Recommended Waterfall Tours Along the North Shore

Along the southwest half of the North Shore streams tend to be showy. With no headwaters, the rivers swell and pound during spring run-off and heavy rains and run low during dry times. Rivers without headwaters can discharge up to four times as much water as those with headwaters. From the Manitou River northeast, the rivers have headwaters and thus, a more stable flow. But it’s a close call to the best performance during run-off.

Lester River
Lester River Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 5.2

Start your water fall tour with a look-see over the Superior Street bridge at the Lester River Falls or park in the lot on the east side of the river, half a block north, and walk the creekside trail.

Crow Creek Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 34.6

Not a waterfalls, but a fun fact.

On the northeast side of the Lafayette Bluff Tunnel, Highway 61 crosses Crow Creek. See if it is running. It was originally named the Prohibition Creek, since it usually ran dry.

 

Upper, Lower, Middle & Fifth Falls of the Gooseberry River
Upper, Lower, Middle & Fifth Falls of the Gooseberry River Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 39.5

It’s a 5-for-1 stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park!

  • Park at the Visitor Center and take the easy accessible hike to the most photographed of the falls, the expansive Middle Falls.
  • A short accessible hike to the north, under Hwy 61 leads to the Upper Falls.
  • A southern trail leads past the western Lower Falls. The eastern Lower Falls are on the other side of the island.
  • To reach the Fifth Falls, continue past the Upper Falls, stop at the overlook and return on the east side of the river; about 2 miles.
Cascades at Split Rock River Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 43.8

Hike the 5-mile loop for cliffside views of the river’s cascades!

Beaver Falls
Beaver Falls Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 51.3

The river drops 300 feet in a series of cascades and falls above the bridge and enters the sedate bay. Highway 61 follows the curve of the bay to East Beaver Bay, providing additional panoramas.

High Falls Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 58.5

The highest falls entirely within Minnesota and can be seen at Tettegouche State Park. This superb trout stream descends over 700 feet including the 70-foot Baptism Falls and the 50-foot Illgen Falls further upstream.

Falls at Cross River
Falls at Cross River Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 78.8

You can’t miss this classic falls, Highway 61 rolls right by! But take advantage of handy pedestrian bridges for excellent vantage points of the 100′ falls as they roll down, under and make their final drop on the south side of the bridge.

Temperance River Falls
Temperance River Falls Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 80.4

The falls and spectacular gorges of the Temperance River are within a quarter-mile walk from highway parking.

Stair Step Falls Onion River
Stair Step Falls Onion River Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 86.5

At the Ray Berglund State Wayside; climb the wooden steps and hike above the river to view the cascades near the rivermouth and the falls just upstream.

Cascades & Falls of the Cascade River
Cascades & Falls of the Cascade River Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 99.8

Ten miles above Hwy 61 the river abruptly begins its descent to Lake Superior. Dropping 900 feet in the lower three miles, the river takes a steep final run in the last quarter mile as it drops 120 feet through a deep, churning gorge. Hike both sides of the Cascade River by parking at the river mouth and following the trails signs.

Upper Falls, Devil's Kettle & Lower Falls of the Brule River
Upper Falls, Devil's Kettle & Lower Falls of the Brule River Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 123.8

At Judge Magney State Park; the Brule’s most famous feature is the Devil’s Kettle. A mile and a half inland are the Lower Falls, then the Upper Falls and the Devil’s Kettle, where the river course splits. About half of the river’s water flow runs over the Upper Falls while the other half enters a cauldron, the Devil’s Kettle, and disappears. It is presumed that some of the water goes into an underground waterway and some reappears in a pool in the lower river reaches, but the point of re-entry remains unknown.

High Falls of the PIgeon Rover
High Falls of the PIgeon Rover Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 150.8

The Pigeon drops 950 feet ending with the 100-foot drop High Falls. This lower reach is particularly rugged until a short distance after the falls, where the river widens. An easy half-mile trail in Grand Portage State Park leads to the High Falls. The trail end has two great viewing decks where you can feel the spray of the falls!

Kakabeka Falls Miles from Duluth: at mile marker 190.0

wrap up your waterfall tour in Canada at the spectacular 131-foot “Niagra of the North’ which drops precipitously into a rock-walled canyon.

Drive 34 miles north of the border, take ON 130 for 13 miles, following the signs.