Tag Archives: Lake Superior

The North Shore of Lake Superior, redux

Last summer we finally travelled to the North Shore of Lake Superior. Neither of us had ever been before and we loved it so much that we went back this summer. Both very different but very fun trips. Last year we stayed at a place right on the shore of Lake Superior and every room had a lake view which was quite nice! We decided to try a different place and spent four nights at the Cascade Lodge in Lutsen. It is also on the lake but the highway is in between so one has to be careful when crossing highway 61 to get to the lakeshore.

We did a similar first day as we did last year lunching at the Black Woods Grill in Duluth, a nice halfway point. We then made another stop at Kendall’s Smokehouse for some smoked fish to enjoy as a picnic in our room our first night. This worked great last year and it was another success this year. Huzzah!

We even found Castle Danger Brewery. We drove past it without knowing it last year so I made sure we found it this year. After a short break with beverages we headed on to our next destination before getting to our accommodations. Our plan was to go to both Gooseberry and Split Rock State Parks but we spent a bit more time at Gooseberry than planned so we didn’t have time to go to Split Rock Lighthouse. Since I didn’t get to the spots for the iconic views of the lighthouse we added it to our trip back. Except that didn’t work out because it was raining the day we left the North Shore, same as last year. Next year then!

Our first full day we opted for breakfast at the lodge. The restaurant was one of the enticers to stay at the lodge and the food is pretty good. After breakfast we headed out behind the lodge and along a creek where we each had a small mishap. No big deal either of them and we used both as a reminder to watch where we were going. That hike on the Cascade Creek Trail was a bit more treacherous than we had anticipated. The next gallery contains photos from our hike and others of the lodge.

We had a nice lunch at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais. Afterwards I got to shop at the Lake Superior Trading Post where I tried on some jackets and purchased some early Christmas presents and Reed’s butterscotch candies to boot! I really enjoyed that store.

We hiked in Cascade River State Park and found some waterfalls that afternoon. There was a small parking lot and trails right off highway 61 about 2 minutes from the lodge. Another nice hike! We had dinner at the lodge restaurant and our order got mixed up somehow. A big misunderstanding with the order taker. Once it got sorted out we enjoyed our meals. The salmon was delicious.

Our next full day started with breakfast at South of the Border Cafe and we did not time this well as all the tables were occupied when we arrived. We waited about 5 minutes and a couple of retired gentlemen invited us to sit at their 4 person table. We thanked them and sat with them. Such nice men and what a nice gesture.

After breakfast we headed to Grand Portage State Park on the Canadian border. It’s a fairly easy hike to the tallest waterfall in Minnesota. And if you’re lucky, you can see Canadians checking out the waterfall on the other side of the river and we saw some! They have a nice visitor’s center as well.

It was a short drive from Grand Portage State Park to Judge Magney State Park where there is yet another waterfall, The Devil’s Kettle. So of course we had to check it out. Oh but wait, there’s 192 stairs to get to it? Which means 192 stairs back up….oh what the hell! That was the reason we chose to take that hike and it was worth it!! Yet another beautiful waterfall. But all those steps down and back up again took a toll and my legs were a bit sore for a few days. Still worth it!! And I can’t believe I took no photos of any of those steps!

We lunched at Fisherman’s Daughter for fish and chips and they give you options of shrimp, whitefish or herring. We sat outside and really enjoyed our meal and the patio. Hubby chose shrimp and chips and I chose whitefish which came with cole slaw. Yum!!

For our last full day we took the scenic drive on the Gunflint Trail after another trip to South of the Border Cafe for breakfast. We saw the nice retired gentlemen again and waved to them. This time we got our own table. Sure is beautiful and peaceful on the Gunflint Trail. We stopped at some scenic overlook spots and could see the Canadian border again at Gunflint Lake.

I had written a bunch of notes about where to stop and our best chance to see moose but we didn’t feel much like hiking anywhere that morning likely due to all those steps to The Devil’s Kettle waterfall the day before. So we changed up the plan. Instead of hiking a half mile uphill to Blueberry Hill for some awesome views, we skipped it after we read the handwritten sign and no information (not even the name of the trail) about the trail. The handwritten sign said it was very steep and that the views were obstructed? We didn’t feel like doing anything steep so we moved on.  We did do the small hike to the moose viewing area further up the road, which was nice but there weren’t any moose.

We decided to go all the way to the end of the Gunflint Trail and check out the museum that’s there, Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. But we skipped the museum as it was starting to feel like lunch time so we headed back to Trail Center Lodge where we had another delicious lunch.

We had dinner at the Bluefin Grille and had a table with a lake view. We ate here last year and really liked it so decided to make another visit. Another delicious meal in a lovely setting.

It was another successful trip to the North Shore this summer. Now, where shall we stay next year? This might become an annual trip! It is so beautiful and there are so many great hiking options. I definitely recommend a visit to Minnesota’s North Shore!

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The North Shore day 3

Remember the smoke I mentioned in my previous two posts about our trip to the North Shore? Before I get to that, if you missed either of my first two posts, I’m doing a day by day synopsis of our trip. You can check out the first one here and the second one here. Brief recap: the Greenwood fire was started by a lightening strike a few days before we headed to the North Shore. Since it was about 40-50 miles from where we were staying, we almost cancelled and I’m so glad we didn’t! The smoke from this fire would come and go with the wind and we awoke to a smoky sunrise on day 3. I love the colors in this photo (taken by hubby) but it smelled really smoky.

We kept checking the air quality since our plan was to visit two state parks today. According to the weather app on our phones, air quality was moderate. After breakfast at Lockport Marketplace and Deli we headed out on the highway to Tettegouche State Park about 30 minutes south of our hotel.

