1. Explore the Lower, Middle & Upper Falls
No trip to Gooseberry Falls State Park would be complete without visiting the lower, middle and upper falls along the Gooseberry River. All of the falls are just a short hike from the visitor’s center and are definitely a must see. You can walk out on the rocks near the middle and lower falls to get a classic Minnesota selfie and you can get a great shot of the upper falls from almost any point along the trail. Because Gooseberry Falls is such an iconic North Shore destination, expect to find a lot of tourists around the falls and the nearby trails, especially during the summer. Tip: Hike up past the upper falls and you’ll find that the crowds drop off considerably.
2. Hike up to the Fifth Falls
If crowds aren’t your thing, consider hiking up to the Fifth Falls, which has equally impressive views and fewer people. Take the Fifth Falls Trail up to the bridge overlooking the roaring falls and then hike back down the other side of the river via the Superior Hiking Trail. Along the way, be sure to enjoy the beautiful wildflowers in the summer and the changing colors of the aspen and birch forests during the fall. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye out for gooseberries.
3. Take a Ride on the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail
Take the bikes out and enjoy a scenic ride along the Lake Superior shoreline. Start at Gooseberry Falls State Park and ride to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, or if you’re feeling ambitious, continue on to Beaver Bay (approx. 14.6 miles). While this is currently the longest segment of the Gitchi-Gami trail, once it’s complete, the 86-mile paved trail will stretch uninterrupted from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Note: The Gitchi-Gami trail is also open to hikers.
4. Picnic on the Lake Superior Shoreline
While everyone is busy looking at the falls, sneak away to the rocky shoreline for lunch or dinner. There are various picnic tables and grills located along the rocks and the view will not disappoint. It’s also a great place to catch the sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early riser). Tip: If you’re visiting the park around the 4th of July, you might be able to catch a few fireworks off in the distance from Silver Bay or Two Harbors.
5. Check out the Historic CCC Stone Structures
The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps.) was established by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 to preserve areas of land around the U.S. From 1933 to 1942, the CCC constructed trails, campgrounds and shelters that are still in place in many state and national parks today, including Gooseberry Falls State Park. Key sites to check out around Gooseberry include, the Falls View Shelter (pictured), Lady Slipper Lodge, Water Tower and the impressive “Castle in the Park” 300-foot long stone retaining wall.
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