With no main water source, Lester River [and all the other Spring Beauties] flows fast and hard during snow melt and spring rains. Visit late-April through late-May.
Take 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 creek side trail. Looking over the south side of the bridge you are able to see where the Amity Creek [on the west] and the Lester River [on the east] join together.
The Lester River is at Hwy 61 mile marker 5.1 in Duluth. Cross the river on Hwy 61 and drive north on 61st Ave. E. for 1.5 blocks to the parking area.
Three falls are quite close by. Park at the Visitor Center and take the super easy, accessible hike to the most photographed of the falls, the expansive Middle Falls. Head south to view the Lower Falls or take a short accessible hike to the north, under Highway 61 that leads to the Upper Falls.
With a little bit of a hike, you can see the Fifth Falls. Continue .75 miles beyond the Upper Falls. Your reward – another glorious waterfall and far fewer folks.
Gooseberry Falls State Park is at Hwy 61 mile marker 39.5, northeast of Two Harbors.
Split Rock rolls and tumbles, cascading and tumbling to its mouth on Lake Superior. This hike, part of the Superior Hiking Trail, can be moderate to difficult due to elevation and length, 5 mile round trip, and trail quality. While a lovely hike all summer long, a spring hike affords falls views that are obscured once trees have leafed out. Bonus – this trail is a loop, heading up the west side of the river, crossing a bridge, and returning on the east side, with access to the sandy river mouth.
Split Rock River Bridge is CLOSED as of October 18, 2016; the Superior Hiking Trail Association hopes to replace the bridge by late 2019.
If you are going to hike this 5-mile loop, which offers cliff-side views of the river’s cascades, you will need to ford the river; this can be dangerous due to depth and current.
At Hwy 61 mile marker 43.8, part of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
Cumulatively the falls on the Beaver River drop 300 feet, and it’s all spread out in front of you. You can even see it as you drive along Highway 61. Take advantage of the handy parking area on the southwest side of the river, and amble over to “ooh” and “ah” and appreciate this river all four seasons [hint: it is magnificent ice covered!].
The Beaver River is at Hwy 61 mile marker 51.3, in Beaver Bay.
The highest falls entirely within Minnesota can be seen at Tettegouche State Park. This superb trout stream descends over 700 feet including the 70-foot High Falls and the 40-foot Illgen Falls further upstream.
You can access the High Falls via a 3-mile hiking trail departing from the Visitor Center along the east side of the trail [lots of steps and elevation, not knee-friendly] OR via short spur trail accessed at the Superior Hiking Trail parking area located one mile north of Hwy 61 on MN Hwy 1. Parking is on left, easy to miss, so watch out for Superior Hiking Trail sign.
Tettegouche State Park is at Hwy 61 mile marker 58.5 northeast of Silver Bay.
The quintessential drive-by waterfall!
Highway 61 transverses the Cross River mid-falls, making for a full falls view as you motor along. But by all means, get out and walk across the bridge for the full on, in your face perspective. For another vantage point of the river and its canyon, head to the south side of the highway, and look downstream. With headwaters at Cross Lake, these falls flow throughout the year, and ice up beautifully in the winter.
Photo tip: hold your camera lens in front of a round wrought iron hole in the fence.
Cross River is at Hwy 61 mile marker 78.9 in Schroeder.
Temperance River sports an upper falls, hidden falls and middle falls [large photo at top of page], all located north of Highway 61 within 3/4-mile of the trailhead. And heading south [towards Lake Superior] of the highway is a quick 1/8-mile trail to a footbridge with views of the falls under the highway bridge [photo at right], the mouth of the river and the lake. I’d say this is biggest reward for shortest hike.
But go ahead and plan some time to hike up the east side of the river to see all the falls, then cross over and return south, or make it a big hike by venturing east to a loop that ends up back at Hwy 61. OR take the Superior Hiking Trail east to Carlton Peak for big open views of the lake, then descend to the Sawbill Trail [you’ll need to leave a car at the Britton Peak parking area]. You’ll find a link to maps below.
Temperance River State Park is at Hwy 61 mile marker 80.4 in Schroeder.
Climb the wooden steps and hike above the river to view the cascades near the river mouth and the falls just upstream. The best falls view is before trees have leafed out when the river is gorged with snowmelt and rain. The hike includes the set of stairs from the parking area, and then is relatively easy, about a mile round trip.
Why the ‘Onion River?” Because of the wild onions, or ramps, that grow in the vicinity.
Access from the Ray Berglund State wayside at Hwy 61 mile marker 86.5, northeast of Tofte.
Enjoy the spanky outhouses!
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. Which means you can hike about .75 miles, see multiple falls and cascade, cross the river on a foot bridge and return on the other side of the river, making this one of my all-time favorite short hikes. The river has headwaters in Cascade Lake making for a river that runs throughout the year.
Parking is off Hwy 61 at the river mouth; follow trail signs on either side of the river.
Cascade River State Park is at Hwy 61 mile marker 99.8, northeast of Lutsen.
With a Lower and Upper Falls, the Brule’s most famous feature is the Devil’s Kettle. A mile and a half inland are the Lower Falls, and you can hike right to the water and feel the spray. Continue on a third of a mile to where the river splits, creating the Devil’s Kettle and Upper Falls [pictured at right, Devil’s Kettle is on left, Upper Falls on right]. 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.
A spring hike treats you to pounding thunderous falls, but it is hard to discern the Devil’s Kettle under all the water. A summer hike makes that easier. This round trip hike is 2-2.25 miles with spurs, the difficulty lies in the 200 stairs that you need to descend and then climb back up. Plan accordingly.
Devil’s Kettle is located within the Judge C.R. Magney State Park at Hwy 61 mile marker 123.8
The Pigeon River drops 950 feet ending with the 120-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 hiking 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 and take photos!
Leave time for a visit to the center and store within this state park, too.
Grand Portage State Park is at Hwy 61 mile marker 144.0 near the boundary between the United States and Canada.
So, this is the king daddy of all the waterfalls, height-wise, and it requires a passport. The spectacular 40-meter/131-foot “Niagra of the North,’ Kakabeka Falls drops precipitously into a rock-walled canyon.
The fall is within a provincial state park and includes a visitor center, camping, park store and trails. Note – you will going to another country, Canada, and returning to the USA, which requires a passport.
Kakabeka Falls is located in Ontario, Canada (Hwy 61 mile marker 151.0 +)
Option 1 Drive 38 miles north of the border, turn left on ON 11/17 for 16.5 miles.
Option 2 [backroads] Drive 24 miles north of the border, turn left on ON 130 for 3.1 miles, at the T, turn left on Barrie Drive for 1.8 miles, then right on River Road for 3.4 miles and right on for 1.1 miles, then left on ON 11/17 for 3.1 miles.