High Falls; we didn’t venture around to the other side of the river to capture the staight-on view of High Falls.  There wasn’t any fog at this park as it was far enough off Lake Superior and it was quite bright.  These were not good conditions to capture the falls without ND filters 😦  High Falls is the highest waterfall entirely inside Minnesota’s border whereas High Falls in Grad Portage State Park on the Pigeon River is the tallest in Minnesota (on the border with Canada).   I completely missed Illgen Falls on the map – next time.  There is a rental cabin right at Illgen Falls.  I would love to stay here some day and catch the sunrise through the stone arch on the beach.


In 1898, the Alger-Smith Lumber Company began cutting the virgin pine forests of Northeastern Minnesota. A logging camp was set up on the shores of a lake the loggers called Nipisiquit, an Indian name from a tribe in New Brunswick, Canada, the logger’s native country. They took the Algonquin names for New Brunswick landmarks and gave them to the lakes in Tettegouche.

In 1910, after removing most of the Norway and white pine, the logging company sold the camp and surrounding acreage to the “Tettegouche Club,” a group of businessmen from Duluth who used the area as a fishing camp and retreat. One of its members, Clement Quinn, bought the others out in 1921 and continued to act as protector for the area until 1971 when Quinn sold Tettegouche to the deLaittres family. The deLaittres continued Quinn’s tradition of stewardship for the land, beginning negotiations several years later for the preservation of Tettegouche as a state park. During these years, the Nature Conservancy, a private land conservation organization, played a vital role (along with other concerned individuals and groups) in the transfer of ownership. Finally, on June 29, 1979, legislation was enacted establishing Tettegouche as a state park.

Here are my shots of our visit to Tettegouche.

The State Parks:  (1) Gooseberry Falls |(2) Split Rock Lighthouse | (3) Tettegouche | (5) Temperance River | (6) Cascade River | (7) Judge C.R. Magney | (8) Grand Portage

Minnesota North Shore – Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls is the first state park you will encounter heading North from Duluth.  This “gateway to the North Shore” is situated 40 scenic miles North from Duluth along Hwy 61 and the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline.  Known primarily for its waterfalls, five in all, this park offers some tremendous views of the awesome power of water.  The 23 mile long Gooseberry River runs through the park with varying degrees of volume as it is highly dependent on rain water runoff.  The river was plump with water for our visit in July; we photographed all but Fifth Falls.  Other items of interest include Agate Beech and the 18 miles of hiking trails, of which 8 are mountain biking trails.  There is no shortage of things to see at this park.


The area known as Gooseberry Falls State Park is intricately tied to human use of Lake Superior. At different times, the Cree, the Dakotah, and the Ojibwe lived along the North Shore. As early as 1670, the Gooseberry River appeared on explorer maps. The river was either named after the French explorer Sieur des Groseilliers or after the Anishinabe Indian name, Shab-on-im-i-kan-i-sibi; when translated, both refer to gooseberries. In the 1870s, commercial and sport fishermen began to use this area.

By the 1890s, logging became the principle use of the land around the Gooseberry River. In 1900, the Nestor Logging Company built its headquarters at the river mouth and a railway was used to carry the pine to the lake for rafting to the sawmills. Because of fires and intensive logging pressures, the pine disappeared by the early 1920s.

With the rise of North Shore tourism in the 1920s, there was a concern that the highly scenic North Shore would be accessible only to the rich. As a result the Legislature authorized preservation of the area around Gooseberry Falls in 1933. The following year, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began to develop the park. CCC crews built the park’s stone and log buildings and the 300-foot long “Castle in the Park” stone retaining wall. They also laid out the original campground, picnic grounds and trails. The area officially became Gooseberry Falls State Park in 1937. The CCC camps closed in 1941, but the park’s CCC legacy lives on. Designed with ties to the CCC, a new visitor center/wayside rest and Highway 61 bridge was opened in 1996. CCC camp photo albums: Camp life  This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.Buildings/historic site  This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.Legacy Self-guided Tour checklist & map  This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it..

The State Parks:  (1) Gooseberry Falls |(2) Split Rock Lighthouse | (3) Tettegouche | (5) Temperance River | (6) Cascade River | (7) Judge C.R. Magney | (8) Grand Portage

Minnesota North Shore – Summary


Wow what a trip.  I’ve been up the North Shore several times.  I’ve been through the area in the Spring, Winter, and Fall, but never in the Summer.  The funny thing though, it didn’t exactly feel like Summer.  With the weird and delayed warmer weather this Spring – Spring is just reaching points Duluth and North.  The lilacs are just blooming now along with all the other wild flowers including lupine.  The roadsides where vibrant with color for the duration.DSC_4482

Leaving the twin city metro area, the weather was the typical July like 90+ degrees; there was a touch of stifling humidity in the air and the possibility of a thunderstorm was very likely.  Life is usually a bit cooler along the North Shore with the breezes blowing over that 40 degree water.  You could say it is a natural air conditioner.  If you have ever been to Duluth, you know full well that there is a chance that you won’t see most of the town and none of the lake when heavy fog sets in.  This is exactly what we were met with.  From 90+ to 50 degrees in what seemed an instant.  Very heavy fog clogged up any hope of a panoramic view and inhibited visibility on the road significantly, but hamper our spirits it did not.  Such is life traveling the shore.

Over the next few days we made our way up the shore seven of the eight state parks in the fog.  This trip was mostly about photographing the waterfalls in each state park, with the exception of Split Rock, the lighthouse is just cool to tour.  It turns outs that fog makes waterfall photography interesting.  It was a godsend considering some neutral density (ND) filters were left behind and one lens (with ND filters) was not functioning correctly.  The fog naturally filtered out the harsh sunlight and created some interesting shooting conditions to say the least.

The State Parks:  (1) Gooseberry Falls |(2) Split Rock Lighthouse | (3) Tettegouche | (5) Temperance River | (6) Cascade River | (7) Judge C.R. Magney | (8) Grand Portage

We are truly lucky to live is such a beautiful area with wonderful and abundant natural resources so close by.  Our state parks are so beautiful.  Aside from the parks, the rest of the scenery along the way is pretty awe-inspiring as well.

We were also fortunate enough to sneak a peek (and several shots) of an old abandoned 3-story warehouse/distribution center in Two Harbors, MN.  It was lovely as were many other places along the way.

In the coming days I will post the photos from each park.  I have a ton of photos (1100+) to look through.  Until then, here are a few shots of our travels along the way and in between the parks – more of these to follow as well.