Cascade River State Park, MN: The Cascades, Lookout Mountain, and Superior Shores

Catch a glimpse of beauty at one of the North Shores best state parks. Waterfalls, overlooks, and gorgeous Lake Superior shoreline.

The North Shore of Minnesota is a frequent haven for our family. Cascade River has been passed so many times on our way to somewhere else. We finally made a point to stop and actually camp at this park before our entry into the BWCA for an Eagle Mountain hike. This way, we could not pass it up any longer. What an amazing park it is, with so much to see!

Quick Review: 9/10 Cascade River gets a pretty high rating from our crew. While our trip was a comical calamity, the park itself still delivered on the beauty. This is a park we will visit again on future trip to the far north.


The name ‘Cascade River’ is spot on with this park. The falls are something out of a fairy tale and accented well with the built in log bridge and overlook. There are multiple falls at this park, all of which have easy hikes to access them.

Cascade Falls: The Cascade River roars down the falls at Cascade Falls making it’s way down to the shores of Lake Superior. This hike is a half mile long from the trail center. These falls drop 25 feet rushing toward Lake Superior through dramatic gorges and rapids. This is a phenomenal location for nature photographers.

The Cascades: Travel a short distance up river for a second falls experience. The log bridge crossing the river reveals spectacular angles for head-on views of the swift waters. We spent quite a bit of time admiring the chaotic, yet hypnotic flow of the river.

Hidden Falls: If you have time to spare, there is a bonus falls just outside of the park, upstream on Cascade River. It’s a small falls that can be accessed by a simple hike from a parking area near a bridge over Cascade River. It’s easier than it sounds. To get to this parking area head north on Hwy 61 leaving the state park, turn left at onto CR 7, and another left onto CR 44 after 2 miles. The parking area will be about 2.5 miles down the road. On foot, head south on the Superior Hiking Trail to the falls, the hike distance is just under a mile.


Cascade River has the options of camping with an RV, in a tent at the campground, or backpacking to designated campsites. We had an interesting experience while camping at Cascade River. For the full disaster check out Mistakes & Lessons at Cascade River.

Backpack Sites: We chose to hike in to a campsite. Our hike was about 1.5 miles long to the Lookout Mountain campsite (BP5) and included a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail. With ample parking provided by this park, it was quick to secure a spot for the Pathfinder. Then we hiked in the dark… yeah, it was a mess.

Bear Box: The backpack campsites do come equipped with a ‘bear box.’ This is a metal lockable box to keep bears from helping themselves to your dinner while you’re are sleeping or away from camp.

Campground: If hiking to a campsite is not in the cards or not your style, the park also is equipped with a campground containing 40 sites available for RV’s and tents alike. Showers and toilets are available in the campground, seasonally of course.

State Park Hiking Trails

Cascade River State Park boasts 18 miles of hiking trails. Many of the trails are difficult and contain rough terrain or steep inclines. Check the map before hitting the trail and compare the trail with your skill level. Hike smart and know your ability.

The easiest hikes are closer to the shores of Lake Superior. This trail is easily accessed by hiking down from the falls area or at the parking area near the shoreline.

Lookout Mountain: The best overlook in the park, in my opinion, came from the climb to Lookout Mountain, which I continuously called ‘Overlook Mountain’. This hike will take you from the Trail Center, past the Cascades, along a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail, and near a campsite. At the top of this peak you’ll be able gain views all the way to Lake Superior. It’s one of the best vantage points on the Northshore. The distance for this hike, out and back, is about 3 miles.

Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail cuts through the park for a portion of the trails. It leads past Lookout Mountain and The Cascades before exiting the park. The shared sections are clearly marked in the park. There are is something cool about hiking a little sections of the trail on your adventure in Cascade River State Park, especially with the kids along.

Lake Superior

Cascade River State Park contains over a mile of shoreline to explore on the great Lake Superior. To access Lake Superior, use either the parking along Hwy 61 at the Cascade Wayside or the parking area near the trail center inside the park and hike to the shoreline using the hiking trails. Parking at the Trail Center will allow for a great hike by the falls prior to strolling along the shore.

Nearby Restaurants

Cascade Restaurant & Pub: This rustic joint sits immediately south of Cascade River State Park. They have amazing burgers and the crispy chips are fantastic. We stopped here after a trek in the Boundary Waters, Bower Trout to Swan Lake. After a long weekend of camp grub, this really hit the spot.

My Sister’s Place: North of the park in Grand Marais is a great place that has a unique shake on the menu. Blueberry!! What!? It was delicious, a great change from your typical strawberry or chocolate shakes. The burgers were quite tasty as well. The restaurant has a casual feel with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Neighboring State Parks & Hikes

A great perk about the state parks along the North Shore, is that there is no shortage of hiking and sight seeing in the area. The North Shore is home to eight state parks, numerous recreation area and waysides with stunning views. You don’t have to stay on the shores of Lake Superior to satisfy your wanderlust, a great hike just an hour inland is waiting. Check out Eagle Mountain in the Boundary Waters.

6 thoughts on “Cascade River State Park, MN: The Cascades, Lookout Mountain, and Superior Shores”

  1. 1. Cascade River State Park has multiple waterfalls that are easily accessed by hiking trails.

    2. The park has options for different types of camping such as backpacking, RV and tent camping.

    3. There are 18 miles of hiking trails in the park with varying degrees of difficulty.

    4. The nearby Superior Hiking Trail passes through the park.

    5. Cascade River State Park has over a mile of shoreline on Lake Superior to explore.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: