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Category Archives: Minnesota State Parks

As we finished hiking the Split Rock River Loop Trail we could see some big waves down by the lake. We drove down for a closer look and did find some big waves crashing into the shore.

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The last time we drove to Duluth, Minnesota there were 40-50 mph winds blowing so we decided to continue on up the North Shore and see if we could catch some big waves. The winds were blowing from the South East and  there were no big waves. We stopped at Gooseberry Falls to check out the conditions.

Upper Falls

Upper Falls

Middle Falls

At the time I thought we should have driven to Grand Marais, Minnesota but we didn’t have time. Paul Sundberg was able to capture the furry of the storm in the harbor.

We met up with a friend in Duluth before heading up the North Shore to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. Our goal was to hike the five mile Split Rock River Loop Trail. When we arrived at the trailhead the trail looked to be in good shape. We debated taking our ice grippers and finally decided to take them along. Good thing we did because we we encountered ice on the trail at we crested the first hill. If we didn’t have the ice grippers we would not have been able to make the hike because the trail was very icy and steep. In some places a slip would have meant a long slide down the gorge into the River.

Split Rock falls was still iced up with just a little water flowing at the bottom of the falls.

We crossed over a small stream and made our way over the the main section of the Split Rock River. The River was still mainly ice but water was flowing in some places.

In a few places the rushing water was producing foam formations one of which looked like a volcano.

As we started the hike we noticed a sign indicating that the foot bridge over the Split Rock River was closed. Last spring when we hiked this trail the bridge looked like it wasn’t safe but we still used it. It looked like the park service had cut the bridge down because only the footings on either side of the river were still standing. We walked down the river a short distance before finding a snow bridge over the river. You can see a portion of the bridge in the background.

We were happy to make it over the river because returning on the same trail would have been difficult because of the ice conditions. There were still some icy conditions on the trail but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the hike up.

As we emerged from the forest we had a great view of Lake Superior. The wind was blowing at about 25 miles an hour out of the East and there were some nice waves hitting the shore. We decided to drive over to the Split Rock Lighthouse and check out the waves.

It was such a beautiful day we decided to continue on to Tettegouche State Park where we hiked out to Shovel Point. There was still enough ice on the trail that it made for some tricky going particularly when walking down the steps. As I mentioned in an earlier post there had been an ice storm but most of the ice was already gone. We had been at Tettegouche in 2011 after a fierce March storm deposited large amounts of ice along Shovel Point. I’ve included a few photos below for comparison.

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Shovel Point

Shovel Point 2011

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Schovel Point Steps

Shovel Point Steps 2011

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Gooseberry Falls State Park is a popular place for ice climbing but this is the first time I had seen any climbers. It looked to be an instructional session. This was taking place at the lower falls. The lower falls splits and this section was an ice wall and the other section was a waterfalls. More photos from Gooseberry Falls can be found on my website.

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We were wandering along the beach at Split Rock State Park when I noticed some nice ripples in the water. More Photos from Split Rock can be found on my website.

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While I was photographing the ripples over the rocks I notice the waves were backlit and had some nice color to them.

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Our goal for the day was Gooseberry Falls State Park but it was such a beautiful day we decided to continue on to Split Rock. I hopped to get some shots of the Lighthouse with lots of ice in the foreground but it looked like a beautiful summer day. More Photos from Split Rock can be found on my website.

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split-rock-lighthouse-state-park-17-2-2014There were just a few pockets of ice on the shore. This is how desperate I was to get some ice shots.

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After a brief stop in Two Harbors we headed up to Gooseberry Falls State Park. It was going to be a warm day and we hopped there would be some water running. There was a bit of water flowing but the river was mostly ice. More photos from Gooseberry Falls can be found on my website.upper-falls-gooseberry-falls-state-park-17-2-1894

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There was some nice ice out at the mouth of the river. There had been an ice storm earlier in the week but much of the ice was already melted.

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From Two Harbors we drove up to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. I had expected to see more ice because there were some nice ice storms in November but the ice was mostly gone.

More photos of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park can be found on my website.

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It was a beautiful day so we decided to drive up to Split Rock Lighthouse State park and hike the Split Rock River Loop Trail. We had hiked up to West Split Rock River Falls a number of times but had never hiked the entire look.

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The guide book indicated that spring was the best time to make the hike because many of the waterfalls were obscured when the leaves were out.

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What a beautiful hike. This has to be one of the best hikes on the North Shore. There was one waterfall after another. It was a bright day and I didn’t know what to expect so I didn’t take my normal waterfall photography gear. Now that I know what to expect the next visit will be with all of my gear.

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The west side of the trail offers the best views of the various waterfalls. It is also the side of the trail that allows you to get close to some of the falls.

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The one downside of the hike was the warm weather. We knew it was going to be warmer than normal but when we met some other hikers on the trail and they pulled out a thermometer and showed us that it was 93 degrees we knew why we felt so hot. We later found out that Two Harbors, Minnesota was the warmest place in the U.S. that day.

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As we neared the end of the hike we hear thunder inland and could see a storm coming. For the second hike in a row we just made it back to the car before the skies opened up.