Such an interesting start to the hike as the trail goes under the highway at the beginning. It was a long hike to a waterfall that is more voluminous when we’re not in drought. But at least there was water. And it was pretty. There were paths to other waterfalls and there was one sign that said 200 steps to the bottom of the waterfall which meant we had to climb back up these steps, so we passed on that one. It was a 1.5 mile hike to the High Falls of the Baptism River and it took roughly two hours to go and come back. We passed other hikers on our way back that kept asking if there were waterfalls. We wondered the same thing and we felt rewarded when we saw the waterfalls.

We stopped at Schroeder Baking Company and got some sandwiches to eat at our hotel while we rested and regrouped for our afternoon hike. We got to Temperance River State Park about 2:00 and of course we checked out the map! This hike was a bit more rewarding in that there were several waterfalls that we found. It took most of the afternoon for this hike. We got there about 2:00 and then back to our hotel just after 4:00. Lots of up and down and lots of treacherous spots. We couldn’t take our eyes off our feet too much to enjoy the views because we had to watch where we put our feet so as not to fall down and crack our heads open. Luckily that didn’t happen! And I did manage to get some good photos.

We had another picnic of smoked fish, crackers, cheese and salads in our room for supper. After all that hiking we didn’t feel like eating out. We had talked about taking the gondola ride on Lutsen Mountain for more great views, but there was no time today. The next day we had more time but it was not to be because day 4 was full of smoke which made for some one-of-a-kind photos! Not a great day to see the views of the lake from the mountain as you will see in the photos for that post that is coming soon.

We had an eagle flying by our balcony the entire time we were there. It was so cool!! And it was this evening on day 3 that I managed to capture him in flight, also very cool!! And so my featured photo is of our eagle buddy and I’ll close with the video that I hope you will enjoy. I’d advise to turn the volume down unless you want to hear my commentary. My next post will be about Grand Portage National Monument so do come back for that. Such an interesting place! We really enjoyed it.

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The North Shore of Lake Superior

I’m finally getting back to posting about our trip to the North Shore. I had started this post a month after our trip but it’s been sitting in drafts all this time.

I’ve lived in Minnesota nearly 30 years but until last summer, I had never visited the North Shore. “North Shore” is a bit of a misnomer in that it’s not the north shore of Lake Superior, rather it’s north of Duluth and forms the northeast side of Minnesota. But technically this section of Lake Superior is really the western shore.

When it looked like the pandemic might have been on its way out of our lives last May, we decided to travel within Minnesota because neither of us wanted to travel by air just yet. I began looking for places to stay and already places were booked up! But I did find a place right on the Lake where every room has a balcony and a view of the lake. Cliff Dweller was perfect! It was so nice to listen to the lake lap against the shore as we fell asleep. And the location was great for exploring the area.

We nearly cancelled because of a fire that started from a lightening strike the Sunday of the week we were traveling there, the Greenwood fire in the Superior National Forest. But we decided to go and take our chances. The fire itself was about 40 miles from where we were staying so we felt we were fairly safe from the fire. But it did become the focal point of our time on the north shore as the winds would change and bring smoke to the shore at times. It made for some eerie-looking photos!

I attempted to see if the fire ever went out but I didn’t search too long. I did find this post with an interesting video about the fire so if you’re inclined, do take a look. While it shows the damage done, it also reveals the beauty of the area. I would imagine that the snowfall this winter did put out the fire.

We went on several hikes in search of waterfalls. I had seen something on Facebook from the Department of Natural Resources that there were indeed waterfalls, that reports of no waterfalls were not true. Minnesota has been in drought all summer which I guess prompted conspiracy theorists to create nonsense. Typically the best views of the waterfalls are in spring after the snow melts, but there were still lovely views to be had, even at the end of summer and during a drought.

Mostly we went on hikes in state parks. The first one we visited was en route to our hotel the first day. Check-in wasn’t until 4:00 so we set out about 10:00 with a few stops on the way. First stop was lunch in Duluth at the Blackwoods Grill. We had been there years ago so we knew it was a good spot. And its location at the beginning of the scenic portion of highway 61 was perfect! It was a nice break from being in the car.

I had never been north of Duluth so I was pretty excited to finally see the North Shore! I read about Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse which was right along the way on our drive to the hotel. We decided to get some smoked fish and brought some salads and cheese and crackers to have a picnic in our room. We thought this would be a great way to unwind from a long day of driving. We were right! It was perfect. Oh except I forgot to grab some paper plates. I remembered forks and spoons and napkins but not plates. But we made do and the fish was great!!

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park was next on my list of places to see on the way to our hotel. And it didn’t disappoint. Here’s something from their website explaining why the lighthouse was built:

A November gale that wrecked nearly 30 ships in 1905 prompted this rugged landmark’s construction. When the U.S. Lighthouse Service completed Split Rock Light Station in 1910, it soon became one of Minnesota’s best known destinations.

Nestled in a Minnesota State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse is one of the most photographed and visited spots in the state, with a drama-filled history and breathtaking Lake Superior views. If you haven’t visited lately, now is the time to pay homage to a true North Shore icon.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 but the lantern is still operational. Every November 10th there is a lighting ceremony to commemorate the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. Music lover readers will remember that Gordon Lightfoot wrote a song about this disaster.

I decided to do a chronological posting of our trip so this is the first one. I’ll close with a gallery of photos that I hope you will enjoy. Please come back for more posts about the North Shore coming soon! Click on any photo to see the gallery with larger images.

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