We journeyed to Minnesota's Lake Superior North Shore for the third time this season in hopes of catching the fall colors at their peak. Though spectacular I believe we may have been about 4 or 5 days too early. Our previous trips included the Boundary Waters Canoe Area around Ely, MN and the Gunflint Trail. On this trip we stayed almost exclusively on Highway 61 along Lake Superior.
When you travel Highway 61 you are encountered by many state parks and waysides. So naturally we pulled over on one wayside to capture this photo of the Split Rock Lighthouse.
Then a little farther up we stopped at another wayside that happened to have a coffee shop. On the bridge across the road was this typical cascade toward Lake Superior. This was the Cross River.
The Cross River got its name from Father Baraga's Cross. Father Baraga was a priest from Yugoslavia. He had set sail in a small boat from Wisconsin's Madeline Island intent on heading to Grand Portage but got blown off course and landed safely in the protected waters of the Cross River. A wooden cross was erected on the site and later replaced by this granite cross.
We made it to our first destination, the Grand Marais, MN Municipal Campground around 1 PM and picked this site that looked over the harbor. BTW, there was one other Pleasure-Way Sprinter in the campground. We were camped sandwiched between a C and A motorhome. We looked kind of dinky.
With our afternoon free we headed further up the highway to a park we are familiar with, Judge C R Magney State Park across the road from the Naniboujou Lodge, a place we had stayed numerous times over all four seasons. Our destination was a hike up the Brule River to the Devil's Falls and Kettle. On the way we encountered this.
The falls were overwhelmed with flow. Normally you can see half the falls go into the Devil's Kettle (a hole) to come out further downstream. There was so much flow you could not discern the kettle unless you had been there before. It is on the left at the top.
Getting up close was spectacular.
This fellow was poised to go into this cauldron. We watched him as he charged the falls and did a few rolls and then finally headed down stream.
After hiking all afternoon in the woods we were naturally hungry. We went back to one of our favorite places, the Wild Onion Cafe
in Grand Marais. I had the B2LT consisting of the usual BLT suspects plus strips of Kobe beef. Nancy had the Rueben. Both came with homemade chips.
The next morning we got up early and walked into Grand Marais at sun up. Our first destination was the World's Best Donut
where we got ourselves some treats and much needed coffee and walked over to the beach.
A donut was not going to sustain us for another full day of hiking so we walked back to the Blue Water Cafe
for a real breakfast.
Nancy ate ala carte with hash and eggs. I opted for the full bore Angler's Breakfast consisting of two eggs over easy, hash browns, sour dough toast and a whopping breaded Walleye.
Now we were ready for hiking. Our first stop was the Cascade River State Park where we first hiked up the Cascade River to the obligatory falls that tumble out of the mountains down to Lake Superior all up and down the North Shore.
But we also wanted to see fall color. As I mentioned on the North Shore we were perhaps early but over the mountains colors were in peak. So we hiked up to Lookout Mountain in Cascade River State Park on part of the Lake Superior Hiking Trail. 1,600 feet up we got what we came for.
After Cascade River we had a whole afternoon ahead of us so we drove to the Canadian border 50 miles further up the highway to Grand Portage State Park. Beyond the sign you can see the border crossing.
This is what we came for. The Pigeon River is the boundary between the United States and Canada. Just a short half mile hike in you come upon this tallest waterfall in Minnesota with a 120 foot drop. The US is on the left and Canada on the right.
That evening we took in another favorite place, the Angry Trout Restaurant
adjacent to our campground. I had the pork tenderloin medallions and Nancy had the breaded herring. They were served with salad and wild rice.
We got up early the next morning and thought we would take a small hike at the Municipal Campground. It turned out to be a very rigorous hike up deep woods rocky hill. The reward was this overlook of Grand Marais harbor.
With that behind us we still had a 1-1/2 mile hike up and back to The Pie Place
on Highway 61. Believe me it was well worth it. My breakfast was the Caribou Eyes
, the classic egg in the hole fried eggs in the center of two pieces of homemade bread topped with cheese, sour cream, and salsa served with a wedge of hash brown pie. Nancy had the Northern Sausage Benedict
consisting of English Muffin halves topped with maple sausage patties, poached eggs, and cheese sauce along with the hash. This breakfast was clearly the winner.
But wait! This is the pie place so we had to imbibe. We split a Maple Apple Cream pie. Now that we have had pie at Betty's Pies, the Rustic Inn and The Pie Place, I can say without a doubt The Pie Place in Grand Marais is the winner.
It was time to head back to the Twin Cities after two nights on the North Shore. On our way back we stopped at Gooseberry Falls State Park for one more hike. Right on the highway is the ever popular main falls.
We decided to hike up to the 5th Falls back in the mountain. On our way we encountered this interesting mushroom.
We made it to the 5th Falls about a mile into the forest walking along the Gooseberry River.
We had one last stop at Russ Kendall's Smoked Fish in Knife River between Duluth and Two Harbors. We bought some smoked trout and salmon spread and then headed for home.
We may have one or two more trips north yet this year. One again in October at the end of the season and then one again when winter closes in for some snowshoeing.