23 July 2009

State Park of the week: Tettegouche

For our second state park, we'll go a bit further afield from the Metro to the North Shore of Lake Superior. While the 66 Minnesota state parks are scattered pretty well throughout the state, the one road with the most parks is highway 61 from Duluth north to the Canadian border, with eight parks (and four smaller waysides) along the big lake.

Not too far up the lake is Tettegouche Park, one of the gems of the system. The park contains miles of ski trails, hiking trails, paddling, and ample opportunities for camping (both drive-in and hike-in). In addition, there are several cabins you can rent by the night set back in the woods for a nice getaway from the city without leaving behind all of the creature comforts of home.

The park also has several beautiful bodies of water, in addition to Lake Superior. One is the Baptism River. Like most of the rivers of the north shore, the Baptism falls down the escarpment near the lake. But instead of a deep canyon or a series of rapids, which are prevalent on many rivers, the Baptism falls over three impressive waterfalls, including High Falls which, at 70 feet, is the highest waterfall entirely within the state.

A bit further inland are several lakes, most of which are only accessible by foot. They are only open to unpowered craft and, despite intensive logging 100 years ago, the lakes are cool, calm and pristine for a paddle or swim. In the southern reaches of the park, Bear Lake sits in a deep gorge with deep, blue, clear and not-that-cold water. Whether you walk to it from the Tettegouche trailhead or from the nearby town of Silver Bay, it is a wonderful destination for a hot summer day (and it has a rope swing, to boot). It's one of my favorite sections of the Superior Hiking Trail, which winds through the park.

Tettegouche isn't much over three hours from the Twin Cities (a day trip is possible, but a lot of driving) and, of course, parking is free in any daily rate HOURCAR!

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