After an eight-hour drive through Wisconsin and Illinois, Highway 61 is picked up at Duluth and hugs the north shore of Lake Superior to the Canadian border and is an incredible scenic drive. One could find many days’ worth of adventure along the lake, but our destination is Quetico Provincial Park in Canada, so no time for elongated stops, but there is always time to get out of the car and check out some beautiful sights.
There are numerous places to get out and explore along the north shore. There are many state parks, bike trails, and waysides that provide access to the lake for the road-weary motorist. Here are a few that are perfect for a quick stopover.
Gooseberry State Park and Falls —
Gooseberry Falls is a three-tiered waterfall inside a state park with camping and many hiking trails. The hiking trails around the falls area allow the hiker a close-range view of the falls. There are also pools below the falls for swimming. Just make sure not to get swept into the next set of fast water.
Palisade Head State Park —
In between the 57 and 58 mile marker along Highway 61 lays this giant piece of rock that descends straight down into Lake Superior with great views in all directions. The cliffs are reminiscent of the White Cliffs of Dover as they are quite remarkable.
It is easy to miss, as there is just a small green sign and a parking lot below the rock. There is a one-lane road that twists and turns its way steeply up the rock. Make way for cars coming down as the road is narrow, and keep the speed down as the turns are sharp.
Cross River Falls —
The Cross River crosses Highway 61 right in the middle of the small town of Schroeder. It crosses in style with a picturesque waterfall that can be seen right from the road. On the south side of the river there is a wayside where it is possible to check out the falls a little closer and take pictures from the bridge.
Cascade River State Park and Falls —
Just a couple miles south of Grand Marais is the Cascade River State Park. The river is the most aptly named geographic feature around as the river crashes down to its confluence with Lake Superior in a series of waterfalls through narrow canyons. A trail system with stairs, lookouts, and bridges lines both sides of the river and allows great angles for photos.
After the waterfalls are taken in, then venture deeper into the forest on one of the trails or hike down and see the river stop its cascade when it meets Lake Superior. Take a stroll down the most beautiful lake in the world.
After one or all of these stops, get back in the car and head up to the beautiful town of Grand Marais. It is the last town, as to enter the Boundary Waters and Quetico it is necessary to pass the town and take a left on the Gunflint Trail. It is 63 miles to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters without a town in between, and the road ends there. The Gunflint Trail has already been written about here. Make sure that all provisions like gas, food, film, clothing, batteries have been taken care of, as civilization will be left behind when turning left on the Gunflint Trail.
Traveling Ted will take the reader on a wilderness journey through Quetico Provincial Park. Sign up and subscribe for the rest of this series and beyond. dampfang.com will not sell your email and you will not get spam in your email box. Only one email will generate with a link for every article I write. I can also be followed on Twitter, Facebook, and if you are Twitter savy then follow me with the hashtag of #ttinquetico.
For directions from Chicago check out the Google map at the bottom of this article.